Just When You Thought There Could Not Possibly Be Another Mess!

Just When You Thought There Could Not Possibly Be Another Mess!

Gilbert N. Kahn is a professor of Political Science at Kean University.

Reports emerged on Sunday that the new Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi David Lau cheated when he took his final examinations prior to being ordained as Rabbi in 1993. As reported in the Jerusalem Post he walked into the exams with questions and answers from previous exams, thus violating the rules not to bring into the exam room any reference materials. As a result he was disqualified from taking the exams. He did pass them in 1994 after which he was ordained.

Apparently Channel 2 television had received a report about Rabbi Lau’s first disqualification just prior to the recent chief rabbi election, but had not corroborated it sufficiently to run the story at the time. They, therefore, only released the report now.

The recent chief rabbi election in Israel had generated extensive coverage and political concern because of the religious orientations of the rabbis and their impact on matters of personal status for all Jews in Israel. This serious ethical breach by the incoming Chief Rabbi only adds fuel to the disdain that many—especially among the non-haredi community—in Israel and the Diaspora have for the institution of the Chief Rabbinate.  It would have been nice to have assumed that aspiring rabbis would be especially scrupulous about their ethical behavior.  Sadly, that does not seem to have been the case with Rabbi Lau. 

This new episode is a highly charged politically matter with significant spillover especially within the current Government which is trying to pressure the haredim; specifically because Netanyahu had supported Lau’s candidacy.  It will also spur the movement in some circles finally to create a separation of religion and state in Israel.

Unlike last week's post about Chief Rabbi Lau, this time is was not even bad humor but facts!

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