Rabbi Shlomo Dichovsky was unanimously chosen on Friday to be the temporary director of the rabbinical courts after two Ashkenazi members of the appointments committee walked out in protest.
The two were MK Moshe Gafni (United Torah Judaism ) and a rabbinical judge, Rabbi Haggai Izrir. Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger, who also initially opposed Dichovsky's candidacy, voted in his favor, so approval would be unanimous.
Dichovsky served as a rabbinical judge and head of the rabbinical court in Ashdod, in Tel Aviv and in High Rabbinical Court before retiring. Dichovsky is seen as a moderate, whose rulings often clashed with the worldview of Lithuanian Hasidism and Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv.
"The Ashkenazi ultra-Orthodox made a great to-do," one official present at the meeting told Haaretz. "They wouldn't agree to appoint anyone except their own candidates. But all their candidates represented extremist ultra-Orthodox attitudes. At the end of the day, this discussion tested whether the ultra-Orthodox will have a majority that allows them to dictate whatever they want, or whether their power has limits."
Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman, who chairs the appointments committee, decided to appoint a provisional director to the rabbinical courts to allow a further three for finding an agreed permanent director.
Neeman said the provisional head would not be able to compete for the permanent position, and so many prospective candidates decided not to run at this stage.
"For the first time in many years, the Ashkenazi ultra-Orthodox didn't get what they wanted," a source present at the meeting said.