One of the first Israeli politicians to champion the two-state solution, Yossi Sarid was also one of the last vestiges of the Israeli Left's old guard. He will be remembered warmly for never turning away a person in need, but also for his contentious attitudes toward religious and Mizrahi Jews. For better or worse, there has never been a more perfect embodiment of the old Israeli left than columnist and politician Yossi Sarid, who passed away from a heart attack age 75 late last week. He was an uncompromising champion of human and civil rights, of free speech, of separation…Read More...
Although it is run by ultra-Orthodox men and its path for social mobility is anchored in religion, Shas remains the only truly socially minded political party and is certainly the only Mizrahi party. One voter's search for answers. By Efrat Shani-Shitrit A few weeks ago, flyers targeting the women of north Tel Aviv were posted around the suburban streets of one of its better-known neighborhoods, Ramat Aviv: "If you live in Ramat Aviv, don't vote for us. If you work for someone who lives in Ramat Aviv: Only Shas." Aryeh Deri, who until the most recent Knesset had not led the…Read More... | 20 Comments
For a secular Jewish woman in Jerusalem, the funeral of Rabbi Ovadia Yosef presented an opportunity to cross one of the city’s strongest yet invisible boundaries – entering the bowels of the ultra-Orthodox world. By Michelle Bubis When you belong to the dwindling minority of secular Jewish progressives in Jerusalem, it’s hard to sustain more than the standard rant against religious oppression. But while flatly opposing the politics of faith that run this place may be the way to go pragmatically, it runs the risk of throwing out the human interest with the bathwater. On a day when a sheer…Read More... | 14 Comments
Former Sephardic chief rabbi and spiritual leader of Shas was known for efforts to reconcile Jewish law with modernity, advance the status of Mizrahi Jews in the Israeli religious establishment and in Israeli politics and society. Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, the spiritual leader of the Sephardic-Haredi Shas party passed away Monday at the age of 93. Yosef recently suffered from a series of health problems, specifically with his heart and lungs. He was hospitalized several times in the last month. Yosef was a complex and not always well understood figure. He was know for his groundbreaking rulings which tried to incorporate…Read More... | 9 Comments
Compulsory military service for yeshiva students is a popular issue for secular politicians. But Shas and other Orthodox parties will continue to get their way on this issue, partly because of Israel's fragmented electoral system, but also largely because Zionism depends on the haredim for its raison d'être. By Steven A. Cook Washington -- Last week the Israeli media reported that Shas spiritual leader, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, suffered a minor stroke. Although his doctors were mum on what might have caused the episode, sources close to Yosef indicated that a contributing factor was the rabbi’s fear of a renewed push among…Read More... | 27 Comments
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