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Mazuz may cancel haredi judicial appointments
Matthew Wagner
05/02/2007
Attorney-General may annul the recent appointment of 15 rabbinic judges due to a flawed voting process.
Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz may annul the recent appointment of 15 rabbinic judges due to a flawed voting process. In a telephone conversation Tuesday, Mazuz notified Chief Sephardi Rabbi Shlomo Amar that he was considering disqualifying the appointments and reconvening the appointment committee, sources in the Rabbinate told The Jerusalem Post. Twelve of the 15 religious court judges (dayanim) appointed on March 19 were haredim, and the 10-member committee that chose them has six haredi members. Sources close to Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, the eminent haredi halachic authority, said there was a dispute between Mazuz and Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann, who presided over the committee and approved the appointments. Elyashiv and Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, spiritual mentor of Shas, decided in advance which candidates would be selected and dictated their choice to the appointment committee members, according to MK Nissan Slomiansky (National Religious Party), a member of the appointment panel. Slomiansky, along with two committee members who represent the Israel Bar Association, Eli Shmuelian and Sharon Shenhav, walked out before the vote in protest. "We never even had a serious discussion about the candidates before the vote," said Slomiansky. "Committee members simply showed up with lists that were prepared in advance." The remaining panel members, who include Amar, two rabbinic judges, Friedmann and Shas MK Yitzhak Vaknin, voted without them. The judges will join around 100 peers who rule on marital law. Israel has no separation between religion and state, therefore marriage and divorce for Jews is performed according to Orthodox law. Women's advocacy groups say haredi judges are unsympathetic to the plight of women undergoing divorce. Others complained that the appointments were based on cronyism, not merit. At least three successful candidates have ties to Yosef or Elyashiv. For instance, Rabbi Shlomo Stessman is the son of Prof. Yochanan Stessman, Yosef's personal physician, and Rabbi Binyamin Atias is the brother of Communications Minister Ariel Atias, who holds the No. 2 slot in Shas. Rabbi Yosef Rabbinovitz is the brother of Chief Rabbi of the Western Wall Shmuel Rabbinovitz, who is close to Elyashiv. The Supreme Court combined three separate petitions against the appointments. The Israel Bar Association, Tzohar Rabbis and Emunah, an Orthodox women's organization, all say the voting process violated the rules governing the selection of rabbinic judges.
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