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Today: The end of the Chief Rabbi terms

The Chief Rabbi. Wikipedia

After 11 years of a long term, the Chief Rabbis of Israel will step down today: the Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi David Lau and the Chief Sephardic Rabbi, the Rishon Le’Zion Yitzhak Yosef. Because of the postponement of the elections to the Chief Rabbinate (which stems from a combination of politics and war, as we described here on the website), the State of Israel enters for the first time in its history for a period without chief rabbis. The intended replacement, the 86-year-old head of the Rabbinate’s council, Rabbi Yitzhak Peretz, rejected the application due to medical circumstances, and the law does not provide additional details for such a situation. In this regard, it should be noted that Rabbi Yehuda Deri – the brother of the head of the Shas party, the rabbi of Beer Sheva and one of the main candidates for the Rishon Le’zion office, is in a difficult medical hospitalization in recent days, and this could have political implications.

The official functions filled by the Chief Rabbis will be replaced by other rabbis: The Presidency of the Great Rabbinical Court (a role in which there is rotation among the Chief Rabbis) will pass to Rabbi Eliezer Igraa, the rabbi of the village of Kfar Maimon; and the President of the Chief Rabbinate Council will be Rabbi Yaakov Roja, the rabbi of Bat Yam. Rabbi Roja is considered to be the largest expert in the field of identifying the fallen in the IDF and beyond (a field entrusted to the Rabbinate), and in the present war he was in fact solely responsible for the difficult duty.

The term of the Chief Rabbis, Lao and Yosef, will be remembered as moderate, and as such, returning to the Rabbinate a little of the respect lost after Rabbi Yona Metzger’s term. Rabbi Lau proved relatively pragmatic, and was known for his efforts to help Agunot; and Rabbi Yosef’s Torah greatness cannot be overlooked, despite the controversial expressions he produced, especially in the second half of his term. The two avoided politics, except in their opposition to the reforms proposed by the former minister of religions, Matan Kahane, in conversion and kashrut, and even now, regarding the issue of recruiting the ultra-Orthodox. With their departure, the Chief Rabbinate enters a certain fog, when a public inquiry and clarification should be made regarding its desired functions in society, in light of the fierce public opposition that was revealed two weeks ago regarding the Rabbinical Law.

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