El Al lays off its chief rabbi

Shas spiritual leader's son working to get Katzir, former IAF rabbi, reinstated.

el al plane 298.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
el al plane 298.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
Just two weeks after El Al placated haredi rancor over Shabbat desecration, the nation's airline fired its veteran chief rabbi, Avshalom Katzir, over the weekend. El Al said the layoff of Lt.-Col. (res) Katzir, former deputy chief rabbi of the IDF, was part of streamlining measures. However, haredi sources in El Al said that Katzir was superfluous. "He did not help El Al in the recent negotiations with the haredim because he is a religious Zionist," said the source. "And kosher supervision of food is already taken care of by the caterers." El Al's most important point man vis-a-vis the haredim is Rabbi Yochanan Chayut, a representative of the Council for the Purity of the Camp. Chayut meets haredi customers at check-in and is responsible for seating arrangements that ensure haredi men do not sit next to women. Chayut also arranges for seating in areas without movies and for kosher food. Chayut is expected to take over for Katzir. Katzir, who held a part time position at El Al, told The Jerusalem Post that he did not know the reason for the layoff. But he verified reports that Rabbi Avraham Yosef, son of Shas's spiritual Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, was working behind the scenes to get Katzir reinstated. Avraham Yosef, now chief rabbi of Holon, was Katzir's deputy when Katzir served as chief rabbi of the IAF. However, sources in El Al said that during a friendly meeting between El Al CEO Haim Romano and Rabbi Ovadia Yosef three days ago, Yosef, who already knew about Katzir's layoff, did not try to convince Romano to backtrack. "All he said was that Katzir should be treated respectfully," said the El Al source.