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Yona Metzger

Yona Metzger

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Yona Metzger is the Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi
Chief Rabbi
Chief Rabbi is a title given in several countries to the recognized religious leader of that country's Jewish community, or to a rabbinic leader appointed by the local secular authorities...

 of Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

. His counterpart is Rabbi Shlomo Amar
Shlomo Amar
Rabbi Shlomo Moshe Amar has been the Sephardi Chief Rabbi of Israel and the Rishon LeZion since his appointment in 2003. His colleague is Rabbi Yona Metzger, the Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of Israel....

, the Sephardic
Sephardi Jews
Sephardi Jews is a general term referring to the descendants of the Jews who lived in the Iberian Peninsula before their expulsion in the Spanish Inquisition. It can also refer to those who use a Sephardic style of liturgy or would otherwise define themselves in terms of the Jewish customs and...

 Chief Rabbi of Israel since their appointments in 2003.

Background


Rabbi Metzger was born in Haifa
Haifa
Haifa is the largest city in northern Israel, and the third-largest city in the country, with a population of over 268,000. Another 300,000 people live in towns directly adjacent to the city including the cities of the Krayot, as well as, Tirat Carmel, Daliyat al-Karmel and Nesher...

 in 1953. He served in the Israel Defense Forces
Israel Defense Forces
The Israel Defense Forces , commonly known in Israel by the Hebrew acronym Tzahal , are the military forces of the State of Israel. They consist of the ground forces, air force and navy. It is the sole military wing of the Israeli security forces, and has no civilian jurisdiction within Israel...

 as a chaplain
Chaplain
Traditionally, a chaplain is a minister in a specialized setting such as a priest, pastor, rabbi, or imam or lay representative of a religion attached to a secular institution such as a hospital, prison, military unit, police department, university, or private chapel...

, fought in several wars in the 7th Armored Brigade, and was discharged with the rank of captain. He is the youngest Chief Rabbi in Israel's history. Rabbi Metzger received his ordination from the Yeshivat Kerem BeYavne hesder
Hesder
Hesder is an Israeli yeshiva program which combines advanced Talmudic studies with military service in the Israel Defense Forces, usually within a Religious Zionist framework...

 yeshiva
Yeshiva
Yeshiva is a Jewish educational institution that focuses on the study of traditional religious texts, primarily the Talmud and Torah study. Study is usually done through daily shiurim and in study pairs called chavrutas...

 before working as a religious teacher. He served as rabbi of the Tiferet Zvi Synagogue in Tel Aviv
Tel Aviv
Tel Aviv , officially Tel Aviv-Yafo , is the second most populous city in Israel, with a population of 404,400 on a land area of . The city is located on the Israeli Mediterranean coastline in west-central Israel. It is the largest and most populous city in the metropolitan area of Gush Dan, with...

 and was later appointed regional rabbi of northern Tel Aviv. Metzger has written ten books, two of which were awarded prizes by the President of Israel. He is also the former head of a publishing house.

While Metzger is from a National Religious family and educational background, he has been closely identified with Haredi Judaism
Haredi Judaism
Haredi or Charedi/Chareidi Judaism is the most conservative form of Orthodox Judaism, often referred to as ultra-Orthodox. A follower of Haredi Judaism is called a Haredi ....

, and often seeks the advice of Degel HaTorah
Degel HaTorah
Degel HaTorah is an Ashkenazi Haredi political party in Israel. For much of its existence it has been allied to Agudat Yisrael under the name United Torah Judaism.-Ideology:...

's spiritual leader Rabbi Yosef Shalom Eliashiv. Some observers have claimed that this makes Metzger an excellent candidate to represent both communities, with one reporter calling him "undoubtedly the most moderate and most Zionist candidate." His supporters have often compared him to his immediate predecessor, Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau
Yisrael Meir Lau
Yisrael Meir Lau is the Chief Rabbi of Tel Aviv, Israel, and Chairman of Yad Vashem. He previously served as the Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of Israel from 1993 to 2003.-Biography:...

