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News Brief

October 27, 2006
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A leading Israeli rabbi came out against the Tel Aviv chief rabbi’s candidacy for national president. Yisrael Meir Lau, a former Israeli chief rabbi, is considered a front-runner to succeed President Moshe Katsav, who is due to step down next year but is widely expected to resign earlier amid a sex scandal. But Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, mentor to the powerful Sephardi Orthodox party Shas, described Lau’s candidacy Thursday as inappropriate. “It would be unseemly for a fervently Orthodox Jew to serve as president of the country,” Yosef was quoted as saying by the religious journal Hamishpachah. “Our connection to the state is our influence on Jewish identity and strengthening Torah and good deeds. What connection do we have to the symbols and ceremonies of state?” The remarks seemed likely to ensure that Shas would not vote for Lau when the Knesset votes on a new president. Vice Premier Shimon Peres, another presidential hopeful, has been courting Shas.

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