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Why Israel must end chief rabbi’s monopoly on Judaism

The State of Israel must put a stop to the monopoly held by the Chief Rabbi on deciding who is Jewish, who can marry who and who can immigrate to the country.
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Israel has been in an uproar for several days now, after remarks made by Sephardic Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef at a meeting with rabbis about to be sent as emissaries to the Diaspora. While his comments were made off the record, one of the rabbis who was in attendance was so startled by them that he decided to report the remarks to the media on Jan. 7.

As was the custom with his late father, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, Yitzhak Yosef also addressed his audience as if he was some ultra-Orthodox Archie Bunker, speaking his mind at his family’s Sabbath table. His main message was his “discovery” of a conspiracy through which the secular establishment brought masses of immigrants from the former Soviet Union to Israel, so that their votes would cancel out the votes of the religious community. As he said in his own rambling language, “There are many, many non-Jews here, some of them communists, hostile to religion, haters of religion. They are not Jews at all, gentiles. Then they vote for parties that incite against the ultra-Orthodox and against religion.” He added that some of these immigrants, “go to church every Sunday. They go to the monastery.”

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