, who was seen as having a foot in every camp, which helped him in dealing with different kinds of Jews, particularly secular ones. However, others have suggested that the perception of Metzger not having a "real base" has in fact hurt his credibility. Some Religious Zionists consider Metzger to have "sold out" to the haredim, and do not consider Metzger to be a member of their community.

Term as Chief Rabbi


Since becoming Chief Rabbi, Rabbi Metzger has been very active in attempting to reach out to various diverse groups of people, both Jews and non-Jews. His many high-profile relationships and cooperations with leaders of other faiths and nationalities are reminiscent with the "international" reputation of his predecessor, Rabbi Lau. Rabbi Metzger has attempted to facilitate the maintaining of kashrut
Kashrut
Kashrut is the set of Jewish dietary laws. Food in accord with halakha is termed kosher in English, from the Ashkenazi pronunciation of the Hebrew term kashér , meaning "fit" Kashrut (also kashruth or kashrus) is the set of Jewish dietary laws. Food in accord with halakha (Jewish law) is termed...

 standards in Israel by employing technology, for instance, by activating steam pumps for cooking meat via cell phone in order to avoid issues of bishul akum, (the cooking of food by a non-Jew). Metzger has also been involved in strengthening ties between Israeli and Diaspora
Diaspora
A diaspora is "the movement, migration, or scattering of people away from an established or ancestral homeland" or "people dispersed by whatever cause to more than one location", or "people settled far from their ancestral homelands".The word has come to refer to historical mass-dispersions of...

 standards of kashrut in order to make them more standardized and consistent.

Rabbi Metzger has been a prominent activist in attempting to keep up public interest in the cases of several "lost Israelis", notably Jonathan Pollard
Jonathan Pollard
Jonathan Jay Pollard worked as a civilian intelligence analyst before being convicted of spying for Israel. He received a life sentence in 1987....

 and Ron Arad
Ron Arad (pilot)
Lieutenant Colonel Ron Arad , was an Israeli Air Force weapon systems officer who is officially classified as missing in action since October 1986, but is widely presumed dead...

. He has repeatedly brought up Arad in the course of official meetings with various Muslim dignitaries. Metzger has also been involved in keeping up the pressure on both the Israeli and various Arab governments to protect the safety and negotiate the release of various Israeli prisoners taken captive by Hezbollah,
culminating in the 2004 release of Israeli businessman Elchanan Tenenbaum.

In 2004, Metzger announced an initiative to insert a special prayer for Jonathan Pollard into the daily prayer service. The prayer was written by Metzger and is written in the style of a "Mishberach prayer" intended for people in dire straits. Many Orthodox synagogues announced that they would adopt the new prayer into their liturgy.

Interfaith dialogue


A major priority for Rabbi Metzger has been to encourage friendly relationships with other religious communities. One idea that Metzger has repeatedly proposed has been the establishment of a religious United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

 in Jerusalem. He first advocated this in late 2004 after mediating a highly-publicized dispute between Jerusalem haredim and the Armenian Christian community. He raised the idea again in February 2006, at an ecumenical meeting between several high-profile rabbis and Muslim clerics with the 14th Dalai Lama
14th Dalai Lama
The 14th Dalai Lama is the 14th and current Dalai Lama. Dalai Lamas are the most influential figures in the Gelugpa lineage of Tibetan Buddhism, although the 14th has consolidated control over the other lineages in recent years...

 in Israel, and again in March 2006, while attending the International Congress of Imams and Rabbis for Peace in Seville
Seville
Seville is the artistic, historic, cultural, and financial capital of southern Spain. It is the capital of the autonomous community of Andalusia and of the province of Seville. It is situated on the plain of the River Guadalquivir, with an average elevation of above sea level...

, Spain.

