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?”