Ultra-Orthodox leaders in Jerusalem are threatening to cut off all ties with the municipal rabbinate if the city elects a Zionist chief rabbi. Mayor Nir Barkat recently declared that he is committed to appointing a Zionist rabbi for the city.
"If there's a rabbi whose level or halachic views do not correspond with the haredim's demands – the spiritual leaders will call on the community to shun the Jerusalem rabbinate," declared city council member Shlomo Rosenstein (United Torah Judaism).
According to Rosenstein, Jerusalem is one of the only cities in which the haredi public trusts the religious council in matters of kashrut, eruv and mikvaot, and he believes that electing a rabbi who is not accepted by this public could have a devastating effect on ties that have been nurtured for many years.
Such a move, he added, could also deter the hundreds of thousands of ultra-orthodox tourists who rely on the kashrut of local hotels, from staying there.
'Unite around one candidate'
Members of the Zionist religious factions in the capital believe they will be able to reach an agreement with Shas that will allow for the appointment of a Zionist Ashkenazi chief rabbi.
Mayor Barkat said at a conference in Jerusalem on Sunday that there is currently "a genuine opportunity to appoint a Zionist chief rabbi," who can communicate with both the general and observant public.
Deputy Mayor David Harari (National Union-National Religious Party), who also spoke at the event, called on the entire religious Zionist public to unite around a single candidate and work for his election.
Rabbi Rabbi Rafi Feuerstein, chairman of the Tzohar organization, added that, "It is unthinkable that at a time when Zionism is under attack around the world, we do not place a Zionist figure at the heart of this country."