After ten years of debate, Jerusalem elects rabbis for its two top positions

After more than a decade of rancorous debates and court decisions over the election of two chief rabbis of Jerusalem, Aryeh Stern and Shlomo Amar were chosen for the roles.

By tradition Jerusalem has two chief rabbis, one who is Sephardic and one who is Ashkenazi. Sephardic Jews descend from communities in Spain and Northern Africa. Ashkenazi communities developed in Central Europe.

The positions had been open since the previous rabbis died. Among the conflicts that arose afterward was an argument over who would be allowed to vote. Traditionally, the voting was spread among members of the Municipal Council of Jerusalem. This would have involved 48 people representing a variety of opinions but skewed toward the ultra-Orthodox because of the way the council is set up. Zionists campaigned for 12 of the 48 votes to be cast by representatives from synagogues throughout the city. The decision was taken as far as the High Court, which adjudicated according to a scheme whereby four votes went to synagogues of Zionist persuasions, four to Sephardic synagogues, and four to the ultra-Orthodox. (The ultra-Orthodox may be described as anti-Zionist, for they reject the legitimacy of the state of Israel.)