Coalition deal could see reelection of Metzger, Amar

Agreement between Bayit Yehudi, Likud may pave way for reelection of chief rabbis as movement attempts to take control of institutions.

CHIEF RABBI Shlomo Amar visits soldiers outside Gaza 370 (photo credit: Courtesy Lerner Com)
CHIEF RABBI Shlomo Amar visits soldiers outside Gaza 370
(photo credit: Courtesy Lerner Com)
In an apparent oversight on behalf of Bayit Yehudi, the coalition agreement between the national-religious party and Likud Beytenu may pave the way for the reelection as chief rabbis of both Rabbi Shlomo Amar and Rabbi Yona Metzger.
The national-religious movement has been chomping at the bit in recent years to retake control of state religious institutions, such as the Chief Rabbinate, which were formerly an exclusive sphere of influence for the community and its leadership.
Rabbi David Stav, chairman of the national-religious rabbinic association, has in particular embarked on a strong campaign to get elected as Ashkenazi chief rabbi in the elections scheduled for June this year.
But the coalition agreement between Bayit Yehudi and Likud Beytenu stipulates that the terms of the current chief rabbis be extended until new rabbis are elected and, additionally, that legislation be completed to allow chief rabbis to serve more than one 10- year term. Currently a chief rabbi may only serve one term.
The seeming mistake was likely made out of a desire in Bayit Yehudi to garner support from Shas and Amar for a national-religious Ashkenazi chief rabbi by allowing Amar himself to continue as Sephardi chief rabbi.
The terms of the coalition deal as it was agreed, however, would not prevent Metzger for standing again for the Ashkenazi post.
It is unclear whether Bayit Yehudi would be able to stymie these two pieces of legislation, and the concern for the party is that Likud, because of its close ties and former political alliance with Shas and United Torah Judaism, will insist that coalition discipline be applied on this matter to pass both bills as a way of placating the haredi parties for their exclusion from the government.
This would represent a major setback for the nationalreligious movement’s attempts at reforming the state religious establishment in its own image.