Suspended Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger (R) and Sephardic Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar
Photo: Alex Kolomoiski
Nechama Duek
Photo: Yair Sagi

Close Chief Rabbinate now

Op-ed: Rabbinate has become a synonym for nepotism, distancing people from religion

Since the death of Rabbi Kook, who established the Chief Rabbinate and was a chief rabbi who outlined a way and a vision, there has been no chief rabbi – neither Ashkenazi nor Sephardic – who has managed to create consensus.


If a chief rabbi fails to gain the respect and desire allowing him to represent the people – and this has been the situation for many years – the continued existence of this institution is devoid of meaning. It's not the title of "chief rabbi" which generates appreciation, but the personality and ability of the person holding this title to design the midpoint where the majority of the people are located.


Some will say that the Chief Rabbinate supervises the nation's religious services. To those people I say that kashrut is a technical, rather than spiritual, matter. In fact, all religious services the State must provide to those citizens interested in them are technical. Building a ritual bath is technical. A cemetery is technical. Marrying couples is technical. Technical in a way that its rules are clear and there is no need to reinvent the wheel. A chief rabbi should be a spiritual authority, not a kosher supervisor.


In every synagogue there is a neighborhood or community rabbi capable of meeting his flock's needs on issues he engages in; ultra-Orthodox yeshivot disregard the Chief Rabbinate in any case and each faction has its own rebbe who is seen as the supreme authority; and a Torah sage does not need the Rabbinate in order to issue halachic rulings to those interested in them. In order to deal with the technical issues, a government ministry will suffice.


Unfortunately, and regardless of suspicions that Rabbi Metzger allegedly took a bribe and engaged in money laundering, the Chief Rabbinate has turned into an axe to grind. A title devoid of meaning, which has nothing to do with religious leadership.


I can't recall, for years, a halachic ruling which made a difference in the world. Instead, the Chief Rabbinate has become a synonym for nepotism, charging money to hold a Jewish marriage ceremony, refusal to accept the other, stationing kosher supervisor in necessary and unnecessary places, etc. There is no wonder then that the demand to shut it down is being voiced today from within the religious sector as well.


The Rabbinate – both the Ashkenazi and Sephardic – has distanced itself from the people, and instead of serving as an accepted and uniting common denominator, has distanced the people from religion. It should be closed, the sooner the better.



פרסום ראשון: 06.23.13, 19:59
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