Inauguration of new chief rabbis 370.
(photo credit: Kobi Gideon/GPO)
Israel will only have one chief rabbi, according to a draft bill Justice
Minister Tzipi Livni, Religious Affairs Minister Naftali Bennett and Deputy
Religious Affairs Minister Eli Ben- Dahan publicized Monday.
the proposal, there will be one chief rabbi who will be elected regardless of
his country of origin. There are currently two chief rabbis, an Ashkenazi and a
“Israel has one prime minister, one president, one Supreme
Court president and one IDF chief of staff; the time has come for us to only
have one rabbi
for one nation,” Livni said. “The State of Israel should have one
chief rabbi to unite all parts of Israeli society and a rabbinate that will give
services to all parts of the Jewish people instead of maintaining a formal,
According to Bennett, this change is an
important step symbolizing national unity.
“The only question is why
didn’t this happen sooner,” Bennett stated. “Today, when Ashkenazi people marry
Sephardi people and Yemenites and any other origin, there is no reason for two
The intended bill would also separate the rabbinate from
the religious courts system, making it independent. The head of the religious
court and his deputy would be chosen by judges in the Great Rabbinical Court,
just as High Court justices choose their president.
The reasoning behind
this change is that Livni, Bennett and Ben-Dahan feel the head of the rabbinical
courts should be able to focus only on that job, as opposed to the current
situation in which the chief rabbis lead religious courts, even if they are not
trained rabbinical judges.
If the bill becomes law, it will only apply
after the next chief rabbi election, in 10 years.
Rabbi Haim Navon, a
popular author who teaches at moderate religious-Zionist institutions, praised
the proposal on Facebook, writing “it’s about time.”
recommendation: The next chief rabbis should be elected for only five years. Ten
years is too long for only one person to be in charge,” Navon
Rabbi Gilad Kariv, speaking for the Reform Movement in Israel,
called for the cancelation of the rabbinate.
“The State of Israel is not
Iran and Judaism in Israel and in the Diaspora don’t need a Vatican,” Kariv
said. “In a reality in which the Orthodox community doesn’t listen to the chief
rabbis’ decisions anyway, the job is just a symbol of the Orthodox monopoly and
the undemocratic and un-Zionist idea that there is only one right way to be