Druckman tapped to broker choice for chief rabbi

No agreement made within the Bayit Yehudi party over the party’s choice of candidate for the post of Ashkenazi chief rabbi.

Rabbi Haim Druckman 370 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Rabbi Haim Druckman 370
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Deliberations and discussions are continuing within the Bayit Yehudi party over the party’s choice of candidate for the post of Ashkenazi chief rabbi, but there is still no agreement within the faction.
Bayit Yehudi MKs gathered in the Knesset on Monday for the party’s faction meeting and were joined by leading national religious rabbi Haim Druckman as well as Rabbi Avichai Rontzki, a former IDF chief rabbi.
On behalf of party leader Naftali Bennett and Deputy-Minister for Religious Affairs Eli Ben-Dahan, Druckman has been coordinating the party’s efforts on the issue of the chief rabbinate with the national-religious rabbinic leadership.
The rabbi has been trying to formulate a deal with Shas, which wields significant influence on the chief rabbi election committee, to support Chief Rabbi of Ramat Gan Yaakov Ariel for Ashkenazi chief rabbi, in return for which Bayit Yehudi would enable the passage of legislation allowing current Sephardi Chief Rabbi and Shas affiliate Shlomo Amar to serve a second term.
Ariel would need legislation himself to stand as a candidate, since he is 79, and candidates must be under the age of 70.
Yisrael Beytenu and Yesh Atid would likely oppose such legislation, as both have publicly endorsed Rabbi David Stav, chairman of the Tzohar rabbinical association and a more liberally inclined candidate. Yisrael Beytenu MK David Rotem told The Jerusalem Post on Monday that the party would not backtrack on its support for Stav.
Within Bayit Yehudi, it is understood that Bennett is more inclined to back Stav, but more conservative elements in the party, backed by national-religious rabbis of the same mindset, are not in favor.
Meanwhile, haredi website Kikar Hashabbat reported on Monday that sources close to Shas spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef were of the opinion that Yosef would not endorse any national-religious candidate.
Yosef is still said to be furious over Bayit Yehudi’s alliance with Yesh Atid instead of Shas during the coalition negotiations, and so is refusing to take part in the mooted deal, even if it means forgoing Amar’s continued tenure as chief rabbi.
A source in Bayit Yehudi said on Monday that any deal with Shas would require public backing from the highest echelons of the party for the national-religious candidate, in order to prevent any backsliding in the secret ballot.
He added that Shas was generally amenable to political deals, and that an agreement with the haredi party was still possible.
Another suggestion that has been raised by Bayit Yehudi, and which was discussed in Monday’s faction meeting, is a proposal to enlarge the electoral committee from 150 to 310 members, including all 120 members of Knesset.
This would in theory help dilute the power of Shas on the electoral committee and thereby obviate the necessity for Bayit Yehudi to gain Shas’s backing for the nationalreligious candidate.
On Sunday night, Channel 2 brought to light a previous comment from a past interview with Rabbi Ariel, in which he expressed opposition to women taking senior government positions.
In an interview with Ma’ariv, Ariel said that demanding jobs were not fitting for women of childbearing age, and subsequently explained that intensive jobs would negatively impact a woman’s role as a mother.
Some party sources expressed concern with the timing and provenance of the report.