Knesset bill would eliminate one chief rabbi post

JERUSALEM (JTA) — A Knesset committee advanced a bill that would reduce the number of chief rabbi positions to one from two.

The Knesset Ministerial Committee for Legislation voted Sunday to approve the legislation, which was proposed by Justice Minister Tzipi Livni of the Hatnua party, and co-sponsored by Religious Affairs Minister Naftali Bennett and lawmaker Eli Ben-Dahan of the Jewish Home party.

The bill was moved to the Cabinet, which would send it to the full Knesset for consideration. It would take effect following the expiration of the 10-year terms of the current chief rabbis — Rabbi David Lau (Ashkenazi) and Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef (Sephardi).

“In a state where there is only one president, one Supreme Court president, one prime minister and one chief of general staff, there is no way to justify the doubling of the position of chief rabbi,” Livni said. “We have to rid ourselves of the old-fashioned division of ancestral congregations and start bringing the country together.”

The measure also makes the rabbinical courts independent of the office of the Chief Rabbinate rather than the current situation in which the two chief rabbis alternate serving as the head of the Rabbinate Council and as chief religious court judge of the Higher Rabbinical Court.

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