Ethiopian chief rabbi in Israel who rapped Chief Rabbinate will not have contract renewed

JERUSALEM (JTA) – The chief rabbi of Israel’s Ethiopian community will not have his contract renewed reportedly because he accused the Chief Rabbinate of discrimination in the marriage registration of Ethiopian Israelis.

Rabbi Yosef Hadane’s contract expires at the end of July.

Army Radio first reported on Monday, citing unnamed senior officials in the Religious Affairs Ministry, that the decision not to extend Hadane’s service came in response to his criticism of racial discrimination by the Chief Rabbinate against Jewish Ethiopians, in particular his protest of the difficulty that Israelis of Ethiopian descent have registering for marriage in Petach Tikvah.

Hadane will be 67, the mandatory retirement age, when his contract expires. However, other rabbis have been granted automatic extensions once they reach retirement age.

His forced retirement reportedly was announced by the ministry without first discussing it with him, according to Army Radio. He has served in the position for three decades.

“‘Rabbi Hadane is an employee of the ministry and will be treated in the same regard as any state employee who retires at age 67,” the Religious Affairs Ministry said in a statement. “The Rabbi may retire in late July even though he crossed the retirement age seven months ago.”

The Tzohar Rabbinical Organization said it was “deeply disturbed” by the action and urged the ministry to reconsider its decision.

“Seemingly his only transgression was his brave decision to stand in defense of Ethiopian Jews who had been denied the right to marry according to halacha by the Petah Tikvah Rabbinate,” the group said in a statement.

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