Amar, Stern voted as Jerusalem chief rabbis

Sephardi and Ashkenazi candidates will hold positions that have been vacant for over 10 years

Rabbi Aryeh Stern  (Screen capture: Channel 2)
Rabbi Aryeh Stern (Screen capture: Channel 2)

National-religious rabbi Aryeh Stern and former chief rabbi of Israel Shlomo Amar were elected Tuesday as Jerusalem’s Ashkenazi and Sephardi Chief rabbis, respectively.

The elections end 11 years in which the capital went without a chief rabbi, since the deaths of the two previous Jerusalem chief rabbis in 2003.

The election results were announced following a vote by the 48-member electorate at the capital’s municipality Tuesday night.

Stern, who was backed by the nationalist Jewish Home party as well as Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, garnered 27 votes, placing ahead of ultra-Orthodox candidate Moshe Chaim Lau (backed by Shas, United Torah Judaism), who received 20 votes in total. Rabbi Yehoshua Zand was the third candidates for Ashkenazi chief rabbi.

Amar, backed by Shas, was chosen by 28 electorates to beat out Shmuel Eliyahu, the controversial, current chief rabbi of Safed, who collected 18 votes.

The other candidates for Sephardi chief rabbi were ex-Shas MK Haim Amsalem, and Rabbi Mordechai Toledano, the son-in-law of the late Rabbi Ovadiah Yosef, Rabbi Yehuda Chaik, and Rabbi Mordechai Malka.

Rabbi Shlomo Amar, January 2013. (photo credit: Uri Lenz/Flash90)
Rabbi Shlomo Amar, January 2013. (photo credit: Uri Lenz/Flash90)

“It is in my intention to serve as the rabbi of all Jerusalemites: secular, modern-orthodox and Haredi alike,” Stern said in a statement following his election.

“The Jerusalem rabbinate is a great merit, but it also comprises a hefty responsibility. I will make sure that the religious services will become accessible and friendly and will serve as an outstanding model for all of the other rabbinate in Israel.”

Marissa Newman and JTA contributed to this report.

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