On the eve of elections for the Israeli chief rabbinate one of the more prominent candidates, Rabbi David Stav told The Algemeiner that he believes he has what it takes to heal the growing rift in Israeli society between secular and orthodox Jews.
“I really believe that in this historic moment in Israel’s history we actually have two choices,” he declared, “We can tear Israeli society to pieces. There will be one Haredi (Ultra-Orthodox) piece, and the rest of the people, or we can make all efforts in order to insist on having ourselves as one united nation.”
Sharply criticized by the Ultra-Orthodox for what they describe as a liberal lean in how they say he would administer Jewish law as chief rabbi, Stav maintains that he brings a revolution that is more in style then in Halachic (Jewish legal) substance. “I believe that we, me and my friends, have the way to expose Israeli society to Jewish tradition and to Jewish heritage without causing anti-religious and other reactions that bring Israeli society to kind of a hatred of Jewish tradition,” Stav said, citing the work of his organization, Tzohar, that strives to provide “strictly Halachic” weddings while showing sensitivity to the “unique needs,” of couples and their families.
The rabbi points to the hugely successful Jewish outreach group Chabad as an example of how strong Jewish traditions can be maintained without alienating more liberal constituents. “I think that Tzohar and Chabad share a lot in common,” he says.
“Actually, one of my friends wrote an article last Friday saying that our dream is to make all local rabbinates and all local offices of the religious councils as kind of branches of Chabad, meaning we want to make these places into embracing places, people that will come there will feel welcome,” he said.
But, he insists, on the key issues that the rabbinate is tasked with administering, he will stay true to the letter of the law. “I believe that the (Lubavitcher) Rebbe’s demand that insisted on the acceptance of Torah and mitzvot as a condition for being a part of the Jewish nation, of converting, is accepted by me,” Stav said, adding, “there will be no change in the Halachic demands of the convert, no change whatsoever.”
Stav is popular in Israel among the modern Orthodox, and describes himself as coming from the “religious Zionist stream.” His opponents however claim that his willingness to embrace those with a lesser commitment to orthodox Judaism may lead to a bending of the strict Judaic laws on conversion, marriage and Jewish life that are maintained by the Jewish state’s chief rabbinate.
When the lines of politics and morality meet Stav says that he would be willing to speak out, even on controversial issues.
“I believe that the Chief Rabbi has to be involved as long as he feels that he serves a moral issue that relates to the Jewish existence in the State of Israel. If there is harm, damage, that is caused to certain people because of political issues, …read more
Source: The Algemeiner