Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Memorial Day for Israel's Chief Rabbis
by Hillel Fendel

( The Ministerial Committee for Symbols and Ceremonies has decided to set a national memorial day for deceased Chief Rabbis.

The idea was that of incumbent Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger. Rabbi Metzger proposed the idea of an annual memorial day to Committee Chairman Yaakov Edry (Kadima), who also serves as Minister of Absorption.

No date for the memorial day has yet been chosen.

In a letter to Rabbi Metzger, Minister Edry wrote that the committee had decided to establish the day "in recognition of the importance and special status of the Chief Rabbis as spiritual leaders of the Jewish People." Rabbi Metzger responded that the new memorial day will be an "excellent opportunity to tighten the natural bonds between official Israel and the Torah and Jewish tradition," as well as a way to "show appreciation for all rabbis and their dedication on behalf of their congregations."

Chief Rabbis, Past and Present
The State of Israel has had five pairs of Ashkenazi and Sephardic Chief Rabbis - in addition to Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Kook and Yaakov Meir, who were elected in 1921 to fill the newly-created post of Chief Rabbis of the British Mandate of Palestine.

Israel's Ashkenazi Chief Rabbis prior to Rabbi Metzger have been Rabbis Yitzchak HaLevi Herzog, Isser Yehuda Unterman, Shlomo Goren (all deceased), Avraham Shapira, and Yisrael Meir Lau.

The position of Israel's Chief Sephardic Rabbi, known as the Rishon LeTzion, has been filled by Rabbis Ben-Zion Meir Chai Uziel, Yitzchak Nissim (both deceased), Ovadiah Yosef, Mordechai Eliyahu, and Eliyahu Bakshi-Doron. Rabbi Shlomo Amar currently fills the post.

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