The Race for the Rishon le-Tzion
Elections for the office of the Chief Rabbi of Israel have a colorful history that is filled with politics through and through. For a number of years it was customary to reelect the incumbent Chief Rabbi when elections for the Chief Rabbi were conducted. However, in 1972 Rabbi Ovadiah Yosef ran against the incumbent Chief Sephardic (Rishon le-Tzion) Rabbi Yitzhak Nissim and won. It was during Yosef’s tenure as Chief Sephardic Rabbi that a law was passed that limited Chief Rabbis to one term of ten years. Guess who was one of the bill’s sponsors? Moshe Nissim, the son of Rabbi Yitzhak Nissim.
Fast forward to the present day, next year elections are going to be held for the office of Chief Rabbi. According to today’s Maariv, guess who is planning to run for Chief Sephardic Rabbi? Rabbi Yehudah Deri, the current Chief Rabbi of Beer Sheva and brother of ex-con and former Shas powerbroker, Aryeh Deri. For those interested in the rise and fall of Aryeh Deeri, a new book has recently been published that shows how deep the Deri-induced corruption was in Israeli politics during the 1980’s and 90’s (see here and here [Heb.]). To top it all, guess what law the current Sephardic Chief Rabbi Amar’s supporters are trying to get approved? One that removes the term limit for Chief Rabbis.
As if anyone today really cares what either of the Chief Rabbis has to say.