• By The Financial District

Ombudsman: Israel's Anti-Reform Chief Rabbi Must Be Punished

Judicial ombudsman Uri Shoham recommended on Thursday dismissing Sephardi Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef from his position on Israel's Great Rabbinical Court over his public opposition to proposed kashrut Jewish conversion reforms, Aaron Rabinowitz reported for the Israeli daily Haaretz.

Photo Insert: Chief Rabbi of Israel Yitzhak Yosef

Yosef, who serves as a rabbinical judge, was involved in organizing a conference for his fellow judges at which he and others spoke against the reforms being advanced by Kahana.

After the conference, the rabbi issued a statement saying that he "utterly rejects the Religious Services Ministry’s dangerous initiatives to destroy kashrut and Judaism in Israel.”

After the statement was released, the Reform Movement’s Israel Religious Action Center complained to the ombudsman, arguing the chief rabbi and other rabbinical judges – all of whom are civil servants – had spoken out on controversial political issues, in violation of the code of ethics of their position.

Shoham contacted the ostensible signatories to Yosef's statement, who said that they did not give their permission to publish their signatures, and deferred the responsibility to Yosef's office. The chief rabbi declined to respond to the ombudsman's questions.

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“The material before us indicates that people in [Yosef's] office are the ones who invited the rabbinic judges to participate in the aforementioned conference, at which publicly controversial issues were discussed, and he even publicly stated positions that assailed the reforms that are being promoted by the religious services minister and the Israeli government," Shoham said.

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