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Kollek Protests Appointment of New Religious Council

Mayor Teddy Kollek has protested to Justice Minister Yaacov Shimshon Shapiro over what the Mayor called the appointment without proper procedure of a new religious council here by Dr. Zerach Warhaftig, Minister for Religious Affairs. Religious councils are responsible for the purveying of Jewish religious services to their local populations, including the payment of the salaries of rabbis, supervisors of ritual slaughter and other functionaries. The councils are appointed by the Religious Affairs Minister, but should reflect the wishes of the religious segment of each town or city, and the final appointments normally are made after consultation with the municipal councils.

Kollek charged that the municipal council here had not been consulted on the appointment of this city’s religious council, and that the religious sector had not been properly heard. He noted in this connection that Poalet Agudat Israel, which has three representatives on the municipal council, has been given only two seats on the religious council. Each council has 31 members. Furthermore, Kollek pointed out, the Labor Party has received eight seats instead of the nine it had been promised.

The choosing of a religious council is the first stage toward the election of a new Chief Rabbinate, which is chosen by a panel of electors appointed by the religious councils (two-thirds of the panel) and by the municipal councils (one-third). The appointees must be citizens who respect Jewish tradition. If Justice Minister Shapiro rejects Kollek’s protest, the Mayor can appeal to the High Court or ask for a committee of ministers to reconsider the case.

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