The Jerusalem Post reports:
The rabbinic court system must offer alternate judicial services not under the auspices of the haredi establishment, Efrat Chief Rabbi Shlomo Riskin said Thursday in response to the appointment Tuesday of 15 new judges to the rabbinic courts, 12 of whom were haredi.
"After this week's selection of an inordinate number of haredi judges, many of whose chief qualifications were family relationships, I call for an alternative court of religious-Zionist, modern Orthodox judges who will include love of Israel together with concern for the purity of Israel and will express the principle of 'for the sake of preventing agunot. [women trapped in a marriage by Jewish law] our law finds leniencies,'" Riskin told a conference dealing with the Israeli constitution in Jerusalem on Thursday.
"The situation is horrific," Riskin told The Jerusalem Post Thursday regarding the problems rabbinic court judges face, including the fate of agunot and conversions for the hundreds of thousands of non-Jewish olim in Israel.
"The question is what you are mostly concerned about," he maintained. "Are you mostly concerned about the purity of Israel, afraid of a forced get [divorce certificate given by the husband] that may not be legitimate? Or are you equally concerned about the aguna herself, who is being held up by a husband with an unfair advantage in Jewish law?"
The problem, Riskin believes, is not one of halacha. "The Talmud again and again gives all sorts of leniencies to help women in such a situation," he noted, "but most judges do not implement those leniencies. Very often they don't have the psychological sympathies [needed to do so]. It's a parallel situation with conversion, where very often the judges insist on a haredi - not merely religious - lifestyle [for the aspiring convert]. These are roadblocks at a time when there shouldn't be roadblocks."
Riskin has begun gathering together a group of supportive religious-Zionist rabbis to ask Israel's Chief Rabbinate to recognize a separate religious-Zionist rabbinic court system, as was done in the past with the haredi Badatz system.
If the Chief Rabbinate, loyal to haredi leaders Rabbi Ovadia Yosef and Rabbi Yosef Elyashiv, refuses to sanction the new court system, Riskin said he would "very likely" turn to the High Court of Justice. "But I don't want to think about that," he emphasized, confident that the Chief Rabbinate and the official courts will agree to sanction the new court system.…
The article goes on to cite an expert who believes the Rabbinut will fight Rabbi Riskin tooth and nail to prevent new courts from forming, because their haredi backers – Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv and Rabbi Ovadia Yosef – will not cede power to Modern Orthodoxy, no matter how just MO's cause is.
Personally, I think this is a case of too little, too late. The MO-NRP world wasted its time on land and expanding Jewish 'control' over the West Bank and Gaza. While it did so, haredim hijacked the apparatus of state religion, making life worse for everyone but, perhaps, a few haredim themselves. And, at the same time, secular Israelis and the Israeli center – made up mostly of traditional Jews who at one time valued rabbis and Orthodoxy, if not as a daily way of life then as an ideal – have moved farther away from religion and have increasingly hostile views of Orthodoxy and of rabbis.
Both Netanyahu and Olmert need the haredim to have a chance of forming a government in the next election. Therefore, neither will risk alienating haredi leadership. This means a new MO-NRP religious court system is dead in the water. It also means MO-NRP leadership has again failed, and that is no surprise – they have consistently failed most every test for last 40 years.
Interestingly, YeshivaWorld had this headline over its coverage of the election of rabbinic judges:
Israeli Government appoints 12 new Frum judges [emphasis added]
The headline has been up for more than two days and, despite complaints, YW has not corrected the headline. What's to correct? Fifteen rabbinic judges were appointed. Twelve are haredim. The other three? Modern Orthodox-National Religious. YeshivaWorld is calling those three judges not frum, not religious. His defense? He claims only to have known this, which is the body of his post:
A government committee appointed 15 new dayanim on Monday, including 12 Chareidim, sparking protests by modern Orthodox rabbis and women’s advocacy groups, who said the government and Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann are sacrificing the interests of thousands of agunos - women who have been refused a Jewish divorce - for political reasons. (Jpost)
In other words, no defense. And in more than two days, he has not corrected the headline.
Do haredim respect Modern Orthodoxy and Modern Orthodox rabbis? No they do not, despite what certain MO rabbis – like Hershel Schachter – may lead you to believe. (And this has its impact, as you can see here.)
[Please click the image to enlarge.]