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A New Direction for Shas?

One of the most interesting aspects of the whole Emmanuel school affair has been Shas. As a party, they have kept relatively quiet, trying not to make enemies with anyone. The one Shas MK who has not kept quiet is Rabbi Haim Amsalem. He has repeatedly said that Sephardim have to fight for what is rightfully their’s and that they shouldn’t be afraid to offer an alternative to the Ashkenazi rabbinic world. He has already gotten some rabbis angry with his lenient stand on conversion. This article from Ynet is one of the loudest calls for a new direction from Shas in the last few weeks. Here’s the ending of the column. (trans. mine)

This is our job as rabbis, leaders, and public representatives. In front of our eyes must only be the good of the people of Israel. We must return the crown to its glory. It is not the returning of the “Lithuanian” crown, or the crown of Ponevezh, rather, it is the crown of the Torah in the moderate and welcoming Sephardic spirit. The time has come to fulfill the verse, “You shall throw off his yoke from around your neck.” (Genesis 27:40)

Update: From this article in Haaretz about a meeting between Shas MK and parents of girls in the non-Hasidic track at the Emmanuel school.

“They spilled our blood and you remained silent,” said a devoutly ultra-Orthodox father, Amnon Assaf, whose daughter studies in the general track, to the Shas people. “They said Sabbath-desecrators? They are talking about me, me. They spilled our blood in the media, everywhere, and you kept quiet. The spilling of blood is also on you, because you kept quiet,” he accused them.

If the following is true, this MK is pathetically ignorant.

Afterward, one of the Knesset members told Haaretz: “They came to the meeting, all of them with beards down to their navel. Ultra-Orthodox. I was really very surprised. I expected newly religious people in jeans, people who aren’t prepared to accept the definitions of the Orthodox – newly religious people who go around like secular people. Suddenly they show up, completely ultra-Orthodox. I thought just a minute, what’s going on here?”

4 Responses to “A New Direction for Shas?”

  1. 1
    Lion of Zion:

    shas is quite because

    1) it is a sefardi party but it is also a haredi party. so while it obviously thinks the discrimination is evil, it also thinks the involvement of the court and other secular powers is evil
    2) it is a sefardi party, but it is also a political party. who knows what is going on behind the scenes and it wouldn’t be the first time shas sold out

  2. 2
    Lion of Zion:

    quite = quiet

  3. 3
    Yoine Cohen:


    If you/we give credence to the claim of Rabbi Amsalam that the Sefardi way if of moderation in all matters of Halacha; and I agree, and so would any talmid chacham who is familiar with classical Halacha. But if you accept that principle, then you can’t blame strict leaning Chasidim who would want to “shelter” their children from this lenient view and way of living.

    After all both sides agreed that only “religious standards” should matter in deciding who gets admitted to the ultra-orthodox school, and both sides agree and the court did not object that having a school that shelters children from the outside is a legitimate endeavor. The argument is only to what degree such sheltering is acceptable.

    Judge Edmond Levy of the Supreme Court of Israel, however ruled that both the standards of “tzniut” [modesty standard of dress code] and the curriculum (teaching more about Chasidic Rebbe’s to the exclusion of learning of Sefardi Gedolim) had the “effect” of discrimination; since most Sefardim in Emanuel did not want to adhere to such stringencies. The Court ordered a change in both aspects. [Similar to the ordering the the Police or Fire Dept to change their physical exams in order to lift the number of women who qualify.) Of course that kind of interference forced the hand of the Charedim/Chasidim, and they removed their children.

    The court jailed the parents for contempt of court, even though the parents were not part of the litigation at all. An outrage that nobody can or should support. Even in the worst cases of racial strife in the U.S. concerning busing or discrimination, the right of white racist parents to remove and withhold their children from an integrated school was held to be a constitutional right of association; that right was never challenged. But in “enlightened” Israel, even after the school administration accepted all rulings, held that the parents -under threat of jailing- must send their kids to a school that had court ordered ‘religious’ standards.

    Still as a Charedi I am ashamed at the whole affair, I am chasidic and Chasidim did cause shame to innocent Sefardim and their precious children with the separation wall, and we must do teshuva on that. But the more one claims that the Sefaradi way is different and lenient, the more the “racism” argument loses its value. But of course, those who have a grudge on the very existence of ‘sheltered’ Chasidic schools will throw any argument that will stick.

  4. 4
    Jewish Ideas Daily:

    An interesting article in Hebrew about Shas and the Immanuel affair can be read at (Maariv’s website).




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