Yair Lapid, chairman and founder of the Yesh Atid Party, which ended with a surprisingly strong second place finish in the Israeli election Tuesday, had his first and only major appearance in the United States at last year’s convention of the Rabbinical Assembly. In May 2012, Lapid addressed the Atlanta convention of the international umbrella organization for Conservative rabbis.
During his address to the RA, Lapid focused on the need for increased religious pluralism in Israel, as can be seen in this online video excerpt of his remarks.
Lapid’s entire remarks is also available. Highlights can be found at the following points:
9:00: “This is really important because I believe that Jewish identity is in danger, and you are the gatekeepers … You are part of the last line of defense that believes that Judaism shouldn’t be the jailhouse of ideas, but the liberator if ideas. Judaism should not be the disintegrator of people but what gets people together. And Judaism shouldn’t be subordinated to small politics because it answers a higher rule.”
19:34: “I’m going to do whatever is necessary, whatever is in my power, to make it feasible to women, Conservative or Reform, to pray at the wailing wall, wearing their prayer shawls.
“Why? Because Israel cannot be the only country in the Western World that has no freedom of religion for Jews. This is just wrong.”
20:20: “I’m going to do everything in my power to make sure that there are going to be civil marriages in Israel.
“The total dominance of the Israeli Rabbanut over marriage and divorce in Israel is an insult to every free man. This is just wrong. “I’m going to do everything in my power to ensure the equality of all movements of Judaism in Israel … in conversion, in budgets, in the eyes of the law.”
21:45: “The majority of Israelis are actually Conservative, they just don’t know it. “The majority of Israelis want a pluralistic, sane, welcoming Judaism; they are just not aware of the fact that there is such a thing.”