Thursday, September 4, 2008

Jerusalem, Israel - Former Chief Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu Backs Secular Candidate For Jerusalem Mayor

Jerusalem, Israel -- Former Chief Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu, the National Religious Party's Halachic authority and one of the most prominent Rabbonim of the Date LeUmi movement, has said that secular candidate Nir Barkat would make a better mayor than Charedi candidate Meir Porush.

In recent months a relationship has been developing between R’ Eliyahu and Barkat. Barkat has even reportedly met to learn Torah with R’ Eliyahu’s head secretary, R’ Shmuel Zafrani. However, R’ Eliyahu has until now refrained from making any public statements in support of Barkat.

One of the central issues in this year’s campaign is the appointment of a head Rabbi in Jerusalem. Barkat is currently vying for the election of a Dati LeUmi head Rabbi, against the wishes of the Charedi community.

In response to R’ Eliyahu’s statement Barkat said, "I am touched by the support and would like to thank R’ Eliyahu for his belief in me. Throughout recent years I have been blessed to spend many hours in his company. We worked together to promote significant issues in Jerusalem, like the appointment of a Dati LeUmi head Rabbi for the city."

Meanwhile, Porush also faces the possibility of a split vote from Jerusalem’s Charedi community due to former Shas Chairman Aryeh Deri's potential mayoral candidacy. On Wednesday, Shas Chairman Eli Yishai announced that his party would support Deri’s candidacy in the event that he decides to run for mayor.

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