Israel: controversy over sons of rabbis elected chief rabbis

They are David Lau and Yitzhak Yossef

25 July, 11:26

    (ANSAmed) - JERUSALEM, JULY 25 - After a heated electoral campaign, a gathering of 150 Jewish religious and political leaders elected two new chief rabbies who will lead the country's influential religious establishment for the next ten years.

    The Sephardic communities - originally from Arab countries - will have as leader the radical Yitzhak Yossef, 61, son of the 90-year-old ex rabbi chief and supreme leader of the religious Shas Ovadia Yossef party.

    The Ashkenazi Jews - from Eastern Europe and part of the West - will be led by David Lau, 47, son of Meir Israel Lau, also a former chief rabbi and a Shoah survivor and president of the memorial Yad Vashem museum. Both won with 68 out of 147 votes.

    The first reports noted that they are both supported by Orthodox Jews and that their success is a burning defeat for candidates close to nationalist-religious settlers. In particular, the defeat of controversial rabbi Shmuel Eliahu was significant. The rabbi has made some extremely strong statements against Arabs.

    In his first statements after being elected, rabbi Lau said he wasn't only close to Orthodox Jews but also to secularists and said he would work on a more open Rabbinate so it can gain back the prestige it has lost in the past few years, according to some observers.

    Chief rabbis in Israel are very influential in the daily lives of citizens - in marriages (in a country where civil marriages don't exist), divorces, funerals, conversions, the supervision of Kosher food and, in general, the management of rabbinical courts. (ANSAmed)
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