(Feb. 12, 2014) Chief rabbis are most important. They have power. They impose customs and rituals. They enforce them. They alone decide who’s a Jew and who’s not.
They determine who’s married, who’s divorced, who may marry, who may not, and who may marry whom.
They decide which children are legitimate and which aren’t. They have enormous influence over Israeli policy.
A civil judge “solemnly promise(s) to be loyal to the State of Israel and its laws.” A rabbinic judge pledges only “to be loyal to the State of Israel.”
Israel has two chief rabbis. Ashkenazi and Sephardi ones. They’re elected to 10-year terms.
Israel’s Chief Rabbinate Council assists them. They alternate as presidents of Israel’s Rabbinical Supreme Court.
It’s the religious equivalent to Israel’s High Court of Justice. They serve five years each. They switch to head the Chief Rabbinate Council.
David Lau is Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi. Yiszhak Yosef is his Sephardi counterpart.