Israel’s new chief rabbis were sworn in on Wednesday at a ceremony held at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem, where they promised to be faithful to the people.
Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi David Lau and Sephardi Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef pledged their duty in front of President Shimon Peres. The rabbis were selected last month in a complex and opaque process by a committee made up of 150 rabbis, mayors, religious functionaries, and government appointees.
“We expect and hope that in the coming 10 years we will indeed have the ability to give Torah instruction, to enlighten with the light of the Torah, and be the mouth and ear for each and every person living in the country,” Lau said.
Both candidates are seen as mainstream figures unlikely to rock the boat. Lau beat out Rabbi David Stav, a relative free thinker with goals of pushing Israel’s rabbinate into the 21st century, and Yosef won against Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, a hardliner supported by the national religious.