List of Chief Rabbis of Israel

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The Chief Rabbi of Israel was a religious appointment that began at the time of the British Mandate in Palestine, and continued through to the State of Israel. The post has two nominees, one for the Ashkenazi communities that came from Europe, and one for the Sefaradi communities from North Africa and the Middle East. In recent times the post has become more political than religious.

List of Chief Rabbis[edit]

Ashkenazi Chief Rabbis
No Image Name Term Notes
Avraham Issac Kook portrait cropped.JPG
Abraham Isaac haCohen Kook 1921-1935 Chief Rabbi of Mandatory Palestine
Yitzhak HaLevi Herzog 1945 portrait.jpg
Yitzchak haLevi Herzog 1936-1959 Chief Rabbi of Ireland 1919-1936

First Chief Rabbi of the State of Israel

Father of Israeli president, Chaim

Grandfather of the former leader of the Israeli Labor Party, Isaac

Isser Yehuda Unterman portrait 1964.jpg
Isser Yehuda Unterman 1964-1973
הרב שלמה גורן.jpg
Shlomo Goren 1973-1983 Chief Rabbi of the IDF 1948-1968
Avraham Shapira 1983-1993
Yisrael Meir Lau.jpg
Yisrael Meir Lau 1993-2003 Father of David Lau
Rabbi Yona Metzger (6).JPG
Yona Metzger 2003-2013 Later convicted for fraud and served prison sentence
David Lau.jpg
David Lau 2013-present Son of Yisrael Meir Lau
Sefardi Chief Rabbis
No Image Name Term Notes
Jacob Meir Jerusalem Rabi.jpg
Yaacov Meir 1921-1939 First Chief Rabbi of Palestine
Rabbi Ben-Zion Meir Hai Uziel.jpg
Ben-Zion Uziel 1939-1954 First Chief Rabbi of Israel
Yitzhak Nissim1958.jpg
Yitzchak Nissim 1955-1973 Father of former MK, minister and deputy Prime Minister, Moshe Nissim
Ovadia Yosef.jpg
Ovadia Yosef 1973-1983 Spiritual leader and founder of Shas political party
Father of Yitzchak Yosef
Mordechai eliyahu.jpg
Mordechai Eliyahu 1983-1993
Eliyahu Bakshi-Doron.jpg
Eliyahu Bakshi-Doron 1993-2003 Convicted of fraud, sentenced to probation and ordered to pay a NIS 250,000 fine
Shlomo Amar.JPG
Shlomo Amar 2003-2013 Related to Yitzchak Yosef by marriage
Yitzhak Yosef.jpg
Yitzchak Yosef 2013-present Son of Ovadia Yosef
Related to Shlomo Amar by marriage

Chief Rabbinate Council[edit]

The Chief Rabbis also head the Chief Rabbinate Council. These rabbis are usually appointed from the Chief Rabbis of major cities or regions in Israel.

Among the roles of the council is giving out kosher certification, nominating rabbis able to perform wedding ceremonies, appointing rabbis of cities and appointing religious judges who are able to sit on a Beth Din.[1]

The current members of the council are:[2]

Chief rabbis of the armed forces[edit]

In addition to the Chief Rabbinate, there is also a position as the Chief Rabbi of the Israel Defense Forces. This individual has a rank of Tat Aluf (Brigadier General).

Years Image Name
Shlomo Goren.jpg
General Rabbi Shlomo Goren Chief Rabbi of Israel 1973-1983
Rav Piron portrait.png
General Rabbi Mordechai Piron
Gad Navon.jpg
General Rabbi Gad Navon
2000-2006 General Rabbi Yisrael Wiess
Avichai Rontzki.jpg
General Rabbi Avihai Rontzki
HaRav Rafi Peretz.JPG
General Rabbi Rafi Peretz Head of the Jewish Home political party 2019-present
הרב אייל קרים.png
General Rabbi Eyal Karim Member of Chief Rabbinate Council

Religious authorities prior to the British Mandate[edit]

The Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem[edit]

In addition to the Chief Rabbis there were a number of rabbis who served as the head rabbi in Palestine, or of a particular community

  • Levi ibn Habib (b. Spain)—ruled from Jerusalem but in 1538, Rabbi Jacob Berab who came from Spain via Egypt, sought to revive the Sanhedrin, in Safed, thus making that city the competing capital of the Jewish community in Palestine. He was opposed and exiled by ibn Habib and the rabbis of Jerusalem but Safed remained the competing capital for a number of years thereafter. Berab was succeeded in Safed by Joseph Caro (b. Spain) who was ordained by him.
  • David ben Solomon ibn Abi Zimra of the Egyptian rabbinate—ruled simultaneously in Jerusalem succeeding ibn Habib. In 1575, Moshe Trani (b. Greece) succeeded Caro in Safed.
  • Moshe ben Mordechai Galante of Rome—ruled from Jerusalem
  • Haim Vital—succeeded Trani in Safed but moved his rabbinate to Jerusalem which, once again, became the sole capital of Israel. In 1586, the Nahmanides Synagogue was confiscated by the Arabs and the ben Zakkai Synagogue was built in its stead.
  • Bezalel Ashkenazi—first chief rabbi to preside in the ben Zakkai Synagogue[3]
  • Gedaliah Cordovero[4]
  • Yitzhak Gaon?
  • Israel Benjamin[5]
  • Jacob Zemah (b. Portugal)[6]
  • Samuel Garmison (b. Greece)[7]

Rishon LeZion 1665–1842[8][edit]

The Hakham Bashi 1842–1918[9][edit]


  1. ^ "הרבנות הראשית לישראל | מועצת הרבנות הראשית". Retrieved 2018-12-08.
  2. ^ "הרבנות הראשית לישראל | חברי מועצת הרבנות הראשית". Retrieved 2018-12-08.
  3. ^ Encyclopedia Judaica—"Levi ben Habib"—vol. 11 col. 99; "Berab, Jacob"—vol. 4 cols. 582–4; "Caro, Joseph"—vol. 5 col. 194; "Galante, Moses (I)"—vol. 7 col. 260; "Ashkenazi, Bezalel"—vol. 3 col. 723;, "Jerusalem—Jacob Berab and ibn Habib"
  4. ^ Encyclopedia Judaica—"Cordovero, Gedaliah—vol. 5 col. 967
  5. ^ Encyclopedia Judaica—"Benjamin, Baruch"—vol. 4 col. 527; "Benjamin, Israel"—vol. 4 col. 528
  6. ^, "Jerusalem—Solomon al-Gazi's Description"
  7. ^ Encyclopedia Judaica—"Garmison, Samuel"—vol. 7 col. 329
  8. ^ Encyclopedia Judaica—"Rishon Le-Zion" vol. 14 col. 193;, "Jerusalem—In the Eighteenth Century" "In the Nineteenth Century" "Albert Cohn and Ludwig Frankl"
  9. ^ Encyclopedia Judaica "Jews of Jerusalem" "Institutions"; Encyclopedia Judaica—"Israel, State of"—Religious Life and Communities—vol. 9 cols. 889–90
  10. ^ Laredo, Abraham Isaac. Les noms des Juifs du Maroc, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, Instituto "B. Arias Montano," 1978. pg. 184