TEL AVIV (Jul. 30)
President Chaim Herzog declined to react Tuesday to a rabbi who accused him of besmirching Jewish values.
“The president does not respond to personal attacks,” was the terse statement issued by the President’s Office in Jerusalem after Rabbi Eliezer Schach of Bnei Brak denounced Israel’s chief of state for defending “pig-eating” kibbutzniks.
Schach, who hails from Lithuania, is spiritual mentor of the Degel HaTorah party and an influential authority in the larger, predominantly Sephardic Shas party. Both belong to the haredi bloc, the right-wing Orthodox parties that provide Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir’s Likud-led government with its comfortable margin in the Knesset.
Schach’s quarrel with the president arose after Herzog spoke in defense of the kibbutz movement. He did so earlier this year after the Bnei Brak rabbi publicly accused “pig-eating and pig-breeding” kibbutzniks of leading pious Oriental Jews away from traditional Judaism.
Herzog spoke out again last month after Absorption Minister Yitzhak Peretz objected to housing Ethiopian olim at kibbutzim because they would be taught to abandon traditional values.
How was it possible for the president, “the son of a great rabbi, to praise the people of the kibbutzim who exalt the pig, and even pay them compliments?” Schach asked rhetorically.
The Irish-born Herzog is the son of the late Rabbi Yitzhak Herzog, Israel’s first Ashkenazic chief rabbi and former chief rabbi of Britain and Ireland.