(Feb. 12, 2014) Chief rabbis are most important. They have power. They impose customs and rituals. They enforce them. They alone decide whoâ€™s a Jew and whoâ€™s not.
They determine whoâ€™s married, whoâ€™s divorced, who may marry, who may not, and who may marry whom.
They decide which children are legitimate and which arenâ€™t. They have enormous influence over Israeli policy.
A civil judge â€œsolemnly promise(s) to be loyal to the State of Israel and its laws.â€ A rabbinic judge pledges only â€œto be loyal to the State of Israel.â€
Israel has two chief rabbis. Ashkenazi and Sephardi ones. Theyâ€™re elected to 10-year terms.
Israelâ€™s Chief Rabbinate Council assists them. They alternate as presidents of Israelâ€™s Rabbinical Supreme Court.
Itâ€™s the religious equivalent to Israelâ€™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.