(JTA) — David Lau and Yitzchak Yosef, both sons of former Israeli chief rabbis, were elected Ashkenazi and Sephardi chief rabbi of Israel, respectively.
Wednesday’s election, in which 150 Knesset members, local officials and regional rabbis voted, was the culmination of a tense, months-long campaign with an unusually high public profile. Both terms will last 10 years.
Lau is the son of former Chief Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau. Like his father, who served from 1993 to 2003, Lau hopes to serve as a bridge between Israel’s modern Orthodox and haredi Orthodox communities. He is currently chief rabbi of the central Israeli city of Modiin.
Yosef is the son of Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, the spiritual leader of the Sephardi Orthodox Shas party who held the post from 1973 to 1983. The win is seen as a victory for Shas, which the elder Yosef founded soon after his chief rabbi term ended. Yitzchak Yosef is the head of the Hazon Ovadia yeshiva in Jerusalem, which was founded by and named for his father.
Lau won the post by defeating Rabbi David Stav, a reformist candidate who gained widespread support from secular Israelis with his pledges to streamline the rabbinate bureaucracy. He was also the preferred candidate of several political parties, including the centrist Yesh Atid, the hardline Yisrael Beiteinu and the nationalist Jewish Home.