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April 21, 2014 / 21 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Shas’

Eli Yishai to Not Run for Jerusalem Mayor

Wednesday, June 26th, 2013

MK Eli Yishai, the former head of the Shas party has decided he will not be running for mayor of Jerusalem, according to a report in the Israeli, Chareidi La’Daat website.

Yishai was the political head of the Shas party until Shas’s spiritual leader, Rav Ovadia Yosef, kicked him out and replaced him with Aryeh Deri. Following the completion of Aryeh Deri’s prison sentence, Deri had a cooling-off period before he could return to the politics.

Upon Deri’s going to prison, Yishai replaced Deri for 13 years, during which time Yishai ran Shas as a responsible and effective political party.

Associates of Yishai said that he had been considering challenging incumbant mayor Nir Barkat for the position in the upcoming race, but in the end Yishai has decided he wants to remain working in the national politics, and still within the Shas party.

As the Minister of the Interior in former governments, Yishai earned the reputation of being an honest person and a politician who did his job well.

Currently no candidates have announced their decision to challenge Nir Barkat for position of mayor of Jerusalem.

Polls Show Gains on Left and Right and a Dent in the Middle

Monday, June 10th, 2013

Yair Lapid’s star is beginning to dim, with his Yesh Atid party losing two seats in the Knesset in a Knesset Channel poll released on Monday. The two-seat drop from its current standing in the Knesset is even more serious when taking into consideration that Lapid was sitting on top of the poll three months ago, when Yesh Atid was leading the pack.

The Likud-Beiteinu party  lost five seats in the poll, from 31 to 26, while Tzipi Livni’s party bearing her own name lost one third of its popularity, falling to only four seats if elections were held today.

The Haredi religious parties lost three seats between them.

The departures have flocked to the left and right, with the Jewish Home picking up one seat in projected elections results, and Meretz and Labor on the left picking up eight seats between them.

A Crack in the Wall of Haredi Opposition

Sunday, May 19th, 2013

There are two major issues that the Haredi world in Israel is now being confronted with. One is the draft. The other is the funding of their schools. The new government has promised to severely reduce allocations to their schools if they do not adopt a minimal core curriculum of limudei hol (secular studies).

It’s hard to tell exactly where the truth lies. But there is definitely something going on with Shas, the party guided by the rabbinic leadership of Rav Ovadia Yosef. And it is for the better.

According to a Ynet report last week, Shas actually agreed to install a core curriculum into its educational system. That would mean that it will not lose any funding. It would also mean that all Sephardi yeshivos would be able to continue functioning as they have in their study of Torah for the vast majority of the day – leaving only a couple of hours for the core curriculum. If that is the case, it is an earth shattering decision. A crack in the wall of unified Haredi opposition to limudei hol.

If this were to happen a new era would begin whereby Haredi students (at least Sephardi ones) would for the first time be able to learn some of the basic skills necessary for the modern day job market. Skills that would enable them to go on towards a higher education and even professional schools.

Not that they would all do that. I’m sure that the Haredi ethic of full time Torah study would still be emphasized and that a core curriculum would be seen much the same way it is by Haredim in the U.S. – as a necessary evil required by the government. While that is still problematic, the mere fact that they are mandating a core secular studies program is a major step forward as it will provide better options for those who do want to enter the workforce at some point in their lives. They will have those skills in their pockets.

I would hope that even though they would be installing a core curriculum under protest, that they would have at least the same attitude about it that Rav Elia Svei had that there is no mitzvah to waste your time. If you are going to study limudei hol, you may as well do it well. His Yeshiva high school in Philadelphia once boasted a fine secular studies program.

But the the truth is that it is not yet clear that Shas is on board with this. There has been some controversy about a short conversation between Education Minster Shai Piron of Yesh Atid and MK Aryeh Deri of Shas. In an attempt to avoid hatred between the two factions, Piron phoned Deri to assure him that funding will not be cut until a new system that will include a standardized core curriculum will be established for Haredi schools that will not damage the Haredi way of life. It has yet to be determined if this will happen.

Unfortunately the conversation was characterized by Deri as a victory for Shas. That deteriorated into an accusation by Finance Minister Yair Lapid into calling Deri a liar. So much for trying to avoid hatred.

But, despite all this uncertainty, I see light at the end of the tunnel. It seems that Shas has at least blinked. If in the end there is some sort of core curriculum adopted by Shas… that will destroy the so-called unified opposition by Haredi rabbinic leadership to secular studies. The idea put forward that the evil Israel government is out only to destroy Yiddishkeit incrementally – a little bit at a time will lose its validity. Because if Shas has adopted this program it will show that a gadol (great leader)is now convinced that this is not so… something which most of the rest of the religious world already knows. Besides – they would have to accuse Rav Yosef of joining with the forces of evil. I do not see that happening.

