The Israel Police are interviewing candidates to head the force’s Jewish law department, which rules on matters of halakha for officers. According to the published job description, the position involves “providing appropriate halakhic solutions for interested police officers and writing articles and rulings on broad matters of Jewish law.” The call for applications for the chief-superintendent-level position was issued despite the fact that district rabbis in the police rabbinate are responsible for issuing rulings when requested to do so by officers.
In addition to experience in issuing halakhic rulings and the ability to write articles and rulings, candidates must have “familiarity with the various religious communities as well as rabbis and spiritual leaders,” as well as “the ability to issue religious rulings to security and rescue organizations in periods of routine and emergency.” Combat, command or operational experience is desirable but not mandatory.
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In addition, only rabbis ordained by the Chief Rabbinate are eligible for the position, a requirement that automatically disqualifies potential candidates who are female or from non-Orthodox streams of Judaism.
The decision to create the new position was made by the chief rabbi of the Israel Police, Commander Rami Brachyahu. He previously served as the rabbi of the West Bank settlement of Talmon and of a program to recruit graduates of Zionist yeshivas to the force. That program ended in July due to a lack of interest.
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Brachiyahu is considered a relatively moderate Orthodox rabbi, who has said that he didn’t see the need for a “Jewish awareness” department in the police, as there is in the army. “My role is to raise the spirit of the officers,” he said a few months ago at Bar-Ilan University, “to connect them with something uplifting, divine and spiritual through Judaism.”
In a written response, the Israel Police said the new position was created to meet “a growing demand from police officers for a halakhic answer to issues relating to service.”
The response confirmed that only rabbis recognized by the Chief Rabbinate are eligible, but added: “It’s important to stress that so far, all of the issues submitted to the police rabbinate have been of an Orthodox nature, so it’s only natural” for the job to go to an Orthodox candidate.
“In that context,” the police rabbinate said, “We note that the Israel Police are in the advanced stages of hiring a female officer at the rank of chief inspector for a position in the police rabbinate... to improve the halakhic response given to female police officers.”