Israeli chief rabbi slams Riskin over ‘innovations’

Marcy Oster

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel’s chief Sephardi rabbi slammed Rabbi Shlomo Riskin, the chief rabbi of Efrat, for his liberal “innovations.”

Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef made the comments Saturday night during his weekly sermon, excerpts of which were posted on the haredi Orthodox news website Kikar Shabbat.

“Every morning we say the blessing [being thankful that God] ‘didn’t make me a woman,’ not like that one from Efrat, who makes all kind of innovations, who says we shouldn’t say that blessing, that women and men have equal rights … this doesn’t hurt women. He doesn’t understand,” Yosef said. He accused Riskin of “making a new war.”

Riskin recently appointed a woman, Jennie Rosenfeld, to serve as a religious leader in Efrat, giving her the title “manhiga ruchanit,” or spiritual adviser. He has also come under fire from the Chief Rabbinate for his views on reforming the conversion process in Israel, supporting a government directive that would allow municipal chief rabbis to form conversion courts rather than requiring potential converts to appear before four Chief Rabbinate-led courts.

ADVERTISEMENT

Late last month, the Chief Rabbinate declined to automatically renew Riskin’s appointment as Efrat’s chief rabbi and summoned him for a hearing on the matter on June 29. Riskin has been the chief rabbi of Efrat since 1983, when he helped found the settlement located in the Gush Etzion bloc of the West Bank.