Although the new coalition will likely number 23-25 ministers, Yesh Atid is pushing for legislation that will require future cabinets to number no more than 18, the centrist party’s Dov Lipman said Saturday night.
Lipman was speaking at Jerusalem’s Great Synagogue, in a public interview with The Times of Israel’s founding editor David Horovitz, at an event marking The Times of Israel’s first anniversary.
A crowd of some 500 gathered to hear Lipman, the first American-born Knesset member in almost 30 years, who related why he entered politics and how he made it into parliament as the No. 17 on Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid list.
As a self-described moderate ultra-Orthodox rabbi, Lipman said his particular focus was on reversing what he called the skewing of authentic Orthodox Judaism in Israel whereby the norm in the community has become for young men to study full time rather than work. Going back to the biblical imperative that “six days you shall work,” Lipman quoted a succession of rabbinical sources highlighting the obligation for parents to provide for their families. Having others subsidize your Torah study runs contrary to Jewish tradition, Lipman said, adding that the “real heroes” of Torah study in Israel for him are those who manage to fit in their study on the way to and from work.
Lipman — who was interviewed at length in The Times of Israel last month — accused ultra-Orthodox political leaders of failing their community, and said some leaders from within the community have told him they believe Yesh Atid, with its insistence on bringing the ultra-Orthodox into the army and into the workforce, “will be the saviors” of the community, which simply cannot manage economically as things stand.
Lipman reiterated Yesh Atid’s commitment to electoral reform, noting that, in advance of any reform, the party has unilaterally “divided” Israel into constituencies, with each of its MKs made responsible for particular geographical areas, and available to help residents of those areas deal with local difficulties. Lipman’s own “constituency” area includes Jerusalem, his hometown Beit Shemesh and the Etzion bloc.
The 41-year-old father of four, who moved to Israel eight years ago from Maryland, made a speech in the Knesset last week urging US President Barack Obama to grant clemency to spy-for-Israel Jonathan Pollard. He did so, he said, despite being told, since entering the Knesset, that there were aspects of the Pollard case, not publicly known, that complicate the issue.
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