Six municipal chief rabbis may receive wage hike

Chief Rabbis in Kiryat Ata, Ashdod, Beit Dagan, Or Akiva, Alfei Menashe and Or Yehuda will get salary hikes of 54-143 percent.

January 30, 2012 04:56
2 minute read.
The Jerusalem Post

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Six municipal chief rabbis will receive a sizable wage increase if a ministerial committee approves a proposal on Monday by Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz and Religious Services Minister Ya’acov Margi.

Chief Rabbis in Kiryat Ata, Ashdod, Beit Dagan, Or Akiva, Alfei Menashe and Or Yehuda will get salary hikes of 54-143 percent depending on the size of the cities in which they serve, if the Ministerial Committee for Socioeconomic Affairs passes the proposal.

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The rabbis from these specific municipalities are receiving the increase because they were appointed after the government decided in 2005 to reduce the salaries of municipal chief rabbis due to economic considerations.

The salaries of these six rabbis will now be brought in line with those of the other 114 municipal chief rabbis who were appointed before 2005, and whose salaries were not reduced.

According a report in the Calcalist financial newspaper on Sunday, municipal chief rabbis of cities with 10,000 or fewer residents receive a monthly salary of NIS 17,500; in cities with 10,000-50,000 people, NIS 23,000 a month; in cities of 50,000- 100,000 people, NIS 26,214; cities of 100,000-200,000, NIS 26,671; and of cities with more than 250,000, NIS 29,127.

A spokesman for the Religious Services Ministry confirmed these figures with The Jerusalem Post on Sunday.

The ministry defended the committee’s decision and said that it would provide only a partial fix to the “distortion” created by the 2005 decision, “in which the salaries of new rabbis were cut by 75 percent.”

“The proposal requests to raise salaries in accordance with the scope of the rabbis’ activities,” the ministry said, pointing out that the increase in salaries affects only six rabbis.

Speaking with the Post, Rabbi Shimon Biton, chairman of the Petah Tikva religious council, who recently came out in favor of a bill to dismantle the national network of local religious councils, said that the wage increases were unnecessary and that the timing was wrong.

“There first needs to be fundamental reform of the whole system of city and neighborhood rabbis,” he said. “Once that is done then wages can be discussed.”

Biton also said that state-funded rabbinical positions were a means for secular parties to pay off religious parties for political support.

“We don’t need them at all, rabbis of synagogues and communities do a much better job, it’s just a waste of money,” the rabbi said.

Biton has also submitted a petition to the High Court of Justice to abolish the phenomenon of having both an Ashkenazi chief rabbi and a Sephardi chief rabbi in Petah Tikva, calling the duplication a waste of money.

No one at the Finance Ministry was available for comment.

The Hiddush religious freedom lobbying group lambasted the salary increases, labeling them a “salary festival for haredi party cronies at the expense of the tax paying public.”

The organization also called for the abolishment of city rabbi positions, saying that most city residents do not need their services.

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