The Sceptic Blog

Random thoughts of a random chappy

How Many Chief Rabbis Does it Take to Light a Candle?

with 2 comments

1.  I was at the Chanukiah lighting at the Kotel this evening, and very moving it was too – but one aspect of it brought to the front of my mind a thought that has been lurking undiscovered in the background for some time.

2.  The Sephardi Chief Rabbi lit the Chanukiah and then spoke, very appropriately and movingly.  And when he had finished we were all ready for a bit of dancing.  But, of course, we had to have another Chief Rabbi first, for the Ashkenazim.  There was nothing in particular for him to add – and the atmosphere was only dampened by his contribution.  Then the Minister for Education felt the need to point out at some length that he wasn’t planning to give the Kotel back to anyone, which presumably nobody in particular had been expecting him to do today anyway.  And then in order to dissipate any remaining fragments of atmosphere, some other random blighter said it all over again.

3.  Then we would have danced, but almost everyone had gone home (including the musician!)

4. Although it wouldn’t have dealt with the Minister and the random blighter, it would have been a much better start to have just the one Chief Rabbi.  And it does ring a little hollow to have them standing there going on about the indissoluble unity of the Jewish people when there are two of them!

5.  The Chief Rabbi is not a position that requires sectarian loyalty; indeed, it should be above it.  Nor is there any good reason I can think of why we couldn’t have just one Chief Rabbi of Israel.  For halachic matters where there are differences between ashkenazi and sephardi attitudes, he could take advice, as they must have to anyway where there are other variant minhagim.   And he could then talk about Jewish unity as if we (as well as he) meant it.

6.  The only possible argument I can think of against having a single Chief Rabbi is that the position is more about politics, influence and control of budgets than it is about religion; and that must be too cynical to be true, mustn’t it?!

7.  Happy Chanukah – and roll on a genuinely united Jewish people.


Written by Daniel Greenberg

December 20, 2011 at 8:46 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

2 Responses

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  1. The chief rabbi and the kotel. One the remnant of a great and holy institution that reduces one to tears and the other…

    PS Welcome back to the holy land.


    December 21, 2011 at 8:28 am

  2. Good to see that Mr Blogmaster has some time to put his thoughts on keyboard when he is away from the festive rush in thge UK! And here is Mr Secretary right on the ball with a thought. You think, rightly or wrongly, that Israel needs only one Chief Rabbi. It appears that the UK is going to find it difficult to find a suitable replacement for Lord Rabbi Dr Sacks. Why does Israel not sell one of its Chief Rabbis to the UK, which will a. give you some satisfaction b. make some money for Israel c,.solve the problem in the UK. With best wishes for s “Chag Urim Sameach”..

    Mr Secretary

    December 21, 2011 at 7:13 pm

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