Ministry of Religious Services

Ministry of Religious Services
המשרד לשירותי דת
Agency overview
Formed 1949,2008
Dissolved 2003
Jurisdiction Government of Israel
Minister responsible

The Ministry of Religious Services (Hebrew: המשרד לשירותי דת (HaMisrad leSherutay Dat) (formerly Ministry of Religious Affairs and Ministry of Religion) is a government ministry of Israel that handles Jewish religious affairs.


The Ministry of Religious Services appoints religious councils and covers 40% of the shortfall in approved budgets for religious facilities and services; grants financial assistance to yeshivas; plans and finances the construction and renovation of synagogues and ritual baths; supervises Jewish holy places; organizes Torah teaching activities and outreach; organizes public religious celebrations; cultivates religious ties with Diaspora Jewry; certifies kashrut in public and government institutions; coordinates religious services of non-Jewish groups in Israel; plans supplementary religious education for underprivileged youth; provides Jewish ritual articles to new immigrants, schools and the needy; and provides budgets for the Chief Rabbinate and rabbinical courts.[1]

List of ministers

The Religious Services Minister of Israel (Hebrew: שר לשירותי דת, Sar LeShirutei Dat) is the political head of the Ministry of Religious Services and a relatively minor position in the Israeli cabinet.

The post was included in the provisional government, and was initially known as the Minister of Religions and War Victims. Upon the formation of the second government on 8 October 1951 it became the Minister of Religions. On 5 August 1981 the post was renamed Minister of Religious Affairs. The post was scrapped on 1 January 2004, but resurrected on 14 January 2008.

Most office holders have been religious Jews, though some were secular. Haim Yosef Zadok, a secular Jew, served twice, in 1974 and 1977.[2] During his short stints, Zadok worked to streamline the operation of the rabbinical courts and strengthen relations with the religious leaders of all faiths.[2] Zerach Warhaftig was the longest serving minister, holding the post for over 12 years between 1961 and 1974. In Benjamin Netanyahu's government the portfolio changed hands six times, with four people holding the post (Netanyahu three times and Eli Suissa twice).

# Minister Party Government Term start Term end Notes
Minister of Religions and War Victims
1Yehuda Leib MaimonMizrachi
United Religious Front
P, 1, 214 May 19488 October 1951
Minister of Religions
2Haim-Moshe ShapiraHapoel HaMizrachi
National Religious Party
3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 88 October 19511 July 1958
3Ya'akov Moshe ToledanoNot an MK8, 93 December 195815 October 1960Died in office
4Zerach WarhaftigNational Religious Party10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 152 November 196110 March 1974
5Yitzhak RafaelNational Religious Party1610 March 19743 June 1974
6Haim Yosef ZadokAlignment173 June 197429 October 1974
Yitzhak RafaelNational Religious Party1730 October 197422 December 1976
Haim Yosef ZadokAlignment1716 January 197720 June 1977
7Aharon AbuhatziraNational Religious Party1820 June 19775 August 1981
Minister of Religious Affairs
8Yosef BurgNational Religious Party19, 205 August 198113 September 1984
9Shimon PeresAlignment2113 September 198423 December 1984
Yosef BurgNational Religious Party2113 September 19845 October 1986
10Zevulun HammerNational Religious Party21, 22, 237 October 198611 June 1990
11Avner ShakiNational Religious Party2411 June 199013 July 1992
12Yitzhak RabinLabor Party2513 July 199227 February 1995
13Shimon SheetritLabor Party25, 2627 February 199518 June 1996
14Binyamin NetanyahuLikud2718 June 19967 August 1996
15Eli SuissaShas277 August 199612 August 1997
Binyamin NetanyahuLikud2712 August 199722 August 1997
Zevulun HammerNational Religious Party2722 August 199720 January 1998Died in office
Binyamin NetanyahuLikud2720 January 199825 February 1998
16Yitzhak LevyNational Religious Party2725 February 199813 September 1998
Eli SuissaShas2713 September 19986 July 1999
17Yitzhak CohenShas286 July 199911 July 2000
18Yossi BeilinOne Israel2811 October 20007 March 2001
19Asher OhanaNot an MK297 March 200128 February 2003
20Ariel SharonLikud3028 February 200331 December 2003
Minister of Religious Services
Yitzhak CohenShas3114 January 200831 March 2009
21Ya'akov MargiShas3231 March 200918 March 2013
22Naftali BennettThe Jewish Home3318 March 201314 May 2015
23David AzulaiShas3414 May 2015

Deputy ministers

# Minister Party Government Term start Term end
1Zerach WarhaftigHapoel HaMizrachi45 January 195326 January 1954
Zerach WarhaftigNational Religious Party7, 89 January 19561 July 1958
2Binyamin ShahorNational Religious Party13, 141 February 196617 November 1969
3Haim DrukmanNational Religious Party1911 August 19812 March 1982
4Moshe GafniDegel HaTorah2423 July 199013 July 1992
5Rafael PinhasiShas2531 December 199214 September 1993
6Aryeh GamlielShas2713 August 199622 August 1997
Aryeh GamlielShas2724 August 199720 January 1998
Aryeh GamlielShas2725 February 19986 July 1999
7Yigal BibiNational Religious Party2713 August 199620 January 1998
Yigal BibiNational Religious Party2725 February 19986 July 1999
Yigal BibiNational Religious Party285 August 199912 July 2000
8Eli Ben-DahanThe Jewish Home3318 March 201314 May 2015


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