Chief Rabbi Yosef suspected of criminal violation

Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef has summoned and met with several rabbis in recent weeks to ask them not to run for a place on the Chief Rabbinate Council, an action that could constitute interference in an election to a state body and possibly constitute a criminal violation.

In addition, Yosef met with members of the 150-person electoral committee which elects the council of Chief Rabbi of Nesher, Yitzhak Levi, a close associate and pupil of Yosef’s, another action which violates established ethics regulations for judges and rabbinical judges.

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The chief rabbi lobbied the members of the committee not only for the election of Levi, but also for a list of candidates, all of whom are currently serving and who Bayit Yehudi, Shas and United Torah Judaism parties have agreed should be reelected to the council, activity which similarly violates ethics regulations.

Elections for the Chief Rabbinate Council are scheduled for September 5.

The council is the executive arm of the Chief Rabbinate and is empowered to make critical decisions regarding Jewish life in Israel over major issues pertaining to marriage and divorce, kashrut, and other key concerns.

It comprises 17 members, 10 of whom are elected every five years. The other seven serve because of their respective important positions, including the two chief rabbis, the IDF chief rabbi and the municipal chief rabbis of Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Haifa and Beersheba.

The 10 elected members are selected by a 150-member electoral committee, each of whom votes for five Sephardi candidates and five Ashkenazi candidates.

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The committee comprises 80 rabbis and 70 public representatives who are selected in various ways.

The Movement for Fairness in Government, a good-governance NGO, filed a complaint this week to the Attorney-General’s Office, alleging that Yosef requested from at least three prominent rabbis not to run in the election.

The Jerusalem Post confirmed with one of these rabbis, who requested not to be named, that he had indeed been summoned to the offices of Chief Rabbi Yosef for the purposes of entreating him to withdraw his candidacy.

In addition, a municipal chief rabbi and member of the electoral committee for the Chief Rabbinate Council, who wished to remain anonymous, confirmed to the Post that he had met with Yosef privately at the chief rabbi’s request during a rabbinical conference in Kibbutz Lavi this week, where the chief rabbi made clear that he would like the committee member to vote for Rabbi Yitzhak Levi of Nesher.

The committee member said that Yosef had met privately with numerous other members of the electoral committee at the conference to make similar requests, and had also distributed copies of one of his books to the rabbis he met with there.

Several other sources also reported that Yosef held a series of private meetings with numerous rabbis at the conference, including members of the electoral committee, and that he had distributed copies of his book there.

YOSEF HAS already been upbraided for his interference in rabbinical elections in favor of Rabbi Yitzhak Levi. Levi is just 38 years old, and was elected as municipal chief rabbi of Nesher in 2017.

The elections were a dead heat with another candidate, and Yosef then summoned all the members of that electoral committee to private meetings with him to ask them to vote for Levi in the second round. Levi was subsequently elected chief rabbi of Nesher.

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