National religious rabbis tap Meir Kahana to run for Israel’s Ashkenazi chief rabbi

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

A committee of national religious rabbis taps Meir Kahana, a rabbinical judge in Ashkelon, as its candidate to serve as the Ashkenazi chief rabbi of Israel.

The Makor Rishon newspaper describes Kahana’s selection as a “surprise.” It follows speculation that the national religious candidate would be Micha Halevi of Petah Tikva, who is widely seen as a hardliner to the right of Kahana.

Finance Minister Betzalel Smotrich, leader of the Religious Zionist Party, who is among the top political leaders of the national religious community, congratulates Kahana, whom Smotrich calls a candidate of “unity.”

Kahana, 54, has five children. He was born in Bat Yam and grew up in Bnei Brak. He is a former company commander in the IDF’s Paratroopers Brigade and holds the rank of lieutenant colonel in the reserves. His wife, Bruria, is a gynecologist.

The election of the Ashkenazi and Sephardic chief rabbis is scheduled to take place sometime after November 1.

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