Peres swears in Israel’s new chief rabbis

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel’s newly elected chief rabbis were sworn in by Israeli President Shimon Peres at a ceremony in Jerusalem.

The ceremony for Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi David Lau and Sephardi Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef was held Wednesday at the President’s Residence.

“We expect and hope that in the coming 10 years we will indeed have the ability to give Torah instruction, to enlighten with the light of the Torah, and be the mouth and ear for each and every person living in the country,” Lau said, the Times of Israel reported.

The outgoing chief rabbis, Rabbi Shlomo Amar and Rabbi Yona Metzger, were not invited to the ceremony, according to Israel National News. Senior government officials were among those in attendance.

“The people of Israel raise their eyes to you, to be reminded of what lies within them, in their past and future,” Peres told the new chief rabbis. “The nation prays for a respected, esteemed Rabbinate that will bring back the spirit of greatness, and eternal values, to daily life. Know how to bring people closer, how to respect differences and how to hold the Ten Commandments up high.

Peres added, “You have the great privilege of bringing together brothers who are religious and irreligious, of bringing down barriers of suspicion and division.”