David Stav Aims To Oust Haredim From Israeli Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Post

Bounced From Power, Ultra-Orthodox Face Rabbinate Loss

Strong Run: David Stav is lining up an impressive array of support in his run to be the Ashkenazi chief rabbi.
courtesy of david stav
Strong Run: David Stav is lining up an impressive array of support in his run to be the Ashkenazi chief rabbi.

By Nathan Jeffay

Published April 09, 2013, issue of April 12, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

(page 2 of 3)

“My dream is that the couple gets an appointment for 9 a.m. and they will be out at 9.30 a.m.,” he said. “During those 30 minutes, they will have drunk a cup of coffee with some cookies, and in these 30 minutes they should have done whatever they need to do…. When they will speak to the rabbi or rebbetzin or whoever they speak to, they will be inspired, and after 30 minutes they will say: ‘That’s it’? So fast, so easy, so nice?”

Stav’s vision goes beyond smiling employees and coffee machines to confront some of the deep problems facing the rabbinate. Couples are supposed to go to their local rabbinate office, but registrars in some regions of Israel refuse marriage applications for which one or both applicants are converts out of a mistrust of conversion procedures. They do so even though the conversions are actually supervised by the very rabbinate that employs them, but as registrars are tenured, the chief rabbis are unable to fire them.

Stav is promising to deregulate marriage registration, allowing any Israeli Jew to register his or her marriage at any regional rabbinate office. With couples free to go wherever they want, offices that give couples a hard time will soon find themselves abandoned for friendlier offices, he said.

Stav wants to make not only rabbinate offices more welcoming, but also remodel the Israeli face of the Jewish religion in general. The state-run Conversion Authority works slowly and bureaucratically, deterring hundreds of thousands of immigrants from the former USSR who have Jewish lineage but who are not halachically Jewish. They miss many of the benefits of being Jewish in Israel relating to marriage, burial and passing on their Jewishness to their children. In 2011 the state’s Conversion Authority performed just 4,293 conversions, compared with 8,008 in 2007. From 2008 to 2010, the number of conversions dropped to 4,645 from 6,221.

Part of the problem, Stav said, is that when potential converts meet with religious officials, they feel like they are being “investigated by an agent of the police or a Mossad agent.” Instead of treating conversion candidates with suspicion, he wants to welcome them in and try to attract others, convincing them that there is a value to becoming Jewish. Conversion studies will take on more of a component of Jewish philosophy alongside Jewish law.

He and his Tzohar colleagues are concerned that if large numbers of Israelis who identify culturally as Jewish remain halachically non-Jewish, and if marriage registration isn’t overhauled and more couples are driven to avoid Israeli marriage, the government will have no choice but to introduce civil marriage. If this scenario unfolds, he fears, within a few decades millions of Israelis will be halachically non-Jewish. “We feel that if we don’t change the system, we’ll have to confront in 10 to 15 years a society that is divided into two nations,” he said.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Vered Guttman doesn't usually get nervous about cooking for 20 people, even for Passover. But last night was a bit different. She was cooking for the Obamas at the White House Seder.
  • A grumpy Jewish grandfather is wary of his granddaughter's celebrating Easter with the in-laws. But the Seesaw says it might just make her appreciate Judaism more. What do you think?
  • “Twist and Shout.” “Under the Boardwalk.” “Brown-Eyed Girl.” What do these great songs have in common? A forgotten Jewish songwriter. We tracked him down.
  • What can we learn from tragedies like the rampage in suburban Kansas City? For one thing, we must keep our eyes on the real threats that we as Jews face.
  • When is a legume not necessarily a legume? Philologos has the answer.
  • "Sometime in my childhood, I realized that the Exodus wasn’t as remote or as faceless as I thought it was, because I knew a former slave. His name was Hersh Nemes, and he was my grandfather." Share this moving Passover essay!
  • Getting ready for Seder? Chag Sameach! http://jd.fo/q3LO2
  • "We are not so far removed from the tragedies of the past, and as Jews sit down to the Seder meal, this event is a teachable moment of how the hatred of Jews-as-Other is still alive and well. It is not realistic to be complacent."
  • Aperitif Cocktail, Tequila Shot, Tom Collins or Vodka Soda — Which son do you relate to?
  • Elvis craved bacon on tour. Michael Jackson craved matzo ball soup. We've got the recipe.
  • This is the face of hatred.
  • What could be wrong with a bunch of guys kicking back with a steak and a couple of beers and talking about the Seder? Try everything. #ManSeder
  • BREAKING: Smirking killer singled out Jews for death in suburban Kansas City rampage. 3 die in bloody rampage at JCC and retirement home.
  • Real exodus? For Mimi Minsky, it's screaming kids and demanding hubby on way down to Miami, not matzo in the desert.
  • The real heroines of Passover prep aren't even Jewish. But the holiday couldn't happen without them.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.