Religious Services Ministry creates 48 new rabbinical positions for small towns

Rabbis in small towns and moshavs are responsible for local kashrut supervision, marriage registration and burial arrangements, among other pastoral duties.

Rabbis dedicate a new torah scroll (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Rabbis dedicate a new torah scroll
The Religious Services Ministry has announced the creation of 48 new posts for local rabbis in small towns, villages and moshavim around the country.
Rabbis are generally responsible for religious services in such places, including kashrut supervision, marriage registration, helping with burial arrangements and various other pastoral duties.
The job is essentially a life-time position until the age of retirement, and can be extended even longer with the agreement of the relevant parties.
According to the ministry, the last time new positions were created was four years ago.
In October last year, the ministry invited small municipal authorities to apply for such positions; 66 communities located in regional-council administrations requested a local rabbi, 48 of which were approved.
“I am certain that the addition strength of these rabbis will make religious services more accessible and more welcoming in the style of Beit Hillel,” said Religious Services Minister David Azoulay (Shas), adding that he was hopeful that “the best and most fitting rabbis” would be appointed.
A note of caution has been heard, however, regarding the appointment process for such rabbis, with concerns voiced that the ministry and the haredi political parties will have greater influence over such appointments than before.
Until recently, it was the small towns which were in charge of such appointments, but in 2016, Shas chairman and Interior Minister Arye Deri issued an order approved by the Knesset Interior Committee changing the appointments process.
Under the new system, there will be at least three representatives on the selection committee connected to the Religious Services Ministry out of a total of seven committee members.
Tani Frank of the religious-Zionist lobbying group Ne’emanei Torah Va’Avodah said that “the fact that the increase of positions comes after the selection committee has become less reflective of the local community creates a doubt that the town rabbis who will be elected will appropriately represent the residents of the town.”
Frank said that while the creation of rabbinical positions for towns without them was welcome, the unlimited duration of the rabbis’ tenure should be ended by imposing a term of a specific number of years for all such positions, after which the rabbi can apply for reappointment, along with other candidates who may also apply for the position.