The Top Five Mizrachi Rabbis In Israel

What is Mizrachi? It is religious Zionism.

Rav Mordecai Eliyahu would have to be number one. Then Haim Drukman, Yaakov Ariel, Aharon Lichtenstein, She’ar Yashuv Cohen (the Rav of Haifa and the son of the Nazir of Jerusalem David Cohen), and maybe Nachum Rubinstein (sp?).

They’re not in the United States much because they don’t need to raise money here. The rabbis of the top Haredi yeshivot in Israel spend a lot of time in the United States because they need to raise millions of dollars here.

Post high-school students in Israel who enroll in Modern Orthodox yeshivas don’t stay longer than five years once they marry. If they stay five years, they get semicha (rabbinic ordination) and go out to work. Most married students stay only one year before going into a profession.

That enables Modern Orthodox yeshivas to get much of their income from their graduates.

Haredi yeshiva students usually don’t go on to work. They just study. Their roshei yeshiva have to raise 100% of their budgets, so they spend a lot of time in the United States.

Modern Orthodox hesder yeshivas also get money from the government. They provide the IDF with many of their elite combat units.

These leading mizrahi rabbis may only need to raise some small sum such as $250,00 a year from American sources. Their haredi peers — such as the head of the Mir yeshiva — will need to raise something like $20 million per annum.

Matthew Wagner writes for the Jerusalem Post:

A group of religious Zionist rabbis are calling to privatize the marriage registration process to stop what they call the Chief Rabbinate’s inefficient, unfriendly and overly stringent bureaucracy from turning off secular Israelis to religion.

However, a senior member of the Chief Rabbinate said he and others would oppose any attempts to change the way marriage registration was performed.

The rabbinic standoff pits religious Zionists against a more haredi spiritual leadership that has been gaining power within the Chief Rabbinate in recent decades.

Tzohar Rabbis, a modern Orthodox rabbinical organization, warned Wednesday that if the religious marriage process were not made more user-friendly, pressure would mount to institute civil marriages in Israel for the first time in its 61-year history.

"If, heaven forbid, there are civil marriages in Israel, God will know to blame petty religious functionaries who care only about their own jobs," said Tzohar chairman Rabbi David Stav in a telephone interview Wednesday, referring to the dozens of clerks currently employed at local rabbinates across the country who are responsible for helping couples register for marriage.

"These people [at the local rabbinates] would sooner fight a holy organization working to bring Jews closer to their tradition than to help make it easier for Jews, secular and religious, to get married," he said.

Tzohar wants to break the monopoly of local rabbis over marriage registration and open it up to competition. Currently a man and woman who want to marry must register with the rabbi of the city in which one of the two lives. Tzohar wants to change the directives so a couple would be able to register with any rabbi in the country who is recognized by the Chief Rabbinate.

This would open the way for rabbis who belong to Tzohar, several of whom are chief rabbis of cities – such as Rabbi Ya’acov Ariel of Ramat Gan and Rabbi Gideon Perl of the Gush Etzion Region – to register couples who live outside their jurisdiction.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see My work has been covered in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and on 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (
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