AJC Urges Israel's New Chief Rabbis to Embrace World Jewry

Jul 24, 2013, 16:58 ET from American Jewish Committee

NEW YORK, July 24, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Following today's elections of Israel's two chief rabbis, AJC reiterated its long-standing concerns about the institution of the Chief Rabbinate, its relevance to the State of Israel and world Jewry in the 21st century, and the urgent need for its reform.

(Logo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20100816/AJCLOGO)

Rabbi David Lau was elected Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi and Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef was chosen Sephardi chief rabbi. Both are sons of former chief rabbis. They will serve for ten years in their respective roles.

AJC, the global Jewish advocacy organization, has repeatedly expressed its concerns on key issues of Jewish peoplehood, including the office of the Chief Rabbi, which functions as the public face of Judaism in the Jewish State.

AJC has urged that the office be transformed into one of moral influence rather than coercive power. Of particular importance are the functioning of the chief rabbinate with respect to questions of personal status, particularly the human right of marriage and the process of conversion to Judaism, the respect due to the plural expressions of Judaism within the Jewish state, and the rights of women within Judaism. These questions affect the Jewish people worldwide.

As Rabbis Lau and Yosef assume their respective offices, we underscore the importance of the relationship of Israel to world Jewry and urge that the newly-elected chief rabbis recognize the intense interest of world Jewry in the resolution of these questions.   

Today's elections offered an opportunity to take a positive step towards transforming the office of Chief Rabbi to one more consonant with the humanistic values of the Jewish people. It is our fervent wish and hope that both Rabbis Lau and Yosef will enhance the dignity of the office, provide spiritual leadership, and service the needs of diverse Israeli constituencies.

SOURCE American Jewish Committee