Under Metzger's plan, the new body would contain representatives of the world's religions as opposed to nations. Metzger has also suggested that the Dalai Lama could lead the assembly. At their 2006 meeting, Metzger was quoted as saying, "Instead of planning for nuclear war and buying tanks and fighter jets, it will invest in peace... Religious leaders will get the opportunity to meet one another and discover that they have more in common than they may have realized..." The Dalai Lama was reportedly very excited at the idea and pledged to help Metzger realize his plan. Other supporters include Frederico Major, the co-president of the Alliance for Civilizations, a Spanish lobby group for international conflict resolution.

On a February 2007 trip to India, Metzger joined other prominent rabbis in signing a declaration against violence with local Hindu leaders, as part of a summit organized by the World Council of Religious Leaders. One of the points emphasized by the participants was the commonality between Jews and Hindus, particularly in regards to ongoing violence at the hands of Muslims. Metzger noted in his remarks that "Jews have lived in India for 2,000 years and have never been discriminated against. This is something unparalleled in human history."

In March 2008, Metzger enthusiastically supported an interfaith conference proposed by King Abdullah
Abdullah
-Places:*Abdullah Gan, mountainous region of Afghanistan*Abdullah Hukum LRT station, elevated rapid transit station in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia*Kampung Haji Abdullah Hukum, was an urban village located in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia...

 of Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia , commonly known in British English as Saudi Arabia and in Arabic as as-Sa‘ūdiyyah , is the largest state in Western Asia by land area, constituting the bulk of the Arabian Peninsula, and the second-largest in the Arab World...

. Metzger said, "I give my blessing to every initiative that can prevent bloodshed and terror, especially in our area of the world," adding that most terror in the twenty-first century was religiously motivated and therefore religious engagement and interfaith dialogue was crucial to solving the problem of terrorism.

Metzger was part of a delegation of religious leaders that met with UN Secretary General
United Nations Secretary-General
The Secretary-General of the United Nations is the head of the Secretariat of the United Nations, one of the principal organs of the United Nations. The Secretary-General also acts as the de facto spokesperson and leader of the United Nations....

 Ban Ki-moon
Ban Ki-moon
Ban Ki-moon is the eighth and current Secretary-General of the United Nations, after succeeding Kofi Annan in 2007. Before going on to be Secretary-General, Ban was a career diplomat in South Korea's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and in the United Nations. He entered diplomatic service the year he...

 in Moscow
Moscow
Moscow is the capital, the most populous city, and the most populous federal subject of Russia. The city is a major political, economic, cultural, scientific, religious, financial, educational, and transportation centre of Russia and the continent...

 in April 2008.

In his welcoming notes to Pope Benedict XVI at the Heichal Shlomo Great Synagogue, rabbi Metzger opened by congratulating the pontiff on his arrival to "our holy land - the land to which we prayed to return during 2000 years of exile... And, with God's help, our meeting today is taking place in the Land of Israel, in our city of Jerusalem - the eternal capital of the Jewish people."

Relationship with Armenians


During his term Metzger has been involved in several notable incidents of rapprochement with the global and Israeli Armenian communities.

In December 2004 Metzger was instrumental in easing tensions between Jerusalem's haredim and Armenian Christians following an incident in which a Haredi yeshiva student spat on an Armenian Archbishop
Archbishop
An archbishop is a bishop of higher rank, but not of higher sacramental order above that of the three orders of deacon, priest , and bishop...

. Metzger gained further attention in November 2005, during a visit to the Memorial of Armenian Genocide and Genocide Museum in Yerevan
Yerevan
Yerevan is the capital and largest city of Armenia and one of the world's oldest continuously-inhabited cities. Situated along the Hrazdan River, Yerevan is the administrative, cultural, and industrial center of the country...

