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Jun 20, 2023

clean elections for Chief Rabbinate

The coalition infight continues as UTJ bad-mouths Smotritch and Shas and Otzma Yehudit continue to snipe at each other. The Shas and Otzma sniping is the interesting part.

Shas recently decided it wanted to push off the elections for the Chief Rabbinate so it prepared a law to enable that. The law passed its first reading yesterday and Otzma did not vote for it. Otzma criticized Shas for changing the rules of the game in the middle of the game. Elections are underway, candidates have announced and have been campaigning and now is not the time to make changes. Shas claims they have to push it off to keep the elections kosher. While I do not understand it, the issue is the proximity of the Chief Rabbinate elections to the upcoming municipal elections and somehow one affects the other with mayors possibly supporting rabbinic candidates when they themselves might not be re-elected. 

So, Otzma did not support the bill presented by Shas to postpone the Chief Rabbinate elections. Shas then accused Otzma of having "interests" and those interests being behind their opposition. What are their interests? Minister Amichai Eliyahu is the son of Rav Shmuel Eliyahu and according to Shas, Otzma is making this trouble because they want Rav Shmuel Eliyahu to be appointed Chief Rabbi. Shas says they tried to push his candidacy and tried to make a deal in exchange for supporting postponing the bill. Shas accused Otzma of being willing to forgo election purity if they would have been able to get some positions for their people.
source: Kikar

The funny part is that the Chief Rabbinate elections require no purity or anything at all. they are not even actually elections, more like selections, with Shas almost completely controlling the entire process. Whether Otzma wanted Rav Eliyahu appointed or not, is that any worse than Shas trying to decide between supporting Aryeh Deri's brother or Rav Yizchak Yosef's brother? Is only Otzma not allowed to prefer a family member (if they actually did)?

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  1. It's really quite simple: The Yosefs and the Deris both want their man to be Chief Rabbi. So Deri (the minister) figures he'll push things off until after the municipal elections, and if Lion wins in Jerusalem (which of course he will; he's practically unopposed) and Shas gets a nice amount of City Council seats, the latter can pressure the former (again, this is weird, as Lion probably doesn't need to be pressured) into appointing Yosef (the brother) as Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem and then there'll be no opposition to Deri (the brother) being appointed Chief Rabbi of the country.

    It's all quite disgusting, of course. It should also be pointed out that Eliyahu (the father) is often mentioned as a candidate for Chief Rabbi, regardless of who his son is, and Eliyahu (the father) is very close to Ben-Gvir politically to boot. But there was a deal that the Sephardi Chief Rabbi would be charedi (meaning Shas would pick him) and the Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi would be Dati Leumi (meaning Smotrich would pick him). Shas *really* doesn't want to lose that deal and have *two* Dati Leumi Chief Rabbis, and of course UTJ doesn't want to lose it either. Plus, UTJ (and maybe Shas) is really upset that Smotrich decided to appoint Meir Kahane, who's something of a "liberal" (very relatively speaking) on the Ashkenazi side- they were hoping for someone much more chardali and/or much older and thus more easily manipulated. Or that the push to increase the age would fail and Smotrich would be left without a candidate, and maybe *they* would get two. And here Smotrich, mirable dictu, picks a young, liberal, non-nepotistic rabbi, and they are fuming. They will not give on on their guy, and maybe even try for two.

    I say the Zionist world should take advantage of the Deri-Yosef fight and seize total control of the Rabbinate right now. Except no one outside the religious parties cares.

    1. The only correction I would make to this is that Smotritch did not pick Rav Kahane but a committee of DL rabbonim selected him and Smotritch had committed to abide by their decision.
      Smotritch's preference was actually changing the law that limits the Chief Rabbi by age so that Rav Shapira from Merkaz Harav could be the candidate. The Haredim also prefer that as he is acceptable to them, with Rav Micha Levi as the second option. It seems the merkaz harav people pushed the candidacy of Rav Kahane in able to mess up the relations with the Haredim in retaliation for Smotritch not getting the law changed. Delaying the elections means everything opens up again and Rav Kahane loses his spot as the DL candidate and likely wont get it back.

    2. More's the pity.

  2. I think that there is almost zero chance that Rav Shmuel Eliyahu would win the position of Sfardi Chief Rabbi.

    The voting body is made up of 80 Rabbis and 70 "Public officials" (including mayors, judges, MKs). The 80 Rabbis are split between DL and Haredi communities. Assuming that Shas only has one candidate, and he gets almost all of the Haredi votes, and the Rav Shmuel Eliayhu Candidate would get the DL votes, the balance of power would be in the hands of the Public officials

    Basically for the DL Candidate to win, he would need the backing of the Mayor of Tel Aviv and other like-minded people. Given Rav Eliyahu's public statements about Arabs, and his close ties to Ben Gvir, what are the chances of people like Ron Huldai voting for him?


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