Contract of Ethiopian chief rabbi in Israel to be extended

Marcy Oster

JERUSALEM (JTA) —   Israel’s Religious Affairs Ministry said it would extend the contract of the chief rabbi of Israel’s Ethiopian community by six months, a day after reports that it would force him into retirement.

Religious Affairs Ministry CEO Oded Fluss wrote to Rabbi Yosef Hadane telling him that his tenure in the position had been extended until February at the request of Religious Affairs Minister David Azoulay, Army Radio reported Tuesday. Hadane’s contract had been set to expire at the end of July.

The extension is to ensure uninterrupted service to the Ethiopian community, Fluss reportedly wrote.

Army Radio first reported on Monday, citing unnamed senior officials in the Religious Affairs Ministry, that the decision not to extend Hadane’s service came in response to his criticism of racial discrimination by the Chief Rabbinate against Jewish Ethiopians, in particular his protest of the difficulty that Israelis of Ethiopian descent have registering for marriage in Petah Tikvah.

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Hadane will be 67, the mandatory retirement age, next month. However, other rabbis have been granted automatic extensions once they reach retirement age.

His forced retirement reportedly was announced by the ministry without first discussing it with him, according to Army Radio. He has served in the position for three decades.

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