David Stav tells Israel Hayom in exclusive interview: There is great estrangement and growing hatred toward everything having to do with Judaism as a result of the bureaucracy imposed by the Chief Rabbinate.
Rabbi David Stav.
Photo credit: Dudi Vaaknin
Rabbi David Stav, director of the Modern Orthodox rabbinic organization Tzohar and municipal rabbi in Shoham, posted a YouTube video on Wednesday announcing his plan to run for the position of chief rabbi of the State of Israel.
Other candidates for the position include Rabbis David Lau of Modiin, Yaakov Shapira and Eliezer Igra. Stav clarified that, if selected, he would gradually retire from his duties as head of Tzohar.
Elections for the chief rabbi position will take place in June, having been postponed due to the Jan. 22 parliamentary elections.
"We realized that we are directly facing a threat to the very essence of Jews here in this country," Stav said. "Each year, more and more young Israelis tell us that without Tzohar, they would choose, God forbid, to completely pass up the chuppah and the [Jewish] marriage ceremony. Instead, they would have gotten married in [a civil ceremony in] Cyprus or by an attorney."
This issue is one of Stav's main motivations for entering the race for chief rabbi. He argues that the main reason that the secular majority in Israel recoils from Jewish wedding ceremonies is the insulting treatment and hardships imposed by the Chief Rabbinate, as well as the fear of having to go through the rabbinate in the event of a divorce.
"The bad feeling we had in our hearts was confirmed by the Central Bureau of Statistics, which found that a third of secular Israelis currently choose to marry abroad or in civil ceremonies, anywhere but the rabbinate,” Stav said.
“When they decide to marry, can we just see them as Jews? Regardless of previous generations? God forbid we get to a point where they feel rejected, even if they do want to marry in a Jewish ceremony, and join the hundreds of thousands of Israelis who already have no religious affiliation, or the millions of non-Jews who live among us. If we do, within a decade or two we will involuntarily be divided into two peoples: one comprised of religious Jews and the other of Israeli non-Jews."
In an interview to be published Friday in Israel Hayom's weekend magazine, Stav says, "There is a sense of urgency. We are at a dangerous crossroads. There is great estrangement and growing hatred toward everything having to do with Judaism as a result of the bureaucratic problems people face when they require religious services, such as marriage, divorce, burial, and more. The system needs to change its outlook and not view every secular person seeking to get married as a goy [non-Jew]."
In the interview, Stav also says the rabbinate is today almost completely controlled by Lithuanian ultra-Orthodoxy.
"The haredi world has not believed in the rabbinate since its founding. In the last 20 years, however, the haredi political activists have discovered rabbinate jobs," he said.