Minister to reconvene meeting over J'lem chief rabbi's post

Religious services minis

Religious Services Minister Ya'acov Margi caved in last week to critics and called to redo a step in the process of choosing the next chief rabbis of Jerusalem. Jerusalem citizens concerned that Margi was attempting to rig the voting process have petitioned the High Court of Justice, demanding more transparency. About two weeks ago Margi convened a committee of five that chose a voting body of 24 representatives of synagogues in Jerusalem that would have the task of choosing the next chief rabbis. However, minutes from the meeting were never released. Dr. Aviad Hacohen, dean of the Sha'arei Mishpat College, petitioned the High Court in the name of Ne'emanei Torah Ve'avoda, a religious Zionist organization, and Jerusalem Municipality Council Member Rachel Azaria to demand the minutes and gain more information on how that vote was conducted. Sources close to Margi were quoted in the haredi press as saying that although he had done nothing wrong, the religious services minister did not want to engage in a long legal battle that would needlessly delay the election of chief rabbis. He therefore agreed to repeat the process by which the voting body is chosen. Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat has declared that he supports the appointment of at least one religious-Zionist chief rabbi. Shas spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef is pushing to get one of his sons, Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef, elected as chief Sephardi rabbi. The expectation is that Shas would be willing to support an Ashkenazi religious-Zionist rabbi on condition its Sephardi candidate is chosen. Shas, however, has never officially agreed to such a deal.