Seeking to calm US, Israel says it is backing off controversial East Jerusalem housing project

Mediator calls for removal of Sephardic Chief Rabbi from religious court

Israel’s ombudsperson for justice is again calling for the possible impeachment of Sephardic Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef from Jerusalem’s Grand Rabbinical Appeal Court.

Former Supreme Court Justice Uri Shoham said this was due to Yosef’s organization of a rabbinate conference against government-pushed reforms that would remove the Orthodox monopoly on Kashrut certification and religious conversions, following a complaint by the Israeli Movement for Reform and Progressive Judaism. .

Shoham said the conference, which included rabbis from the state-run rabbinate, as well as municipal rabbis and rabbinical judges, violated ethical guidelines that prohibit officials from intervening in sensitive partisan matters.

In October 2020, Shoham asked the Rabbinical Judges Selection Committee to consider impeaching Yosef because of the controversial comments he made about women, Reform Judaism and the High Court of Justice, also in the wake of a complaint from the Israeli Movement for Reform and Progressive Judaism.

Israeli Sephardic Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef (center) writes part of a Torah scroll at the Dubai Jewish Community Center, December 19, 2020 (Courtesy Dubai Jewish Community Center / via JTA)

Yosef is the son of the late Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, the former spiritual leader of the Shas political party, who vowed to protect Yosef last year but is now part of the opposition in the Knesset.

Religious Affairs Minister Matan Kahana, who was criticized at the conference, nonetheless supports Yosef’s right to express himself freely.

Other religious and right-wing politicians have also spoken out against Shoham and in defense of Yosef.


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