Chief Rabbi David Lau on Monday called on the government to consult the country’s highest rabbinical body, the Chief Rabbinate, on every proposed bill, in order to obtain the religious and traditional Jewish view on the matters at hand.
Speaking at a conference of the Israel Bar Association in the southern resort town of Eilat, Lau asked newly installed Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked to implement his suggestion.
“The State of Israel is a Jewish and democratic state, and these are not contradictory terms,” Lau said at a panel that also featured Shaked. “Therefore, I call on the justice minister to establish that for every bill that the government submits, just as it seeks the professional opinion of relevant ministries on the matter, so too it should ask the of the Chief Rabbinate to present the Jewish and traditional position on the bill.”
Lau clarified that the rabbinate’s role would be “not to decide, but to give information, so that we will be conscious of the Jewish values of Hebrew law — so that we will be conscious of a Jewish bill for the Jewish state — and then the government can decide on it in a democratic way.”
The Chief Rabbinate has control over marriages, divorces, burials, kosher certifications and conversions in Israel but is not part of the legislative process in the country.
Shaked, who though not religious is a member of the Orthodox Jewish Home party, has already indicated that she wants to make profound changes to Israel’s legal system, and in particular the powers of the Supreme Court.
Speaking at the same conference, Shaked underscored her criticism of the Supreme Court and made clear that curtailing the power of the judiciary branch would be a top priority.
Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein, who also attended the conference, took a moment to apologize to Lau for any offense he may have caused by recently giving his opinion that restaurants that present themselves as kosher on the basis of private certifications rather than rabbinate-issued permits would not be fined, reversing a long standing policy.
“I hope that you are not angry with me over the position I took on the kashrut law,” Weinstein told Lau, according to a report on the Kikar Hashabat news site. “That was my position, and I am prepared to talk about it again and explain it.”