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Knesset Establishes Permanent Election System for Religious Councils

March 31, 1967
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A bill establishing permanent procedures for election of Religious Councils in Israel was approved by Parliament last night. The duty of such councils is to supply the religious needs of Jews in their area of jurisdiction.

There are about 200 such councils in Israel and they serve as official employers of rabbis and kosher certification supervisors. The law gives permanence to rules on such elections based on an agreement between Premier Levi Eshkol’s Mapai Party and the religious parties. The rules have hitherto been enacted for fixed periods only.

Under the new law, 45 percent of members of the councils will be chosen by the town council or the local council, 45 percent by the Religious Affairs Ministry and 10 percent by the Chief Rabbinate. The law provides that all councils must be reconstituted next October 1 and every four years thereafter.

The coalition parties, the Agudat Israel and former Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion’s dissident Israel Workers Party (Rafi) voted for the measure. The Gahal alignment of Liberals and Herut members, as well as Mapam and the Independent Liberals voted against the measure. The Religious Councils were a part of the religious systems established under the British Mandate and carried over into Israeli statehood.

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