By Steven Beck
For the first time in Israel’s history, a woman can apply for the position of Knesset Rabbi.
Several months ago, the Knesset published a tender for the position of Knesset Rabbi to replace the current rabbi who will be retiring in a few months. The tender required applicants to present a certificate from the Chief Rabbinate, a provision that excluded women from applying as they are barred from completing the Rabbinate’s certification exams.
The Israel Religious Action Center (IRAC) complained directly to the Knesset Director-General and Legal Advisor Albert Sacharovich, claiming that the tender was discriminatory towards women. Last week, IRAC Attorney Riki Shapira-Rosenberg heard back that the tender was indeed discriminatory and would be withdrawn. The Knesset later republished the tender, amending the requirements to a bachelor’s degree from an academic institution and a kashrut supervision certificate from the Chief Rabbinate, opening the door for women to apply for the position of Knesset Rabbi.
In response to this significant change by the Knesset, Shapira-Rosenberg said: “This is a breakthrough heralding the opening of additional rabbinic and halachic positions becoming available to women.”