Shas ‘in panic’ over candidacy of Rabbi Boaron for Sephardi chief rabbi

Boaran says he will not bow to pressure from any sides, will continue to push his candidacy forward.

July 9, 2013 22:19
3 minute read.
Arye Deri at the President's residence, January 31, 2013.

Arye Deri at the President's residence 370. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)

The Shas party and its chairman Arye Deri appear to be increasingly concerned with the candidacy for Sephardi chief rabbi of Rabbi Tzion Boaron, a rabbinical judge on the Supreme Rabbinical Court for over 30 years.

Several rumors have been circulated directly to reporters in the past few days about Boaron, seemingly disseminated by sources close to the Shas leadership, suggesting that the rabbi intends to quit the race for various reasons.

But on Tuesday, Boaron released an audio recording in which he declares directly that he will be not be withdrawing his candidacy under any circumstances.

Boaron is highly respected as an authority in Jewish law and commands substantial support within the 150-member electoral committee that selects the chief rabbis.

It appears that the extent of Boaron’s support is deeply worrying Deri and the Shas leadership, which is now doing its utmost to get Boaron to quit.

A source connected with the upcoming elections for the Chief Rabbinate said that the attempts to spread rumors about Boaron indicated that Shas chairman Deri and the party leadership were beginning to panic over the chances of a candidate endorsed by Shas to be elected to the position of Sephardi chief rabbi, in the face of Boaron’s candidacy.

It is believed that Deri is backing either Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef, son of Shas spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, or his own brother – Rabbi Yehuda Deri, who is chief rabbi of Beersheba.

Boaron is backed by current Sephardi Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar, who was prevented from running for reelection when Shas withdrew its support for legislation allowing a serving chief rabbi to stand for a second term.

Accusations have been made by numerous sources blaming Deri for pulling Shas’s support for the bill.

On Tuesday, haredi journalist Moshe Glasner claimed during an interview on ultra-Orthodox radio station Radio Kol Hai that Rabbi Ovadia Yosef had asked Amar to instruct Boaron to withdraw his candidacy, and that Amar had said he would “use his influence” only if Yehuda Deri withdraws his candidacy.

Although not responding directly to the report, Boaron said – in a recording of a statement made on Tuesday and released by his office – that he would be standing for Sephardi chief rabbi no matter what.

“If anyone hears anything else, like that I have any intention of standing down, or my candidacy is a form of protest, such claims have no foundation,” said Boaron.

“I am giving my clear opinion, and no one else can speak in my name on such matters,” he added.

Last week, reporters were provided with a separate rumor, again seemingly originating from sources close to the Shas leadership, that Boaron would quit in return for being appointed to a government office of one kind or another, while on Monday reporters also were provided with another rumor claiming that Boaron had agreed to some kind of deal for mutual support with Rabbi David Stav, a candidate for Ashkenazi chief rabbi.

Stav is widely loathed by the haredi rabbinical and political leadership, so associating Boaron with the Ashkenazi chief rabbi candidate could potentially damage Boaron’s support among haredi members of the electoral body.

In response to the rumors provided to religious affairs reporters, Boaron’s office issued a statement to the press saying, “This evening, interested parties began to brief media outlets about a supposed deal between the staff of Rabbi Boaron and the staff of Rabbi Stav.

“This report is as reliable as the attempt to sell you the spin last week on [Rabbi Boaron’s] possible withdrawal from the race in order to receive some job. We are saying in the clearest manner that there is no deal and that the staff is focused on working with the members of the electoral committee.”

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