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!
  • It’s over. The tyranny of the straight-haired, button nosed, tan-skinned girl has ended. Jewesses rejoice!
  • It's really, really, really hard to get kicked out of Hebrew school these days.
  • "If Netanyahu re-opens the settlement floodgates, he will recklessly bolster the argument of Hamas that the only language Israel understands is violence."
  • Would an ultra-Orthodox leader do a better job of running the Met Council?
  • So, who won the war — Israel or Hamas?
  • 300 Holocaust survivors spoke out against Israel. Did they play right into Hitler's hands?
  • Ari Folman's new movie 'The Congress' is a brilliant spectacle, an exhilarating visual extravaganza and a slapdash thought experiment. It's also unlike anything Forward critic Ezra Glinter has ever seen. http://jd.fo/d4unE
  • The eggplant is beloved in Israel. So why do Americans keep giving it a bad rap? With this new recipe, Vered Guttman sets out to defend the honor of her favorite vegetable.
  • “KlezKamp has always been a crazy quilt of gay and straight, religious and nonreligious, Jewish and gentile.” Why is the klezmer festival shutting down now?
  • “You can plagiarize the Bible, can’t you?” Jill Sobule says when asked how she went about writing the lyrics for a new 'Yentl' adaptation. “A couple of the songs I completely stole." Share this with the theater-lovers in your life!
  • Will Americans who served in the Israeli army during the Gaza operation face war crimes charges when they get back home?
  • Talk about a fashion faux pas. What was Zara thinking with the concentration camp look?
  • “The Black community was resistant to the Jewish community coming into the neighborhood — at first.” Watch this video about how a group of gardeners is rebuilding trust between African-Americans and Jews in Detroit.
  • "I am a Jewish woman married to a non-Jewish man who was raised Catholic, but now considers himself a “common-law Jew.” We are raising our two young children as Jews. My husband's parents are still semi-practicing Catholics. When we go over to either of their homes, they bow their heads, often hold hands, and say grace before meals. This is an especially awkward time for me, as I'm uncomfortable participating in a non-Jewish religious ritual, but don't want his family to think I'm ungrateful. It's becoming especially vexing to me now that my oldest son is 7. What's the best way to handle this situation?" http://jd.fo/b4ucX What would you do?
  • Maybe he was trying to give her a "schtickle of fluoride"...
  • 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.