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Government, Rabbinical Tribunal Clash

A new clash shaped up today between government authorities and the Orthodox religious establishment. States Attorney Meir Shamgar has prepared a brief asking the Supreme Court to restrain the Supreme Rabbinical Tribunal from summoning a Cabinet minister to account to it for actions taken in his official capacity. But filing of the brief has been delayed pending a consensus by the Cabinet.

The Supreme Rabbinical Tribunal has ordered Minister of Social Welfare Michael Hazani to appear before a district tribunal to explain his activities in support of a government program for civilian national service for religious girls, a measure bitterly opposed in ultra-Orthodox circles. Under Israeli law, rabbinical courts have jurisdiction only in matters of personal status. But the rabbinical tribunal contends that its authority is supreme for all observant Jews. Hazani is a member of the Orthodox National Religious Party.

A more liberal position on the Issue was taken by Tel Aviv’s Chief Rabbi, Shlomo Goren, a leading candidate for the post of Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of Israel. Rabbi Goren told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency in Tel Aviv today that in his opinion a Cabinet minister could not be called to account for his actions to a rabbinical court unless the entire Cabinet approved. He said that inasmuch as Cabinet ministers have collective responsibility, summoning one minister is tantamount to calling the entire Cabinet to account.

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