. He laid a wreath and gave a short speech in which he acknowledged the pain of the Armenian people and emphasized that though Israel does not formally recognize the Armenian Genocide
Armenian Genocide
The Armenian Genocide—also known as the Armenian Holocaust, the Armenian Massacres and, by Armenians, as the Great Crime—refers to the deliberate and systematic destruction of the Armenian population of the Ottoman Empire during and just after World War I...

 as a genocide
Genocide
Genocide is defined as "the deliberate and systematic destruction, in whole or in part, of an ethnic, racial, religious, or national group", though what constitutes enough of a "part" to qualify as genocide has been subject to much debate by legal scholars...

, he does "use that term." Metzger went on to say that "no other nation can understand the pain of the Armenians better than Jews." Metzger's comments received a very positive reaction in Armenia, particularly at the implication that more Israelis are changing their positions on using the term "Genocide" to refer to the Armenians. As Israel is a very strong ally of Turkey
Turkey
Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe...

, many are optimistic that a change in Israeli attitudes could eventually lead to a similar phenomenon in Turkey.

Turkey's Jews, on the other hand, themselves a vulnerable minority population, reacted with some discomfort at Metzger putting them in an awkward situation. The spokesman for Turkey's Chief Rabbi commented, "Let the historians do their job and then we will see."

2003 election


Metzger appointment was controversial as he was not considered a halachic
Halakha
Halakha — also transliterated Halocho , or Halacha — is the collective body of Jewish law, including biblical law and later talmudic and rabbinic law, as well as customs and traditions.Judaism classically draws no distinction in its laws between religious and ostensibly non-religious life; Jewish...

 authority and his election may have been orchestrated by Eliashiv. Metzger had never served as a religious judge (dayan), though his role as Chief Rabbi would require him to sit as President of the Rabbinical Supreme Court for five years, before switching with his Sephardic counterpart to be head of the Chief Rabbinate Council. Outgoing Sephardic Chief Rabbi Eliyahu Bakshi-Doron
Eliyahu Bakshi-Doron
Eliyahu Bakshi-Doron , is a former Sephardi Chief Rabbi of Israel.-Background:Rabbi Hamza Bakshi-Doron was born in Jerusalem and studied in several prominent Religious Zionist yeshivot...

 wrote a letter to the Chief Rabbinic Council citing a 1998 rabbinical investigation into Metzger's personal conduct and credentials, following accusations of sexual harassment, forged signatures on wedding contracts, fraud and threatening other rabbis.The commission of rabbis found Metzger's explanations of his actions "insufficient" and ruled him "unfit to serve as a rabbi." The commission, which included Rabbi Shlomo Amar, later agreed to drop the ruling on condition that Metzger withdraw his candidacy for chief rabbi of Tel Aviv, which he did. Bakshi-Doron was incensed to learn that, five years later, Metzger had now entered into the race for Chief Rabbi of the state. He called his appointment "a desecration of God's name."

WorldPride


In April 2005 Metzger united with Shlomo Amar, along with prominent Muslim and Christian religious leaders in condemning announcements that organizers of WorldPride
WorldPride
WorldPride, organised by InterPride, is an event that promotes lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues on an international level through parades, festivals and other cultural activities. Founded by Paul Stenson. From 2014, the 45th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, the event will be held...

, a Gay Pride festival, intended to hold their 2005 ten-day meeting in Jerusalem. At a press conference, Metzger pleaded with WorldPride's leaders: "Please do not damage the holiness of Jerusalem. Preserve its character, preserve its peace. Cancel your plans."Metzger and his cohorts were criticized by many in both the LGBT
LGBT
LGBT is an initialism that collectively refers to "lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender" people. In use since the 1990s, the term "LGBT" is an adaptation of the initialism "LGB", which itself started replacing the phrase "gay community" beginning in the mid-to-late 1980s, which many within the...

 and liberal Jewish movements for what they deemed religious intolerance. The festival, which was planned for August, was postponed until 2006 so as to not coincide with the Disengagement
Disengagement
The term disengagement can refer to:*Disengagement by director Amos Gitai*Israel's unilateral disengagement plan*Disengagement *Religious disengagement*Apathy...

 from Gaza
Gaza
Gaza , also referred to as Gaza City, is a Palestinian city in the Gaza Strip, with a population of about 450,000, making it the largest city in the Palestinian territories.Inhabited since at least the 15th century BC,...

