Winnipeg Jewish Review  
Site Search:
Home  |  Archives  |  Contact Us
Features Local Israel Next Generation Arts/Op-Eds Editorial/Letters Links Obituary/In Memoriam

Moshe Sharify
Photo by Rhonda Spivak

The Sharify Family. "Moshe is an adult in a boy's body" say his parents.
Photo by Rhonda Spivak

Nisan Sharify and his son Moshe
Photo by Rhonda Spivak

Moshe Sharify
Photo by Rhonda Spivak


By Jonah Mandel and Rhonda Spivak, October 12, 2010

A 14-year-old boy petitioned the High Court of Justice on Wednesday to force the Chief Rabbinate to check his ordination exam, so that he may be able to be ordained as a rabbi.

After being tested over the course of a year by 10 senior rabbis, Moshe Raziel Sharify of Netanya had filled the necessary forms and was invited by the Department of Examinations and Certifications of the Chief Rabbinate for the rabbinate’s written exam in July.

How young can a rabbi be?
Young rabbi-wannabe struggles for recognition

However, Chief Sephardi Rabbi Shlomo Amar who came to wish the examinees luck, noticed the young face and ordered that his form not be checked and graded in line with the rabbinate’s policy that the minimum age for ordination is 22.

In a preliminary meeting of the Council of the Chief Rabbinate over Sharify’s ordination, Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi Yona Metzger had been in favor of allowing the young man to become a rabbi. However, as director of Metzger’s office Rabbi Haim Hemdinger told The Jerusalem Post in August, the chief Ashkenazi rabbi’s opinion did not win out, with Amar leading the opposition.

All the same, the invitation for the exam was sent to Sharify, but according to sources in the rabbinate, only out of the desire to encourage his exceptional skills and ambition, without the intent to actually consider his candidacy. The rabbinate later said that the invitation was a mistake.

Following the incident, Sharify’s father Nissan, who has a doctorate in law, said he would petition the High Court of Justice to have his son’s examination marked and counted, like the examinations of all other candidates.

On Sunday the court received the petition, filed by Nissan and his firm, which demanded that the young Sharify’s test be checked, and to overrule the rabbinate’s policy that determines 22 as the minimum age for ordination, or at least to order the forming of a committee to examine exceptions to the rule.

For earlier related story see:

By Rhonda Spivak, August 13, 2010

Fourteen Year  Old Moshe Sharify, A  Quiet, Pious Genious Desperately Wants to become A Rabbi- The Youngest In The World. Several prominent Rabbis Across Israel Have Given Him Their Backing, And Even Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of Israel Yona Metzger Thinks He’ll Make A Great Rabbi. He was invited by the Chief Rabbinate to take an ordination examination.  But After Completing the Test, He Was Told His Paper Wouldn’t Be Marked.  The Reason? An Unofficial, Internal Rabbinate Ruling That Doesn’t Allow Anyone Under 22 To Even Take The Examination.

Fourteen year old  boy wonder, Moshe Raziel Sharify  who lives with his  family in Ramat Poleg, Netanya  would like to become the youngest Rabbi in Israel, and most likely the word , after having  recently written examinations for the Rabbinate which were held in Jerusalem and administered in by the Chief Rabbinate.
In the last year, the young student has been tested by some 10 well known and senior Rabbis for his knowledge of Jewish law, all of whom have been clearly impressed with the  the  length and breadth of his knowledge and intellectual capabilities. The consensus among them appears to be that he is a genius.
However,  Sharify’s proposed route to the Rabbinate has already become  a matter of significant controversy.

Sephardic Chief Rabbi Shlomo  Amar remains steadfast in maintaining that notwithstanding that Sharify  was tested,  his examination  ought not  to be marked as he is not eligible for the Rabbinate until he reaches age 22.  Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger, on the other hand, had initially supported Sharify’s  quest to become a Rabbi at age 14. 

Oded Weiner, Director General of the Chief Rabbinate’s office told the Jerusalem Post that “There is an internal decision made many years ago by the Council of the Chief Rabbinate   that  no one under the age of 22 is eligible  to be examined  for the rabbinate.”

