Founder’s daughter to stick with Shas, nixing Knesset bid

Adina Bar-Shalom, whose late father Ovadia Yosef was party’s spiritual leader, to ‘influence from inside’ with women’s council

Marissa Newman is The Times of Israel political correspondent.

Aryeh Deri, right, and Adina Bar Shalom speaking at a Shas party press conference in Jerusalem, December 14, 2014. (Screen capture: Channel 2)
Aryeh Deri, right, and Adina Bar Shalom speaking at a Shas party press conference in Jerusalem, December 14, 2014. (Screen capture: Channel 2)

The daughter of late Rabbi Ovadia Yosef ended speculation that she would split from the ultra-Orthodox party her father helped found to run for the Knesset, announcing Sunday that she would instead form a council for the advancement of ultra-Orthodox women within Shas.

In a press conference with party head Aryeh Deri, Adina Bar-Shalom said she turned down several offers to join various political parties as a Knesset member in favor of staying in her father’s political camp in a backstage role.

Deri’s wife, Yaffa Deri, and Bar-Shalom will advise the political party on issues pertaining to the advancement of women in academia, and professional integration. However, she will not be able to compete for a spot on the party’s Knesset slate, which is reserved for men.

“I chose the hard way — to stay in the political home my father established 30 years ago, and to influence from inside,” she said. Yosef served as the spiritual leader of the party until his death in October 2013.

During the conference, Deri said he had tried to keep MK Eli Yishai within the party’s fold, following reports that the former party head intends to resign from the ultra-Orthodox party and form a new political faction within the coming weeks.

Deri said that he offered Yishai the No. 2 slot on the party list, and the position of minister, should they join the future coalition, but the long-time Shas member refused.

“I did everything for unity,” Deri said, adding that the crisis was being handled by the Shas Council of Torah Sages.

In an apparent reference to Yishai, Bar-Shalom appealed to those continuing her father’s legacy to “ignore all personal considerations, and put the ego aside.”

Bar-Shalom is the founder of the Haredi College of Jerusalem, an institution of higher learning tailored for the ultra-Orthodox population, and a recipient of the prestigious Israel Prize. The establishment of the school was backed by Rabbi Ovadia Yosef.

Bar-Shalom’s announcement comes as a blow to ultra-Orthodox Jewish women in Israel, who began an unprecedented campaign earlier this month to have female candidates on the lists of religious parties for next March’s general election.

However, the leaders of the parties in question are not expected to agree to the demand.

AFP contributed to this report.

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