. See 2006 Jerusalem gay pride parade
2006 Jerusalem gay pride parade
The 2006 Jerusalem gay pride parade was a scheduled event which took place on November 10, 2006. The demonstration was met with violent counter-demonstrators.-Background:...

.

Criminal allegations


In 2003, the Israeli newspaper Ma'ariv
Maariv
Maariv is a Hebrew language daily newspaper published in Israel. It is second in sales after Yedioth Ahronoth and third in readership after Yedioth Ahronoth and Israel HaYom. In a TGI survey comparing the last half of 2009 with the same period in 2008, Maariv saw its market share fall slightly...

 published a report in which four young men accused Metzger of groping them. He has been accused of sexually harassing women as well. There have been multiple allegations that Metzger forged signatures of witnesses on ketubot to permit him to officiate at as many weddings as possible in a single evening. He has also been charged with demanding exorbitant fees to perform weddings.

In February 2005 the Israeli police began a formal criminal investigation of Metzger regarding allegations of fraud and bribery related to benefits Metzger received from a Jerusalem hotel. Metzger was questioned twice and denied any wrongdoing, but suspended himself from the Rabbinical High Court in June 2005 while waiting to see if the Israeli Attorney General
Attorney General
In most common law jurisdictions, the attorney general, or attorney-general, is the main legal advisor to the government, and in some jurisdictions he or she may also have executive responsibility for law enforcement or responsibility for public prosecutions.The term is used to refer to any person...

 Menachem Mazuz
Menachem Mazuz
Menachem Mazuz is an Israeli jurist, who served as the Israeli Attorney General in the years 2004-2010. Mazuz was born in Djerba, Tunisia, the fourth in a family of nine children of the rabbi of one of the island's Jewish communities...

 would decide to indict him. Despite the National Fraud Squad's announcement that it had sufficient evidence for an indictment, there was little public follow-up through early 2006.

Metzger and his supporters have dismissed all of the accusations against him as part of an ongoing smear campaign against him.

Calls for resignation



On April 3, 2006 Menachem Mazuz announced that he was closing the Metzger investigation and would not seek an indictment against him, citing a lack of sufficient evidence. He added, however, that in light of various "disturbing" information that came to light during the investigation, including contradictory statements given to the police, that the Chief Rabbi should resign. Mazuz told reporters, "Given his flawed conduct, it is only right for Rabbi Metzger to take personal responsibility and decide - on his own accord - to step from his position as rabbinical judge and Chief Rabbi... The continuation of his tenure is liable to seriously hamper the public standing of the chief rabbinate and the main rabbinical court." Mazuz also called on the Justice Ministry to consider bringing Metzger's case "before the Dayanim Selection Committee... to consider ending his term in office" if Metzger did not resign. On April 4, the Justice Ministry confirmed that Metzger would not be able to continue as chief rabbi if the dayanim Appointment Committee disqualifies him from serving as a judge in the High Rabbinic Court.

Shortly after Mazuz's announcement, various activist groups and politicians joined him in urging Metzger's resignation, including National Union
National Union (Israel)
The National Union is an alliance of nationalist political parties in Israel. In the 2009 elections the National Union consisted of four parties: Moledet, Hatikva, Eretz Yisrael Shelanu, and Tkuma.-Background:...

-NRP
National Religious Party
The National Religious Party ) was a political party in Israel representing the religious Zionist movement. Formed in 1956, at the time of its dissolution in 2008, it was the second oldest surviving party in the country after Agudat Yisrael, and was part of every government coalition until 1992...

