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Chaotic Situation Develops over Election of Chief Rabbis in Israel

The chaotic situation which has developed over the election of new Chief Rabbis for Israel took an unusual turn today when the chairman of the nominations board announced that one phase of the dispute had been directed to a secular authority, the Israel Attorney General, for clarification.

Rabbi Yehudah Leib Maimon, the chairman, made the announcement at a meeting of the board which was boycotted by three of the four appointees from the Supreme Religious Council. The four representatives named by Rabbi Yaacov Toledano’s Ministry for Religious Affairs were present, as was Rabbi Amram Aburavia, an appointee of the Supreme Religious Council whose accreditation had been withdrawn by the Council because he ignored a directive to boycott last week’s inaugural meeting of the nominations board.

The board appealed for cooperation of all factions to ensure a “fair and proper atmosphere” for the election of an Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi and a Sephardi Chief Rabbi. The election had been scheduled last week for August 26 after months of maneuvering and squabbling. The Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi’s post has been vacant since the death a year ago of Rabbi Isaac Halevi Herzog.

The board also asked non-intervention by “outside factors” an abstention from “incitement which might aggravate the situation. ” Rabbi Maimon then announced that application had been made to the Attorney General’s office for a ruling on the status of Rabbi Aburavia as a member of the nominations board. He also disclosed that the next meeting of the board would be held after the expected ruling by the Attorney General.

In another phase of the dispute, a spokesman for Sephardi Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Nissim said that the rabbinate would not submit a list of practicing rabbis requested by the nominations board, for the Chief Rabbirate elections.

The nominations board requires such a list for selection of 42 of the 70 electors for the Chief Rabbis’ posts. Twenty-eight other electors are laymen. The possibility of a boycott of the elections by the Supreme Council was raised by the non-cooperation announcement regarding the list of rabbis.

Still another complication was the indication by Mizrachi and Hapoel Hamizrachi, the religious parties, which had opposed Rabbi Toledano’s appointment to the Religious Affairs Ministry, that they would support Rabbi..Nissim if he boycotted the elections.

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