In the Chief Rabbinate race there were no winners, only losers. What was is what will be. The latest elections were the last; this is what a religious institution looks like just before its demise - dozens of wheelers and dealers, PR people and anonymous elected officials who inherited blue blood and wisdom from their fathers (not from the Heavenly Father). As opposed to the British royal family, which is celebrating the birth of Kate and William's son, the heads of the religious establishment in Israel are not merely symbols. They are also required to make decisions.
The Chief Rabbinate has a monopoly over the issues of marriage and kashrut. It is in charge of agriculture during shmita, and it is the face of Judaism, for better or– too often – for worse. Members of the Religious-Zionism movement pinned their hopes on Rabbi Stav, but they failed due to an excessive amount of internal politics. The ultra-Orthodox factions proved that when it comes to the honor of the Torah, the sages and of course the lucrative kashrut certification business – they are not suckers.
I admit that I do not know the new rabbis personally. Their statement regarding the intention to bring people closer together is nice. But in order to stop the injustice being done by the Chief Rabbinate to Judaism over the past few years a revolution is needed, not just nice words. Throughout history Judaism has been engaged in dialogue with Christianity. They copied from us, and sometimes we learned from them as well. We unintentionally imported from Christianity the holy trinity of religion, money and politics. The Chief Rabbinate will remain flawed unless politics and money are separated. But the new chief rabbis are incapable of making this happen.
Last night, at the entrance to the Leonardo Hotel, groups of young people wearing black yarmulkes tried to convince potential voters to do what's best for Judaism, or at least what's best for their candidate. When the polling stations closed they waited anxiously for the results. When the results were announced they rejoiced. The Justice Ministry, the body that is in charge of battling corruption, is located a short distance from where the election results were announced. The two government institutions are located close to one another, but the differences between them are vast.
The good news that came from this saga is that the people living in Zion are waking up. The dismal manner in which the Chief Rabbinate race was conducted, with all the bickering and mudslinging, demands a public debate on our religious institutions. The general public has tasted from the tree of knowledge, and no one can cover up the shame of the religious wheeling and dealing.
Now we need to create civilian alternatives and break the monopoly on Judaism the State granted haredi society. We must establish alternative kashrut systems devoid of corruption, alternative marriage systems and many brave rabbis who can serve as spiritual leaders for their communities. The time has come to separate the religious institutions from the State.