Of all the candidates to join the Jewish Home primary race, Ayelet Shaked has perhaps been the most controversial. Shaked identifies as secular, while the Jewish Home party (formerly the National Religious Party) is religious-Zionist.
In an interview with Arutz Sheva, Shaked rejected criticism of her candidacy and said that as a secular MK she would be uniquely able to boost the religious-Zionist political world. She said she plans to serve as a bridge between the religious-Zionist community and secular and traditional Israeli society.
One matter Shaked said she would promote, as a secular woman, is the inclusion of religious-Zionist rabbis in the Rabbinate. That, of course, is the goal of all the religious Zionist Mk's as well. “We must put the [state] religious services back in the hands of religious Zionists,” she declared. “Shas’ takeover of these services hurts the secular and traditional Israelis who seek to get closer to religion.”
On all major religious issues, she said, she agrees with Rabbi Avichai Ronsky, also a Jewish Home candidate. “Before I decided to run in the Jewish Home primaries I sat down with Rabbi Ronsky and we discussed all kinds of matters: the Sabbath, marriage, conversion, etc. There were no differences of opinion.”
“When it comes to matters of state and religion, I plan to stick to the religious Zionist stance and to advise with Rabbi Ronsky as a spiritual guide,” she added.
Shaked’s opponents have said that a religious Zionist woman in the Knesset fills a special role, over and above political issues. Since there has not been a woman from a religious Zionist party in the Knesset for several years, they believe religious-Zionist women deserve a religious woman MK to lead them in the many issues that a Torah-true and Torah-knowlegeable woman can best advance - the Jewish family or the issue of agunot, for example. The revolution in orthodox women's Torah learning makes that kind of candidate a possibility.
There are competing religious Zionist women, one of whom served in the Knesset and another who was on the Bayit Hayehudi list in the last election. Shaked said the argument is understandable, “but", she feels, "the discussion is led by my opponents for political reasons.”
She called on the party to look outward in the spirit of the approaching holiday of Sukkot. “Now we are leaving our homes for the sukkah, everyone leaves his four physical walls and goes out to a temporary sukkah like the rest of Israel,” she said. “I hope that this year we have the wisdom to leave our constraints and bring the Jewish Home to new sectors of the Jewish people.”
Shaked, 36, is married to a combat pilot and has two children. She lives in the upscale Bavli neighborhood of Tel Aviv. She served as then-Opposition head Binyamin Netanyahu’s office manager, and during her years there met fellow Jewish Home candidate Naftali Bennet, with whom she established the Zionist movement Yisrael Sheli in 2010.