Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau, Israel’s former chief rabbi, is set to retire from public service and his role as Tel Aviv’s chief rabbi.
The rabbi, who recently celebrated his 80th birthday, was legally required to leave public service at the age of 75, but has been able to continue to serve after the Chief Rabbinate’s council extended his term by five years in 2012.
Until a suitable replacement can be found—a process that could last a few months at the very least—Lau will continue to hold the title of Tel Aviv’s chief rabbi unofficially, but he will have no authority and will not receive a salary.
Rabbi Lau is seen both in Israel and abroad as a stately and moderate rabbi, one of the greatest religious adjudicators of conservative ultra-Orthodox Judaism, and a unifying figure for religious and secular Jews.
Coming from a long line of rabbis, Lau made his way up the rabbinical ranks from the role of Netanya’s chief rabbi to Israel’s chief rabbi, a position he held for a decade from 1993 to 2003.
Lau, who survived the Holocaust as a child and lost his parents in Auschwitz, is the chairman of the Yad Vashem council. He was also awarded the Israel Prize for his life’s work and recognized for his special contribution to Israeli society and to the state of Israel.
Rabbi Lau served in Tel Aviv’s chief rabbinate for almost 30 years in two separate terms. He was first appointed the chief rabbi of Tel Aviv in 1988 after about a decade in this role in Netanya. Five years later, in 1993, he was appointed Israel’s chief rabbi.
He finished his role in the Chief Rabbinate in 2003 and two years later was appointed the chief rabbi of Tel Aviv for the second time.
By Kobi Nachshoni/Ynetnews