I don’t know where that puts the Ashkenazi rabbinic leaders. But my guess it is somewhere between a rock and a hard place. All the screaming and shouting about leaving the country instead of succumbing to the evil decree will be seen for what it is – an unreasonable fear of the past. A past based on legitimate fears about removing Jews from the shackles of Torah. Where anti-Torah forces insidiously wanted to introduce a few innocent core subjects that they hoped would become a slippery slope away from Yiddishkeit. This is what I have called fighting ghosts.

I don’t know whether the current Askenazi rabbinic leaders will change their attitude. My guess is that they won’t. How they will deal with Rav Yosef is an interesting question. But I’m sure they will stick to the program.

What may very well happen is that a new grass roots paradigm will arise along the lines of a Yeshiva like Marava. Marava is a Haredi Yeshiva that operates on the American model. They have a serious limudei kodesh (religious studies) program and a serious limudi hol program. Which is subject to the educational standards of the State. These new schools may not measure up entirely to Marava, but they will measure up to whatever the government decides is a required core curriculum.

It would therefore be a prudent move for these rabbinic leaders to be in on the negotiations of what a core curriculum should consist of. If Shas has decided to go along with this program than I’m sure they will be in on the process.

If this happens the Ashkenazi Haredi world can then have its cake – and eat it too. What will happen is what should have happened a long time ago. The vast majority of their students will get a minimal amount of preparation for a better life – a life that will no longer almost guarantee poverty. But there will also probably still be some Haredi schools that will not offer secular studies. They will be privately funded. And there will be a lot less of them. They will contain the elite students of Torah with the potential to be gedolim.

Not that I think they too wouldn’t be better off with a strong knowledge of limudei hol. But… one battle at a time.

Now that Shas has (hopefully) come around… this is a step in the right direction which may spark an overall change. The only question is… have they? Or is all this just talk? I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

Visit Emes Ve-Emunah.

Rebellion in Shas

Sunday, May 5th, 2013

On Saturday Night, Rav Ovadiah Yosef, the spiritual head of the Shas party said that he had to return political control of the Shas party back to Aryeh Deri, as it was promised to be returned to him (Deri) when he was sent to prison.

Eli Yishai, the successful, but now displaced Shas party head, who had replace Deri, has reportedly turned down the consolation prize of running Rav Ovadia’s El HaMaayan school network.

Rumor has it that Yishai might leave the Shas party and run for mayor of Jerusalem.

Rabbi Ovadia Dumps Yishai, Crowns Deri as Shas Party Leader

Thursday, May 2nd, 2013

Shas spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef has given his blessing for the charismatic Aryeh Deri to return to his former position as head of the Shas political party at the expense of Knesset Member Eli Yishai.

Since the return of Deri to the Knesset after the end of his seven-year banishment as a  result of a bribery conviction for which he was jailed, Yishai has headed the party in the Knesset. After this year’s elections, he shared the leadership with MKs Deri and Ariel Atias, who probably will head the party’s caucus in the Knesset.

‘That’s Just How It Is In The Knesset’

Wednesday, May 1st, 2013

Last week, a few minutes after my stormy exchange with haredi members of Knesset, I went to what we in the Knesset call the “back cafeteria.” It is not exactly a cafeteria but rather a lounge area behind the plenum where members of Knesset alone can enter.

There are couches and chairs, a smoking room, an espresso machine, and a large plasma TV that broadcasts the Knesset channel. This is the place where Knesset members can rest a little, gossip, close deals, and even develop friendships far from the public eye.

I took a coffee and sat with two fellow Yesh Atid MKs, Rena Frenkel and Yifat Kariv, who were still short of breath from the emotions that had just been unleashed in the plenum. After a minute, UTJ MK Rabbi Moshe Gafni, whom I had engaged in most of the debate, appeared next to us.

Gafni is a complex person. Most of the time in the plenum he acts haughty, attacking and shouting – a “hero of interruptions” who is equipped, as I mentioned from the podium, with a very strong pair of lungs that enable him to deafen you without a microphone.

But the moment he is away from the cameras he becomes a sweet, reasonable person whom you can come to agreements with regarding laws and committee work. In my eyes, and apparently in his as well, this is not duplicitous. When one is in the plenum, one is a representative of the public. When one is in the back cafeteria, one can be a human being.

“You are making a mistake, Rabbi Gafni,” I told him.

“Regarding what?” he asked.

“Regarding the debate.”

“Why?”

“Listen,” I said. “Tomorrow I am ascending the stage at the National Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv to give my first comprehensive speech as finance minister. I am going to present the principles of the economic policies I plan to present to the government, to provide details regarding my vision for Israeli society, and to explain for the first time the reforms the finance ministry is planning to pass in the Economic Arrangement Law. ”

“So what was the mistake?” Gafni asked.

