The Ministerial Committee for Legislation voted Sunday to back a bill under which Israel would have only one chief rabbi and not two.
- Abolish Israel’s Chief Rabbinate
- Livni, Bennett Propose Bill to Do Away With Separate Chief Rabbis for Ashkenazi and Sephardi Jews
- Cabinet Expected to Approve 'One Chief Rabbi' Bill
- Bill for One Chief Rabbi of Israel Gains Traction in Knesset
Israel has always had an Ashkenazi chief rabbi representing the northern European tradition and a Sephardi chief rabbi representing the Mediterranean or Middle Eastern tradition.
If the bill is approved by a vote in the Knesset plenum, the new sole chief rabbi would head the Chief Rabbinate Council. The new law would also provide a clear delineation between the Chief Rabbinate and the rabbinical courts, which would be defined as an independent judicial institution.
The bill would change the current situation under which the two chief rabbis alternate every five years, with one heading the Rabbinate Council and the other serving as chief dayan, or religious court judge, of the Higher Rabbinical Court.
The bill would see the appointment of the president and deputy president of the Higher Rabbinical Court by dayanim serving at the time of the appointment, similar to the process for appointing the president and deputy president of the Supreme Court. Today, the chief rabbi is automatically the head of the Higher Rabbinical Court, even if he does not have certification to serve as a dayan.
If the cabinet approves the bill, it will proceed to the Knesset for its first reading. Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, who has been pushing the legislation, called on her cabinet colleagues to pass it.
In a country where there is only one president, one Supreme Court president, one prime minister and one IDF chief of staff, there is no justification to double the position of chief rabbi. We must end the archaic ethnic division among the people and bring people closer to together, she said.
The State of Israel deserves a single [chief] rabbi who will unify the various parts of society, who will lead a rabbinate that provides services to the entire Jewish Israeli community, with all its ethnic groups. Honoring the tradition from each of our homes does not need to be accompanied by divisiveness.