The city council elections in Tel Aviv have led to an unusual display of unity across the religious spectrum, with Israel’s two major hareidi-religious parties – Shas and Yahadut Hatorah (United Torah Judaism) – uniting not only with each other, but also with the religious-Zionist faction Bayit Yehudi (Jewish Home).
The Chabad Chassidic movement has thrown its support behind the joint list as well. The list has been dubbed Shagav, an acronym for the parties’ names.
Candidate Tzvi Yehuda Dickstein, who is second on the Bayit Yehudi list, spoke to Arutz Sheva about the shared list.
“This is a group of people who work together during the year, people who care about Judaism, about Jewish values and identity in Tel Aviv. We have the same essential goal, and we managed to create unity,” he explained.
The highly publicized tension between Bayit Yehudi and the hareidi parties since national elections when hareidi parties were not included in the government coalition, made the first steps toward unity difficult, Dickstein said, but added, "party activists managed to overcome that.”
Dickstein has been living in Tel Aviv for five years as part of a “Garin Torani” (lit. “Torah seed group”), a group of religious-Zionist families interested in boosting a specific neighborhood. That experience motivated him to run for city hall, he said.
“We’ve matured, and we realize now that in order to have an impact, we need to be where the decisions are made,” he explained. If he is elected, he said, he plans to focus on maintaining Jewish institutions in the city, with a focus on education.
“We’ll open a quality school system. There’s currently a tremendous shortage of religious-Zionist preschools. We’ll fight against the closure of one of the youth groups, and help develop young communities and synagogues, and we’ll encourage initiatives to teach Judaism,” he said.
“When it comes to the city laws about things like public transportation on the Sabbath or chametz on Passover, our agenda is that we are a law-abiding party, and we need to keep the laws of the State of Israel,” he added.