“The mistake,” I answered, “is that from every perspective it would be better for me to present this speech in the Knesset. In my view, it is more democratic and more fitting that members of Knesset be the first to hear from the finance minister regarding his financial program rather than reading about it the next day in the newspaper.”

“You are very right,” said Gafni, “so why don’t you do that?”

“Because your faction won’t let me even complete the first sentence,” I said. “We both know precisely what will happen. I will start to speak, you will begin to scream, and I won’t succeed in explaining anything. An economic plan is complex and it deserves to have a real discourse and thoughtful dialogue based on facts and realities. I need twenty-five minutes to explain the budget and I don’t think it is too much to ask MKs to listen with seriousness and without interruptions for twenty-five minutes to something that will set the course for the country’s economy.

“If you would agree to give me this opportunity, I am prepared to sit afterward for six straight hours, to listen to your side regarding every detail in the budget, to take notes, and to look into every issue with seriousness and in good faith.”

“It doesn’t work that way,” said Gafni.

“Why not?”

“Because that’s just how it is in the Knesset.”

“What kind of answer is that? If that is so, then we need to change it.”

“It won’t work.”

“But don’t you agree with me,” I insisted, “that this is how it should work? That this will bring honor to the Knesset and to ourselves?”

“It could be,” Gafni said with hesitation.

“So I want to challenge you,” I said. “Go to the members of the opposition and get them organized. Tell them the time has come to change the rules of the game and create a new discourse. We will establish a couple of hours without interruptions from the floor and I will listen to you and you will listen to me. Perhaps a dialogue will emerge that will make us better. Want to try?”

In an Ocean of Islamic Hatred We Discovered True Friends

Monday, April 22nd, 2013

The Jewish Press has been widely and wildly criticized for giving voice to a young Turkish, Muslim author named Sinem Tezyapar, who is, essentially, a spokesperson for author and television personality Adnan Oktar, pen named Harun Yahya, also a Turkish religious Muslim.

Oktar and his followers (feel free to use the terms “Sect” or “Cult,” it’s not anything they haven’t heard before) are no friends of the secularist establishment in Turkey. Oktar himself has done some serious time in Turkish prison, and his followers live in constant fear of persecution. They are also hated and regularly harassed by fascistic Muslims such as the Al Qaida thugs.

After a fairly jaded start, in which Oktar, or people in his employ, published several books denying the Holocaust and attacking Israel, this Muslim leader began a kind of transformation. He became better acquainted with Judaism and with Zionist history through some new Jewish friends (e.g. Jerusalem-based writer Ehud Tokatly) he was making over the Internet. He recognized his mistakes, apologized for the Holocaust denial book–which he had not authored, and started forging a brand new Muslim vision of a peaceful Middle East in which Israel is not only a Jewish Homeland ruling over its entire biblical territory, but also a place where the Jewish Temple is rebuilt in Jerusalem to become the center of adoration by the entire faithful world.

In addition, Adnan Oktar has played host to major Jewish and Israeli figures, including former Israeli Chief Rabbi Israel Lau, the late Rabbi Menachem Froman, and several past and present Israeli politicians, including many of the Shas leadership.

Sinem Tezyapar, essentially representing her teacher’s lessons, has been laboring over the virtual pages of The Jewish Press to debate against Islamic antisemitism, and presenting through cited verses a positive and optimistic vision of the Koran. At every turn, she has expressed nothing but love and acceptance of Jews and the Torah tradition. I’ve been responsible for bringing her work to this website and for preparing it for publication, and so I’ve been intimately familiar with it. There are no false notes here, no hidden agendas.

And so I was taken aback by the vitriolic response of so many of our readers, who attacked Sinem either as a naïve simpleton who doesn’t really understand what a hateful religion she follows, or a sinister Svengali, looking to trap innocent Jews in her web of lies.

At this stage of the game, the caustic debate has spread beyond our own website, to dedicated websites and Facebook pages, intended to smear both the author and us, the supposedly duped Jewish Press. That’s why I feel compelled to respond, so that we’re on the record, rather than to allow some outsider decide what our position might be.

For the record, then, and please feel free to copy and paste this to your hearts’ content (you got that, Israel Matzav?), here are the reasons why The Jewish Press has been publishing these articles:

First, Sinem and Oktar are not promoting terrorism, on the contrary, they openly and unequivocally denounce violence, hatred, anti-Semitism and terrorism.

That’s huge. As a Jew, member of a persecuted minority, my first inquiry regarding a gentile person must be: is he interested in killing me? It’s also recommended to anyone else when picking friends and loved ones, but to Jews it’s absolutely essential.

