Natan Sharansky, the famed refusenik and current chairman of The Jewish Agency for Israel, spoke out in support of Rabbi Shlomo Riskin’s retention of his position as chief rabbi of the community of Efrat in Judea and Samaria. Riskin’s future in that role, which he has held since 1983, is reportedly being evaluated by the Israeli Chief Rabbinate.
Riskin is about to turn 75, an age at which such communal leadership positions within the Chief Rabbinate would normally end. But the American-born Riskin is seeking a five-year extension from the rabbinate. Riskin is known to push the boundaries of the rabbinate’s traditional policies on issues such as conversion to Judaism and the role of women. Earlier this year, he appointed a female spiritual advisor, Jennie Rosenfeld, in Efrat.
On Wednesday, Sharansky called Riskin “a Jewish leader and Israeli patriot,” and said that Efrat deserves his continued service as chief rabbi.
“Rabbi Riskin’s contributions to aliyah, to building the State and Land of Israel, to connecting the Jews of the Diaspora to their homeland, and to connecting all Jews to the Torah are of historic proportions,” Sharansky said in a statement. “In view of these outstanding and unparalleled achievements, there should be no questions about his qualifications for his continued service.”