Only One Chief Rabbi in Israel Under New Knesset Bill

Ashkenazi and Sephardi Each Have State Leader for Now

On Top For Now: Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi Blau speaks at a Jewish school in Berlin.
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On Top For Now: Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi Blau speaks at a Jewish school in Berlin.

By JTA

Published January 19, 2014.
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A Knesset committee voted to approve a bill that would create one chief rabbi position instead of the current two.

The Knesset Ministerial Committee for Legislation voted Sunday to approve the legislation, proposed by Justice Minister Tzipi Livni of the Hatnua Party, and co-sponsored by Religious Affairs Minister Naftali Bennett and lawmaker Eli Ben-Dahan of the Jewish Home Party.

The bill must be approved by the Cabinet and then pass three readings in the Knesset in order to pass. It would take effect after the ten-year terms of the current chief rabbis, Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi David Lau and Sephardic Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef, expire.

“In a state where there is only one president, one Supreme Court president, one prime minister and one chief of general staff, there is no way to justify the doubling of the position of chief rabbi,” she said. “We have to rid ourselves of the old-fashioned division of ancestral congregations and start bringing the country together.”

The new law also would make the rabbinical courts independent of the office of the chief rabbinate, rather than the current situation in which the two chief rabbis alternate serving as the head of the Rabbinate Council and as chief religious court judge, of the Higher Rabbinical Court.


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