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Group petitions court to halt vote on Jerusalem chief rabbi
By JONAH MANDEL
03/30/2011
Ne’emanei Torah Ve’avoda file petition asking the court to basically reduce the weight of the religious services minister in the process.
A liberal religious Zionist organization is asking the High Court of Justice to put a freeze on the process of electing a chief rabbi for Jerusalem until the regulations governing the process are altered to better represent the public and prevent political deals.

Ne’emanei Torah Ve’avoda on Monday filed a petition asking the court to basically reduce the weight of the religious services minister in the process.

In a city like Jerusalem, the rabbis are elected by a body composed of 48 people – 24 representatives of synagogues, 18 from the city council, and another six who represent the religious services minister. The petition is asking to change the regulation, set forth in 2007, to the effect that either the number of synagogue representatives, or of city council members, be increased.

A spokesman for the organization explained that, in the current situation, it is much easier for the minister to have a say over which synagogues take part in the election process.

The process to elect city rabbis for Jerusalem was recently relaunched, after a petition by Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat against the Religious Services Ministry put a halt to a previous process. The city has had no chief rabbi since 2002.

“Electing a city rabbi should enable the public to choose a suitable leader in a democratic process, and a fair, open and egalitarian vote without political control and the creation of mechanisms leading to manipulations,” the petitioners said.

“This is yet another piece of proof of the urgent need to free Judaism from the grasp of the political establishment, and of the vital need to democratize religious services.”
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