New Chief Rabbis Prepare to Take over Their Posts
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New Chief Rabbis Prepare to Take over Their Posts

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Israel’s new chief rabbis prepared today to take over their posts in the Hechal Shlomo, the chief rabbinate center in Jerusalem as messages poured in from all over the world congratulating them on their election victories Sunday. The new Sephardic Chief Rabbi Ovadiah Yosef has already Installed himself and his staff in the Hechal Shlomo and began working this morning. The staff of Rabbi Shlomo Goren, the newly elected Ashkenazic Chief Rabbi, preceded him to the Hechal Shlomo where they are preparing the office previously occupied by former Chief Rabbi Issar Yehuda Unterman.

Rabbi Goren’s “coronation” will take place in Jerusalem Nov. 21, it was announced today. Rabbi Yosef will be officially crowned in the Old City during the Chanuka week in Dec. Both rabbis will continue to serve as the Ashkenazic and Sephardic chief rabbis of Tel Aviv respectively until successors are elected, probably not for a year. Israelis generally place high hopes in the ability of the two new chief rabbis to find fair solutions to problems that have bitterly divided the religious and non-religious segments of the population.


Rabbi Goren, who was born in Poland 56 years ago and served as Chief Chaplain of Israel’s armed forces for 23 years. Is regarded as a brilliant Torah scholar whose knowledge, ingenuity and persistence enables him to Interpret religious law in a manner that can be reconciled with the needs of a modern society without altering the law’s letter or spirit. He came to Palestine with his family in 1928, Joined the Haganah, and served as a supernumerary policeman in the defense of Jerusalem in 1948. He found time to study the classics and philosophy at the Hebrew University. He wrote a treatise on mathematics and a book on Maimonides that was published when he was 17.

As Army Chaplain, Rabbi Goren was popular with men of all ranks, and non-observant and observant soldiers. He earned his wings as a paratrooper and ruled once that the Torah could be dropped by parachute over a battlefield even though religious law forbids throwing the Holy Scriptures. Rabbi Goren said that if it is securely wrapped and enclosed in a box the Torah cannot be said to have been thrown. His unconventional approach was demonstrated when he proposed that the ancient Sanhedrin be reconvened so that religious law could be re-examined in a new light.

Rabbi. Yosef, 51, also is considered a genius in the field of Torah, and has had a long career as Judge and rabbi. Born in Baghdad, he studied at a yeshiva in Jerusalem and in 1945 was appointed a member of the rabbinical court. Two years later he went to Egypt to become assistant chief rabbi and chief Justice of the rabbinical court that served Egypt’s then large Jewish community. In 1950, Rabbi Yosef was appointed to the rabbinical court In Petach Tikvah, a post he held until 1958 when he was named a member of the Jerusalem rabbinical court. In 1965 he became a member of the rabbinical high court of appeals and was elected Sephardic Chief Rabbi of Tel Aviv in 1969, the same year Rabbi Goren became Ashkenazic Chief Rabbi of Israel’s largest city.

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