Citing nepotism concerns, High Court of Justice halts rabbinical court appointments

Cnaan Lidor is The Times of Israel's Jewish World reporter

The High Court of Justice issues an injunction halting the appointment of rabbinical judges following allegations of nepotism.

The ruling relates to the work of the appointments committee to the Great Court in Jerusalem and 12 regional rabbinical courts in a petition by Batya Kahana-Dror‎, a lawyer and fellow at the Shalom Hartman Institute.

The petition notes that the appointments committee — part of the Chief Rabbinate, which is co-headed by Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi David Lau — is reviewing the nomination of two candidates related to Lau: Rabbi Mordechai Ralbag to the Jerusalem rabbinical court and Yehuda Mann to head another rabbinical court.

Lau is a member of the appointments committee, presenting a potential conflict of interest, the court says.

The Chief Rabbinate, represented by the state, has one month to reply to the allegations.

Another candidate is Avraham Deri, a nephew of Shas leader Aryeh Deri and the son of the chief rabbi of Beersheba, Yehuda Deri.

Neither Aryeh Deri nor Yehuda Deri is a member of the appointments committee but they enjoy considerable influence on its members, Haaretz notes.

The Lau, Deri, Ralbag and Yosef families “behave as though the rabbinical courts are their own fiefdom, to the detriment of citizens of Israel who require the services of the rabbinical court by law,” writes Kahana-Dror in her petition.

The Chief Rabbinate does not immediately reply to a request for comment.

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