Legislative change to keep rabbi from heading rabbinic courts

Metzger is first chief rabbi chosen who lacks formal training for position; elected without Haredi backing.

metzger 224  (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
metzger 224
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
A legislative amendment expected to be passed at the last minute will keep Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi Yona Metzger from serving as head of the rabbinic courts, a position for which he lacks formal training. The Knesset Interior Affairs and Environment Committee ratified an amendment to the Chief Rabbinate Law Monday that allows the two chief rabbis to refrain from rotating. The law will come up for vote in the Knesset this week before spring break. The two rabbis were to rotate next week. Presently the law obligates the two chief rabbis, who serve for 10 years, to rotate mid-term. Each is expected to serve two five-year terms, one as president of the rabbinic courts, which is responsible for conversions and divorces, and another as chairman of the rabbinate's rabbinic council, which is responsible for kosher supervision and weddings. However, Metzger has no training as a rabbinic judge. Michal Levi, a Justice Ministry legal adviser responsible for drafting the amendment, said that the change would provide more flexibility. "The amendment permits chief rabbis who lack the proper training to serve as a judge to forgo the rotation," Levi said. MK Yossi Beilin (Meretz) said he opposed the amendment because it was being passed specifically for Metzger, who was the first chief rabbi chosen who lacked the necessary credentials to serve all the functions expected of a chief rabbi. MK David Amsalem (Shas), who supported the amendment, said in response that "serious reforms in the fields of kashrut supervision and the courts are in the process of being implemented and it would be a shame to interrupt them." Metzger, who was educated in religious Zionist institutions, was elected to the rabbinate with the backing of haredi rabbis. Sources close to the rabbinate told The Jerusalem Post in the past that Metzger received haredi backing after agreeing to acquiesce to haredi rabbinic authority on various halachic matters.