Aspirants for Chief Rabbi Posts Intensify Campaign Activities

Four aspirants for the two posts of Chief Rabbi–Ashkenazi and Sephardic–intensified their campaigning, one week before the long delayed chief rabbinate elections will take place. The target of next Sunday’s balloting is not the population at large but a 150-member electoral college selected after weeks of haggling in part by local communities and religious councils and in part by the government.

Conservative supporters of the Ashkenazic Chief Rabbi Isser Yehuda Unterman already are charging that the government stacked the college in favor of his challenger, Chief Rabbi Shlomo Goren of Tel Aviv. They are seeking a member of the electoral college who would be willing to appeal to the Supreme Court against the government’s alleged bias.

Meanwhile, the incumbent Sephardic Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Nissim, faces a determined challenge by the much younger Sephardic Chief Rabbi of Tel Aviv Ovadiah Yosef. Rabbi Nissim reportedly has made common cause with Rabbi Goren. Claims that a rift existed between the two were emphatically denied by Rabbi Goren’s followers who said they are “like brothers with one heart.”

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