Rabbi Chaim Amsalem
Rabbi Chaim AmsalemFlash 90

The chairman of the Am Shalem movement, former Knesset Member Rabbi Chaim Amsalem, decided to resign from the Jewish Home Party and not to run for the party's primaries. Rabbi Amsalem began his political career in the haredi Shas party, but left to found his own movement due to disagreements on conversion, army and related issues. He claimed that the Shas party had abandoned traditional Sephardic tolerance, Zionism, and participation in the work force and was imitating the Ashkenazi haredi yeshiva world's ethos. The party he formed did not succeed in gaining a Knesset seat.

In a statement published by Rabbi Amsalem he said that about two years ago, after much hesitation, religious Zionist friends approached him and called on him to join the religious-Zionist party.

"We came with the intention of 'restoring the crown to its former glory' (changing the context of late Chief Rabbi Ovadia Yosef's expression for outreach to Sephardic non-observant Israelis to his own goals ed.), returning the Sephardim to the course from which they've strayed in recent years. Returning to the path of Zionism, Torah and IDF service as a sacred value, defining Jewish identity, moderation and tolerance, and other values we have been fighting for all these years,"Amsalem elaborated.

He explained why the connection to the Jewish Home party had failed."For our part, we tried to advance the ideas of our movement within the framework of the Jewish Home, but after two years we have realized that the possibility of working for our goals is only feasible within the framework of an independent party."

"I thought at the time that I and those like me who didn't grow up in the Israeli religious Zionist community could see it as a place where we belong , but we were disappointed, and we couldn't continue within the framework of the Jewish Home party," Rabbi Amsalem declared.

"We were treated with condescension, disregard, and a cold shoulder," he said."They didn't throw us out but they let us understand that we weren't wanted.At first we didn't grasp it, but in the end we understood and we are saying goodbye."