Religious Groups in Israel Split over Elections of Chief Rabbi

Moshe Shapira, Minister of the Interior and leader of the National Religious Party, walked out of the Cabiret meeting yesterday in protest against the choice by Cabinet majority of a new Government representative on the nominating commission for the Chief Rabbinate elections.

The new appointee, Asher Rosenblum, former director general of the Ministry of Interior, under Mr. Shapira, belongs to the faction of the National Religious Party which favors Chief Army Chaplain Shlomo Gorez’s candidacy for the post of Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi. Mr. Shapira opposes Rabbi Goren.

The Chief Rabbinate Council, meanwhile, reiterated a call to all rabbis to boycott the Chief Rabbinate elections, and not participate as electors. The Rabbinate statement recalled a proclamation issued earlier that “under present conditions, it is impossible to hold public free elections which would guarantee the spiritual independence of the Chief Rabbinate.”

The new Government appointee on the nominating commission will replace Rabbi Eliezer Waldenberg, who resigned several weeks ago under pressure from the Rabbinate, leaving the nominating body without the necessary quorum of five members. Three Rabbinate appointees had resigned earlier this year.

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