There are ongoing issues surrounding the status of Ethiopian Israeli religious leaders, such as the question of affording the Kessim more recognition and government support.
And why aren’t there more Ethiopian rabbis in the ministry? There are numerous problems regarding the rabbinate’s treatment of Ethiopian Jews and their traditional religious leaders and their positions – or lack of positions – in the institutionalized religious and quasi-governmental channels in Israel.
Rabbi Hadane has navigated these channels for a long time, trying to act as a mediator to all sides. It is his right – and his duty – as a rabbi and leader to speak out when he believes injustice is being done, as he did in the case of the Petah Tikva rabbinate.
Rav Hadane is the Ethiopian Israeli chief rabbi. For the Chief Rabbinate to refuse to renew his contract, when this is routinely done for other rabbis, screams of outright retaliation for his views. It is outrageous and offensive, and it is wrong.
Now, to offer him only a six-month extension of his contract is further insult. It demonstrates a lack of respect for both Rav Hadane and the Ethiopian Israeli community.
Rav Hadane’s contract should be renewed immediately for at least five years. When the time does come for him to retire, it should be done with the appreciation, ceremony and respect due to all important community and religious leaders.