Daily Israel Report

Minister Saar Begins to Observe Sabbath

The minister, who was reputed to lead a boisterous lifestyle, is moving closer to Judaism.
By Gil Ronen
First Publish: 6/18/2014, 9:23 AM

Gideon Saar
Gideon Saar
Flash 90

Interior Minister Gideon Saar has begun to observe the Sabbath and attend Torah lessons, reports the news website Mako after speaking to sources close to Saar.

According to the report, Minister Saar cannot be said to be “making tshuva” – becoming religiously observant or adopting a religious lifestyle – at this point, but he does observe the Sabbath, at least in the sense that he does not drive on Sabbath and does not answer telephone calls except after the stars come out on motzei Shabbat, marking the end of the sacred day.

He has also begun to attend Torah lessons “occasionally.”

Sources close to the minister and his wife, star news presenter Geula Even, said that the change in the couple's life took place on the day in which they held the brit ceremony for their first son, David. The event, in which Saar served as sandak (“godfather”) appears to have brought about a dramatic spiritual change in Saar that led him to change his lifestyle.

The development is particularly remarkable because Saar was well-known in the past for leading a boisterous and licentious lifestyle. Even as minister, he used to attend dance parties and often serve as DJ there.

Saar, along with Minister Gilad Erdan, was in charge of the Likud's disastrous election propaganda campaign in the 2013 national election. The campaign was an all-out attack on the Jewish Home for its insistence on Jewish family values, and its main focus was an exclusive interview in late 2012, in which Rabbi Eliyahu Ben Dahan told Arutz Sheva that he would favor replacing the Knesset's current Committee for Advancement of Women's Status and Committee for Children's Rights with a unified Committee for the Family.

The campaign was widely seen as causing severe damage to Likud itself and to the entire nationalist camp, which almost lost its majority in the Knesset. Experts estimated that while the attacks on Jewish family values cost the Jewish Home 6-7 Knesset seats compared to previous polling, they also cost Likud 4-5 seats, many of which came from the votes of young Israelis, and most of which went to Yesh Atid. 

For many years, Saar has been considered very close to powerful figures in the Israeli genderist establishment, including MK Shelly Yechimovich (Labor), former Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch and Supreme Court Justice Edna Arbel. He served as assistant to both Beinisch and Arbel and was the only man ever trusted enough by the genderist establishment to be allowed to head the Committee for for Advancement of Women's Status.

Saar has two daughters from his first marriage.