Yesh Atid Endorses David Stav for Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi

The announcement came the week after Yisrael Beiteinu endorsed Stav and amid uncertainty regarding the future makeup of the rabbinate.

The Yesh Atid political party announced its support Sunday for Rabbi David Stav's candidacy to become the chief Ashkenazi rabbi of Israel.

The endorsement, made by MK Shay Piron (Yesh Atid), comes the week after the Yisrael Beiteinu party threw its weight behind Stav.

Piron, who ranks second on his party's slate behind only Yair Lapid, is an ordained rabbi and a member of Tzohar, the rabbinical organization Stav heads, which is known for its public outreach.

"Yesh Atid sees great value in the next chief rabbi being someone who himself and whose children have served in the Israel Defense Forces and who would be an example of the greatness of the Torah and social involvement," Piron said.

Stav's election is far from assured by the support of the two parties. The electoral body that chooses Israel's chief rabbi is made up of 150 representatives, including mayors, chief rabbis of cities, the heads of rabbinical councils and Knesset members. The winner will to a great extent be dependent on the shape of the government coalition and particularly who the next minister of religious services is, since he can appoint representatives to the electoral body.

In the interim, the Chief Rabbinical Council convened Monday for what was to be its last session, although it may now meet again to make a range of decisions related to issues including kashrut supervision agencies, the ordination of rabbis and rabbinical court judges and burial policies. The proposed extension of current Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi Yona Metzger's authority to approve kashrut certifications in Jerusalem after he steps down on March 24 did not come up for discussion. Jerusalem has not had a chief rabbi for years, and it is not clear who else would assume the responsibility. The subject was ostensibly not broached Wednesday because the head of the Jerusalem Rabbinical Council was not present.

The 10-year term of current Sephardi Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar also expires on March 24, prior to the Passover holiday. Following January's national election, the date for the selection of both chief rabbis' replacements was deferred. Between the end of the current terms and the beginning of the new ones, Givatayim Chief Rabbi Yosef Glicksberg, the most senior rabbi in the country, will head the chief rabbinate. A rabbinical court judge will be chosen as interim head of the Supreme Rabbinical Court of Appeals.

It is possible Amar will run for another term as Sephardic chief rabbi if Shas-party legislation allowing second terms passes the Knesset.

Gali Eytan