Despite the angry rhetoric from both camps over the past several days – fanned by the media – and the resentment felt in the Bayit Yehudi (Jewish Home) ranks about the insulting Shas campaign, MKs from the religious-Zionst Jewish Home are seeking ways to build bridges with members of the hareidi-religious Shas movement.
Speaking to Arutz Sheva Tuesday at his first-grade daughter's siddur party in the Noam religious school in Jerusalem, newly-sworn-in Bayit Yehudi MK Yoni Chetboun said that MKs from both parties had met earlier Tuesday, and had ended up shaking hands after ten minutes. Both sides hope to work to build bridges with their constituents on the religious issues common to both parties.
With that, some leaders of the National Religious community expect Shas to apologize for the insults it levied at Jewish Home during the elections. Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, Rabbi of Tzfat, told Galei Yisrael Radio Tuesday, "I have a problem with Shas. I have a problem with the statements made before the elections. I really feel hurt. We will not move towards them unless one of them finds an opportunity to say they regret those words. One cannot talk about any kind of brotherly love and unity of a single bloc, when these are the words."
In a radio interview Monday, MK Uri Orbach expressed dismay at Shas' portrayal of Jewish Home during the campaign. “We are not advocates of 'automatic drafts' or 'automatic conversions,'” Orbach said, referring to a Shas television commercial during the election campaign that portrayed a non-Jewish Russian woman getting a conversion certificate by fax as she stood with her husband-to-be under the synagogue wedding canopy. “We are not here as 'second-best' to Shas.”
Party leader Naftali Bennett, meanwhile, took a conciliatory tone to the issue, in line with most religious Zionist rabbis. In a speech Monday night, Bennett expressed his support for the yeshivas, and stressed that the party appreciated the importance of Torah study – including in hareidi yeshivas. “I want to say this clearly,” he said. “We will work on behalf of the entire Torah world, not just that of religious Zionist institutions. We will not allow the Torah world to be damaged. The hareidim are our brothers, not our enemies.”