He clarified that this internal decision “is  not a  formal regulation. It is not something  that is on the books of the Knesset. It is an internal decision.”

Sharify’s father,  Nisan Sharify who has a doctorate in law from Bar Ilan University and practices  taxation law, says he will petition the High Court of Justice to have his son’s examination marked and counted, like the examinations of  all other candidates.

“There is no legal regulation that says he must be 22 to become a  rabbi, and he has already been tested after being recommended by many rabbis as the genius of his time.  His test should be marked officially and since I have no doubt he has passed, he should become a rabbi now.”

He notes that even  if his son were to become a  Rabbi at age fourteen, he will not be permitted to deal with matters of marriage and divorce as this is “something that only a rabbi who is a dayan can do.”

When asked whether anyone has ever taken examinations for the rabbinate, before they were age 22, Weiner responded, “As far as I can remember in the last five years , there was never such an outstanding exception. Maybe  the Department of Examinations of the Chief Rabbinate allowed it if someone  was within a few months of being  age 22 or within a year of being age 22.”

The young man’s mother Ronit who has a doctorate of political science from Bar Ilan University   she spoke to Metzger   directly and he supports  her son’s examination being given a formal mark so that it can be counted and Moshe will get this Rabbinical ordination.  “Metzger is in favor of this, “ says Ronit.
Haim Hemdinger, the director of  Metzger’s office confirmed  that  after Metzger had initially expressed this attitude there was a meeting of the  Council of the Chief Rabbinate, at which Metzger’s opinion did not win out.  According to Hemdinger “at the meeting  Rabbi Amar led the opposition to allowing  a 14 year old to be allowed to write the test,” and Amar’s position was adopted by the Council. 

Nevertheless, the young Sharify was sent a letter from the Department of  Examinations and Certifications  of the Chief Rabbinate of Israel to invite him to  take the examinations for the rabbinate on July 12, 2010 in The International Convention Center. He paid the examination fee and arrived early.

Nisan, Moshe’s father, says that once his son got that letter calling him to the examinations he thought that  it had been decided finally to allow his son to take the examinations and have them marked just like anyone else’s.

But, Hemdinger told the Post that the father “knew that we were allowing the son to take the

<<Previous Article       Next Article >>
Subscribe to the Winnipeg Jewish Review
  • Coughlin Insurance
  • Wallace + Wallace
  • Joyce Rykiss
  • Asper Foundation
  • Munroe Pharmacy
  • Imperial Soap
  • GTP
  • Nick's Inn
  • Aziza Family
  • Total Lighting Sales
  • Daien Denture Clinic
  • Eddie's Gravel Supply
  • Tyler Bucklaschuk
  • Sveinson Construction
  • The Home Store
  • KC Enterprises Ltd.
  • Carol and Barry McArton
  • Bob and Shirley Freedman
  • Dr. Ted and Harriet Lyons
  • Chisick Family
  • Dimensions Insurance
  • HUB International
  • Artista Homes
  • Southwynn Homes
  • Tradesman Mechanical
  • Accurate Lawn & Garden
  • Ronald B. Zimmerman
  • Fetching Style
  • TD Canada Trust
  • Stringer Rentals
  • Interlake C Store
  • John Wishnowski
  • Ingrid Bennet
  • Lakeside Roofing
  • Gulay Plumbing
  • Sean Fisher
  • Bridges for Peace
  • City Sheet Metal
  • Superlite
  • Thovaldson Care
  • Chochy's
  • Kristina's
  • Cascade Financial Group Inc.
  • James Bezan
  • Shoppers Drug Mart
  • Erickson Motors
  • The Center for Near East Policy Research Ltd.
  • Sarel Canada
  • Santa Lucia Pizza
  • Center for Near East Policy Research
  • Roofco Winnipeg Roofing
  • Center for Near East Policy Research
  • Nachum Bedein
  • Taverna Rodos
  • Maric Homes
Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

Opinions expressed in letters to the editor or articles by contributing writers are not necessarily endorsed by Winnipeg Jewish Review.