A new legal memorandum released proposes to end to the separation between the Ashkenazi chief rabbi and his Sephardi counterpart.
The memo entered circulation Monday morning in preparation for the process of passing the bill. Even if the bill becomes law, it will only be implemented during the next election to the position – expected to take place in roughly a decade.
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Less than three months ago, Rabbi David Lau was elected head the Ashkenazi rabbinate and his counterpart in the Sephardi community, Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef, was elected to lead his flock, after a bitter struggle between the two streams of the Jewish religion. At the time, Religious Affairs Minister Naftali Bennet claimed this was to be the last election in which two chief rabbis would be elected in Israel.
The bill represents a joint-initiative of Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, Religious Affairs Minister Bennet and Deputy Minister of Religious Affairs Rabbi Eli Ben-Dahan.
'One rabbi for one nation'"Israel has one prime minister, one president, one Supreme Court president, and one IDF Chief of Staff – it is time for one rabbi for one nation," said Livni, "It is time for Israel to have one chief rabbi that will unite all the separate segments of Israeli society, a Rabbinate that will provide services to all ethnicities of Israel instead of a country that preserves official – and antiquated – separation of ethnicities. It is possible to respect the traditions of each and every one of us without separating religious authorities."
Bennett added, "This is an important step that symbolizes the unity of the nation. Appointing one chief rabbi is one of the matters in which the only question is why it hasn't happened before.
"It's a move that symbolizes unity in the nation. Today, when Ashkenazi marry Sephardi, there is no reason for two chief rabbis. Just like there is one chief rabbi in the IDF, and there are no separated positions for Ashkenazi and Sephardi in any sector, there is no reason that things will be different for the role of chief rabbi."
According to the proposal, the president of the High Rabbinical Court and the vice president will be appointed by the judges of the court, much in the way that the Supreme Court President and his vice president are appointed. Under the current system the president performs a public role with wide purview, which does not square away with the legal responsibilities of the office.
As of now, the chief rabbi is appointed president of the High Religious Court even if he has no legal qualification to serve as a judge.
Aviel Magnezi contributed to this report
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