 MK Yitzhak Levy, Meretz MK Avshalom Vilan, and Labor MK Ophir Pines-Paz. Rabbi Yosef Blau
Yosef Blau
Yosef Blau is an Orthodox rabbi. He currently serves as the Mashgiach ruchani at Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary. He is also the president of the Religious Zionists of America.-Education:...

, President of the Religious Zionists of America, told reporters, "I have no difficulty with the standard for a person being chief rabbi being higher than the standard [for a normal person]... If the description of Attorney General Mazuz is accurate, then this is totally inappropriate for a Chief Rabbi."

The rabbi's supporters included some of Israel's most notable religious figures: several days after Mazuz's criticism, Metzger met with a group of high-profile rabbis, including his political patron, leading Lithuanian rabbi Yosef Shalom Eliashiv, as well as former Chief Rabbis Ovadia Yosef
Ovadia Yosef
Ovadia Yosef is the former Sephardi Chief Rabbi of Israel, a recognised Talmudic scholar and foremost halakhic authority.He currently serves as the spiritual leader of the Shas political party in the Israeli parliament...

, Mordechai Eliyahu
Mordechai Eliyahu
Mordechai Tzemach Eliyahu ) was a prominent rabbi, posek and spiritual leader. He served as the Sephardi Chief Rabbi of Israel from 1983 to 1993.-Biography:...

, and Avraham Shapira
Avraham Shapira
Avraham Elkanah Kahana Shapira was a prominent rabbi in the Religious Zionist world. Shapira had been the head of the Rabbinical court of Jerusalem, and both a member and the head of the Supreme Rabbinic Court. He served as the Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of Israel from 1983 to 1993...

. The rabbis praised his character and integrity, heavily criticized Mazuz's behavior, and promised that they would help the rabbi in fighting the public cries for his resignation. Rabbi Shapira reportedly told Metzger that he was being "watched over" by a "special angel in heaven," and Rabbi Eliyahu commented that in his judgment, Metzger was "pure and clear as snow." However, when reporters attempted to confirm the accounts and quotes given to them by Metzger's aides, at least one rabbi's spokesperson denied the comments were made.

Rabbi Metzger responded to the news by saying that the ruling had been issued "without giving me the opportunity to defend myself. This was a violation of the basic rights enjoyed by every individual." Shortly after Mazuz's comments, the rabbi's spokespeople declared that he had no intention of resigning, and criticized Mazuz for convicting Metzger in the public square by tarnishing his reputation. Some in the Israeli media, while not defending Metzger, also castigated Mazuz for over-stepping his role as Attorney General, and for going after "small fries" like Metzger, as opposed to public figures involved in significantly more serious scandals in an attempt to seem tough on corruption.

Rabbi Metzger filed a petition with the Supreme Court of Israel
Supreme Court of Israel
The Supreme Court is at the head of the court system and highest judicial instance in Israel. The Supreme Court sits in Jerusalem.The area of its jurisdiction is all of Israel and the Israeli-occupied territories. A ruling of the Supreme Court is binding upon every court, other than the Supreme...

 to protest Mazuz's public declaration on April 27, alleging that his image had been destroyed without a chance to tell his side of the story, and accusing Mazuz of engaging in "child-like" tactics. Metzger's lawyer charged that Mazuz's report on Metzger contained unverifiable information and that it constituted a personal attack on the rabbi without giving him the benefit of a defense or hearing. The petition requested that the second half of Mazuz's 30-page report, in which he harshly attacked Metzger's conduct and recommended his removal, be stricken from the record.

