Committee passes bill that allows the firing of rabbis

Committee passes bill that allows the firing of rabbis

Proposed law would enable Religious Affairs Ministry to oust city clergy who don't fulfill their roles

Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Deputy Defense Minister Eli Ben-Dahan. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Deputy Defense Minister Eli Ben-Dahan. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

A Knesset committee approved a bill that aims to give the religious affairs minister, or his deputy, the power to fire municipal rabbis who aren’t fulfilling their obligations as city clergy.

The bill, which was sponsored by Deputy Minister for Religious Affairs Eli Ben Dahan (Jewish Home) and Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of Israel David Lau, came before the Ministerial Committee for Legislation for consideration on Sunday. If passed, the new law will enable the minister to summon an unsatisfactory rabbi before a specially convened inquiry tribunal to investigate claims of lax performance in his duties.

Under the current law, once appointed city rabbis can keep their jobs until they decide to retire without the need for periodic reappointment, even though they are considered public servants, Maariv reported. The bill aims to combat the phenomenon of rabbis who either don’t adequately fulfill their job function, or are not active at all.

After conferring with the resident of the Chief Rabbinate Council, the religious affairs minister could form a committee that would include a city rabbi and a ministerial legal adviser, and would be chaired by a rabbinical court judge, who would then summon the rabbi in question to explain himself. Should the committee determine that the rabbi had indeed failed in his duties, it could then advise the religious affairs minister to fire the offending cleric.

Religious Affairs Minister Naftali Bennett has spearheaded a drive to bring major changes in the way the rabbinate authorities operate in Israel. Last week, Bennett announced plans for a significant shake-up in kosher certification methods including a new three-star classification system and a change in payment methods. In January the legislation committee approved a bill sponsored by Bennett to unite Israel’s two chief rabbis, the Ashkenazi and the Sephardic, into just one position.

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