So, while millions of Muslims want me dead in many different hellish ways, these folks from Istanbul don’t. I find it refreshing and a very good start towards a better future. In fact, once I’m convinced—and I am—that they don’t want me dead, I don’t really care how truly devout they are, how chaste they are (or are not), and what are their preferred peccadilloes. It’s a group of monotheistic gentiles what don’t want me dead – I’m totally happy.

Second, they are preaching an alternative interpretation of Islam, promoting peace, love, tolerance and democracy.

They live in Turkey, for crying out loud, don’t you think they know that most Muslim leaders and followers the world over disagree with them? But they have the courage, even the chutzpah, to tell the world—and they publish unabashedly on Muslim and Arab websites as well—what Islam should be.

Unlike some American sitting in his Mom’s basement, typing away how naïve Sinem is, she is actually putting her money—and her life—where her keyboard is. And she’s doing it patiently, humbly, never an angry word, never a snappy retort. I couldn’t do it, honestly.

So we discovered these lovely Muslim peaceniks, who are lovey-dovey about Jews and Israel, and who completely ignore the grim realities of a billion Muslims out there who hate us. Fine. It still means these strange Muslim don’t want me dead, right? That definitely goes on the plus side in my ledger.

Third, they support Israel’s right to exist as an independent Jewish State, based on the Koran, they pray for the coming of the King Mashiach ben David, they support the right of Jews to pray on the Temple Mount, they oppose Holocaust denial, they support the rebuilding of the Third Temple on the same Temple Mount. Is it any wonder they are being accused by radical Islamists that they are Zionist agents?

A recent Al Qaida attack in Istanbul, I’m told, was in retaliation for Oktar’s hosting of Rabbi Lau.

So, Muslim peaceniks, don’t want to kill me, and they’re saying my country belongs to me. Beats my European friends who say I must give away another two thirds of my country so that my neighbors might agree I have the right to exist.

Fourth, it is in our own interest to embrace friends of the Jews and of Israel. Plenty of Jews happily embrace messianic evangelicals who write openly that all they want is for us to convert to Christianity, and they even know that we’re all going there, like it or not, when That Man supposedly returns. We trumpet any pope who says we no longer have to pay for crucifying what’s his name. We’re a tiny nation, we can’t afford to scoff at anyone who wants to be our friend and lives up to it.

So, please, people, get with it. We’re in a war for our lives in which every friend counts. Enough with the crazy talkbacks.

With Haredim Out of Govt. Summer Clock Will Be Stretched

Monday, April 22nd, 2013

Israel Daylight Savings Time (DST) has long been a bone of contention between the religious and the secular communities. The extended summer clock is a major problem for religious Jews. I recall, back in New York, heading to the early minyan in pitch darkness in mid October, which was never enjoyable and also presented a problem in terms of when it was halachically appropriate to put on a tallit. Needless to say, I gravitated to the later minyanim, but that’s a luxury religious Jews in Israel cannot afford, as the work day here begins at 8 AM, and so they need to be done and in the car going to work by 7.

Traditionally, the Interior Ministry, which decides these things, has been held, more often than not, by a religious minister, and so, despite vociferous objections from secular Israelis who wanted their autumn days longer, DST usually ended here right before or right after the high holidays (nothing sweeter than a Yom Kippur fast that ends at 6 PM).

But now, following the great Lapid-Bennett victory, the new Interior Minister is Gideon Sa’ar, a secular Likudnik, who is bent on flexing some secular muscle on DST.

A committee that had been appointed by the outgoing Shas Interior Minister Eli Yishai—because the secular folks were pushing him relentlessly—extended the maximum DST period from 190 to 198 days, which the religious promptly protested but eventually accepted.

Now Minister Saar has appointed yet another committee to examine the issue, which should submit its report within a month, according to Yedioth Aharonoth, and if you don’t think it will recommend extending the daylight savings period then you haven’t listened to a word I’ve been telling you about Israeli coalition politics..

Haredi politicians from both black hat parties were smart enough to refuse to comment on the prospects of a longer DST, preferring not to ignite a new firestorm over this issue—which they couldn’t possibly put out. The votes are stacked against them.

For comparison, in Europe the summer clock is stretched over 218 days, and in the U.S. a whopping 239 days, which makes you wonder if the measly 126 winter clock period deserves to be named “Standard.”

Minister Saar wrote on his Facebook page yesterday: “The purpose of the committee is simple, to determine the best arrangement for the citizens of Israel, having examined all relevant aspects. I instructed the committee to hold hearings quickly and efficiently, in an effort to complete them within a month.”

And vote in favor of the secular.

This is one more area where the Israeli—and European—notion of democracy differs from the Anglo-Saxon. Over here, democracy means making sure the will of the majority is expressed in government decisions. In British-influenced civilized democracies, the purpose of legislation is to protect the interests of the minority.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/with-haredim-out-of-govt-summer-clock-will-be-stretched/2013/04/22/

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