Fierce Backlash After Ombudsman Calls for Removal of Chief Rabbi

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Sephardi Chief Rabbi of Israel Yitzhak Yosef speaks during Shas Party's election rally at the Yazdim synagogue in Jerusalem on February 29, 2020. Photo by Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90

JERUSALEM (VINnews) — Former Supreme Court justice Uri Shoham, who serves as Israel’s Ombudsman for Judges, has called to oust Sephardi Chief Rabbi Yitzchak Yosef after a complaint was submitted against him by the Reform Center.

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The complaint centered around the opposition of Rabbi Yosef to the proposed Kashrus reform being promoted by Religious Affairs minister Matan Kahane. Rabbi Yosef also organized a meeting of dayanim and rabbis to fight the government proposal, an action which is forbidden to the chief rabbis by law.

Shoham wrote that due to the fact that the chief rabbi’s names appeared on the rally against the government move in violation of clause 18 in the ethical code of dayanim, which states “a dayan will not express in public a viewpoint on matters which are not related to law and which are currently publicly debated.”

Shoham added that “this matter should be clarified and dayanim should be warned not to take part in any rally,meeting or gathering of political nature which is a matter of public debate.”

Shoham also recommended that the minister “consider once again whether it is appropriate that Rabbi Yosef serve as a dayan in the Higher Rabbinical Court and at least should summon him to his bureau and reprimand him for his actions.”

A year ago Shoham made a similar recommendation due to Rabbi Yosef’s criticism of the reform movement and the Supreme Court.

MK Ben-Gvir responded, stating that “Uri Shham’s decision is a ‘demonstration of hypocrisy.’ When Supreme Court justice Meni Mazouz spoke out against Minister Amir Ohana, the Ombudsman said that ‘he ought not to say such things’ and rejected the complaints against Mazouz, but when the chief rabbi makes a statement on a halachic issue which is critical to the Jewish people, Shoham goes out of his way to try and silence, harm and take issue with him. What a disgrace.”


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