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Eliahu Bakshi-Doron

BAKSHI-DORON, ELIAHU (1941– ), rabbi, Sephardi chief rabbi of Israel. Bakshi-Doron was born in Jerusalem, where he studied at Hebron yeshivah and in the kollelim of Mosad Ha-Rav Kook and Kol Ya'akov.

He served as a neighborhood rabbi in Bat Yam, becoming the city's chief rabbi in 1972. In 1975 he was appointed chief Sephardi rabbi of Haifa, serving in that capacity until elected Sephardi chief rabbi of Israel in 1993. His ten-year term ended in April 2003.

On September 12, 2001, Chief Rabbi Bakshi-Doron called on the Islamic clerics who had published a fatwa (religious edict) ordering suicide-bombings and declaring the bombers shahids – martyrs – to rescind it and call on the world to preserve the sanctity of life, and to forbid large-scale attacks on innocent civilians. At times, Bakshi-Doron has taken controversial stands. At one point, he suggested that the Moslems retain their authority over the Temple Mount. However, he did decry the unsupervised Arab construction that has taken place on the Temple Mount in recent years. Bakshi-Doron also suggested that Israel's Marriage Law be rescinded, thus ending the Chief Rabbinate's monopoly on marriage and divorce. Since the rabbinic process was creating more enemies than friends of Judaism among secular Jews, perhaps the time had come for radical change. This particular statement caused a great uproar in religious circles.

Bakshi-Doron published dozens of articles reflecting his Torah learning, studies dealing with halakhic solutions to medical, economic, legal, and social problems as well as facets of political science. His work Binyan Av (vol. 1, 1982; vol. 2, 1989) deals with many facets of halakhah and also gives rabbinic responses to current issues. A third volume appeared following the order of the weekly Torah readings to which Rabbi Bakshi-Doron brings new light to aggadah and Jewish thought. The book also contains speeches given by the rabbi. Throughout his career, Rabbi Bakshi-Doron has worked for Torah education, establishing, among others, a kolel in Tel Aviv, an advanced bet midrash in Bat Yam, and a Torah learning center in Haifa. Bakshi-Doron also served as president of the Committee of Sephardi Communities and was a board member of numerous social and charitable foundations. He was also a member of the Board of Directors of LIBI.

Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2007 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.