JERUSALEM (JTA) — Rabbi Shlomo Riskin’s term as chief rabbi of Efrat was extended five years by Israel’s Council of the Chief Rabbinate.
Riskin appeared before the 16-member council on Monday. He turned 75 last month, the age at which municipal rabbis are required to retire unless their tenure is extended five years, as is usually done automatically.
But the Chief Rabbinate declined to automatically renew Riskin’s appointment as chief rabbi and summoned him late last month for the hearing. Riskin has been the chief rabbi of Efrat since 1983, when he helped found the settlement located in the Gush Etzion bloc of the West Bank.
During the hearing, the legal adviser to the Chief Rabbinate said that only health issues may be considered in determining whether to extend the term of a municipal rabbi. In approving the extension, the council said it disagreed with many of Riskin’s halachic opinions, according to Israel National News. The council also reportedly appointed a committee to establish new guidelines as to what can be discussed in extending a municipal rabbi’s term.
Riskin recently appointed a woman, Jennie Rosenfeld, to serve as a religious leader in Efrat, giving her the title “manhiga ruchanit,” or spiritual adviser. He has also come under fire from the Chief Rabbinate for his views on reforming the conversion process in Israel, supporting a government directive that would allow municipal chief rabbis to form conversion courts rather than requiring potential converts to appear before four Chief Rabbinate-led courts.
These issues reportedly were discussed in connection with summoning Riskin for the hearing.
“Rabbi Riskin is pleased and honored to continue to serve the residents of Efrat, and the extended community, as the City Rabbi as he has done his entire life with an unwavering commitment to Halacha and the laws of the State of Israel,” read a statement from Riskin’s office released after the hearing.
Earlier this month, Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi David Lau said that “the issue of Rabbi Riskin’s continued service has been blown out of proportion.”
In addition, Israel’s chief Sephardi rabbi, Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef, slammed Riskin during his weekly sermon, saying he made “all kinds of innovations” regarding women and is “making a new war.”