(December 25, 2019 / JNS) New Right Party leader Naftali Bennett said on Tuesday that his party would only join a future coalition if the religious services minister post is filled by a religious Zionist, as opposed to someone from the haredi, or ultra-Orthodox, sector.
The haredi Shas Party has held the Religious Services Ministry portfolio since 2008, except for the two-year period from 2013-2015, when it was held by Bennett.
“We will return the religious portfolio to religious Zionism,” Bennett wrote on Twitter on Tuesday. “Our heritage and our tradition need to become the glue of unity, not a battleground. We must bring back approachable Judaism—on kashrut, on marriage, on everything.”
The religious services minister oversees the budget for state-funded synagogues and rabbis, ritual baths, conversion courts, life-cycle events and kashrut supervision. National religious figures are often seen as less stringent on many of these issues compared to the ultra-Orthodox.
Bennett issued a similar ultimatum in 2015, but did not follow through, as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appointed Shas head Aryeh Deri to the post.
Bennett and New Right No. 2 Ayelet Shaked have campaigned in the recent election cycles with the goal of bridging between the secular and religious right. A more flexible religious services minister, they believe, might be better able to bring together the two sectors of Israeli society.
Support Jewish Journalism
with 2020 Vision
JNS is more than just another news website and syndication service. It is an organization devoted to nonstop reporting, and telling the truth about Israel and Jewish issues unburdened by the biases and institutional blinders that distort so much of what we read, hear and see about these topics elsewhere in the secular and even Jewish press.
At JNS, you get the facts about Israel and Jewish issues without the bias that so often tilts the argument against the Jewish state. JNS articles and columns are republished every week by digital outlets and print newspapers across the globe. But in the age of round-the-clock news coverage, advertising and syndication revenues are not enough to support our continued growth. We need your financial help to keep JNS on target as we continue our fair and accurate reporting.
Please help us take JNS to the next level with a tax-deductible sponsorship, either on a recurring monthly basis. Jewish News Syndicate is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization.