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Posts Tagged ‘Shas’

Outrage over Radical Haredi Mob Attack on Haredi Soldier

Wednesday, July 10th, 2013

Jerusalem police Tuesday rescued a uniformed Haredi soldier from a mob of more than 100  rock-throwing Haredi attackers in Jerusalem’s Mea Shearim neighborhood, where four people were arrested.

Haredi soldiers have increasingly been attacked by other Haredim – those who are anti-Zionist – but the ferocity of Tuesday’s ambush was unprecedented and drew wall-to-wall condemnation from Israeli politicians.

Of course, there were exceptions to the outrage. Haredi Knesset Members were silent, except for Shas.

A coalition of government ministers from the Likud, Jewish Home, Yesh Atid and other parties expressed disgust at the assault on the Haredi soldier, who hid into a nearby building to escape the assault. Riot police, also under attack by rock throwers, took him out of danger. The soldier, who is from metropolitan Tel Aviv and was visiting a relative, was not injured.

“Any attempt to physically or spiritually harm soldiers should be dealt with harsh penalties by the State,” said Yesh Atid Minister Yaakov Peri, chairman of the  Knesset Committee for Promoting Equal Share of the Burden Chairman. He urged Haredi community leaders “to take responsibility before a disaster occurs,” and called the incident an “attempted lynch.”

Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid, who campaigned in the last election on a platform of eliminating deferment to Haredim, called the attack “appalling.”

A new bill to eliminate Haredi deferments was overwhelming approved by a ministerial committee Sunday and is to be voted on by the Knesset.

Three rabbis of the Nahal Haredi army unit also condemned the attack, which they said was an “embarrassment and a disgrace” to the Haredi community in Mea Shearim.

Aryeh Deri, leader of the Shas party went so far as to say that the attack by “extremist and delinquent youth” violates Torah sages’ teaching that a Jew who harms another Jew is “evil.”

The attack was reported overseas and given headline coverage by Fox News, giving Israel a royal black eye.

Rabbi Ovadia Yosef Recovering from Back Surgery

Tuesday, July 2nd, 2013

Shas party’s spiritual leader and former Chief Sephardi Rabbi Ovadia Yosef is recovering from major back surgery at Hadassah Ein Kerem Medical Center in Jerusalem following the procedure on his spine the previous day.

Yosef, 93, was scheduled to be transferred out of the intensive care unit on Tuesday. He was admitted to the hospital on Sunday for the third time in recent weeks suffering from intense pain due to a fall in his home early last month. He also had a minor stroke in January.

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.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/rabbi-ovadia-dumps-yishai-crowns-deri-as-shas-party-leader/2013/05/02/

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