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One Chief Rabbi Urged for Sephardi and Ashkenazi Communities in Israel

The passing of Dr. Isaac Halevi Herzog, Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi, revived support today for an effort to establish one Chief Rabbi and end the duality of separate spiritual leaders for the Ashkenazi and Sephardi communities.

The executive of the General Zionist Party, passed a resolution embodying that proposal after a meeting at which the executive eulogized the memory of Rabbi Herzog who died peacefully in his sleep Saturday at 71. The resolution contended that the dual Chief Rabbis in effect gave legal recognition of the division of Israel into two communities.

Davar, the organ of the Mapai Party, in a supporting editorial, suggested that Rabbi Yitzhak Nissim, the Sephardi Chief Rabbi, would remain the rabbinical representative of all communities in Israel.

An indication that the proposal for one Chief Rabbi still lacked effective support was indicated by speculation on Rabbi Herzog’s possible successor. Names mentioned included those of Chief Chaplain Shlomo Goren; Dr. J. B. Soloveitchik of Brookline, Mass. Chief Rabbi Issar Yehuda Unterman of Tel Aviv; the famous Lubavitcher Rabbi; and S. Y. Zevvin of Jerusalem, editor of the Talmudic Encyclopedia.

Chaplain Goren was reportedly favored by the “progressive” elements of the Israel Orthodox community, partly because he recently gave the opinion that electricity may be used on the Sabbath. Rabbi Soloveitchik reportedly was favored by the National Religious Party. There was some doubt, however, as to whether he would accept.

Elections of the Chief Rabbis are held every five years and the next elections are scheduled for February, 1960. Rabbi Nissim was expected to remain, at least in the interim, as exclusive Chief Rabbi. One proposal which was considered as having some chance was an arrangement in which the Sephardi and Ashkenazi Chief Rabbis would each serve a term successfully, thus dispensing with the duality problem while still conforming to the existence of the two religious communities.

The Knesset, Israel’s Parliament, observed two minutes of standing silence in honor of the memory of Chief Rabbi Isaac Halevi Herzog. Dr. Mordecai Nurock. Knesset deputy of the National Religious Party, eulogized the late spiritual leader.

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