In late May the new Justice Minister Chaim Ramon told reporters that he intends to follow up on Mazuz's recommendation and attempt to force Rabbi Metzger's resignation. It was also reported that outgoing Chief Justice Aharon Barak
Aharon Barak
Aharon Barak is a Professor of Law at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya and a lecturer in law at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, the Yale Law School, and the University of Toronto Faculty of Law....

 had attempted to mediate between the parties, proposing a compromise in which all of Mazuz's report would stay in, but that Mazuz would sign a statement retracting his personal criticism of Metzger's character and declaring that "there is nothing which obliges the Minister of Justice to take administrative measures against Metzger", in effect leaving further action to the discretion of the incoming Justice Minister. Metzger's lawyer refused the deal, saying that the damage to Metzger's reputation from the report was too important to be left in as part of a compromise. The court has yet to reach a final decision on Metzger's petition.

In May, as part of an attempt to improve his image, Rabbi Metzger wrote checks to the two hotels where he had allegedly received free services.

In March 2007 the recently installed Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch
Dorit Beinisch
Dorit Beinisch is the president of the Supreme Court of Israel. She was appointed to the position on September 14, 2006, after the retirement of Aharon Barak. She is the first woman to serve as president of the Supreme Court.-Biography:...

 recommended that Mazuz rewrite the report and remove the allegations she called "gossip and rumors."

Return to office


In February 2008, after an investigation prompted by Mazuz's report and a recommendation by Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann that Metzger be impeached, the Justice Ministry appointments committee authorized the end of Metzger's suspension, permitting him to return to his position on the Supreme Rabbinical Court. However in late March the Knesset Interior Affairs and Environment Committee ratified an amendment to the Chief Rabbinate Law that effectively prohibited Metzger from trading positions with Shlomo Amar, as is standard practice halfway through their ten-year term. The author of the amendment claimed that it was not specifically directed against Metzger, arguing that it in fact would allow for future "flexibility," permitting Chief Rabbis lacking training as rabbinical judges, as Metzger does, to "forgo" becoming President of the rabbinical courts. Some Metzger critics, however, argued that the law was only relevant to Metzger because he is the first ever Chief Rabbi to be elected to the position who has no experience as a rabbinical judge.

Potential long-term effects


When Mazuz asked Metzger to resign in 2005, the story initially sparked some debate over the necessity of having two Israeli Chief Rabbis at all, or of maintaining the Chief Rabbinate as an institution. Some suggested that one way of preserving the integrity and relevance of the office might be to convince the religious Ashkenazi communities of Israel decline to hold elections to replace Metzger, should he resign. This move would, by default, consolidate the post from two seats to one, and help eliminate one of the most public representations of the office's perceived anachronism often cited by its critics. However since then there has been little follow-up.

Comments on the Palestinians


Metzger gave an interview with the British Jewish News paper in January 2008 in which he advocated transferring the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip
Gaza Strip
thumb|Gaza city skylineThe Gaza Strip lies on the Eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea. The Strip borders Egypt on the southwest and Israel on the south, east and north. It is about long, and between 6 and 12 kilometres wide, with a total area of...

 to the Sinai Peninsula
Sinai Peninsula
The Sinai Peninsula or Sinai is a triangular peninsula in Egypt about in area. It is situated between the Mediterranean Sea to the north, and the Red Sea to the south, and is the only part of Egyptian territory located in Asia as opposed to Africa, effectively serving as a land bridge between two...

, adding that though Israel welcomed peaceful Muslims, the world's Muslims needed to recognize that Jerusalem "belongs" to the Jewish people, saying, "You have another place, Mecca and Medina, you don't need a third place." Metzger also challenged the idea that Muslims had any connection to Jerusalem at all, noting that when Muslims pray to Mecca, their backs face Jerusalem.http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/948907.html Metzger received some criticism from moderate Israelis for these remarks as well as by some in the Arab world.

Published works

  • Miyam Ha halacha (From the Sea of Halacha), an anthology of Metzger's responsum while Chief Rabbi of Tel Aviv
  • Sufa Bamidbar (In the Desert), a collection of responsum concerning the first Gulf War
  • B'Magalei Hachaim (The Heights of Life), a two-volume work that received the Gold and Platinum Prizes from the President of Israel

External links