Forces in the Chief Rabbinate may be working to oust Rabbi Shlomo Riskin from his post as Chief Rabbi of Efrat, Haaretz reported Monday.
At a meeting of the Chief Rabbinate Council, the group was unwilling to extended Riskin's tenure in the post and called for the Rabbi to present himself at the council's next meeting for discussion.
While the Chief Rabbinate says this issue is purely technical – as a Chief Rabbi over 75, Riskin is required to submit a written request to be reappointed, which he has not yet done – sources alleged to Haaretz that the decision was political.
Known for his more liberal attitudes on conversion and women's issues, Riskin has in the past come into conflict with the Chief Rabbinate. According to sources present, these disputes were discussed at the meeting.
The Tzohar Rabbinical Organization reacted furiously to the rumors, asserting that "above any effort to depose Rabbi Riskin flies a clear red flag of revenge directed against his positions and halakhic decisions."
"Rabbi Riskin, who has led the community of Efrat with love and dedication and is beloved by so many, is a true symbol of spiritual leadership. And instead of exalting his accomplishments, figures in the Chief Rabbinate are choosing to force the Rabbi into early retirement because of their political considerations or apparently so that they can appoint insiders in his place."
Calling Riskin a "visionary leader," Tzohar stressed it would do "everything possible to combat the hostility emerging from haredi leaders who seem intent on exerting control over Israel's halakhic and rabbinic discourse."
The American-born Riskin has been Efrat's Chief Rabbi since the community in the Judean Mountains was founded in 1983.