Rabbinic Court in Jerusalem
Rabbinic Court in Jerusalem Israel news photo: Flash 90

The recent conflict between the Shas and Bayit Yehudi (Jewish Home) parties could impact Israel’s Jewish future, Yisrael Hayom reports. According to a source in the Bayit Yehudi party, the recent tensions are the result of competition as both parties vie for the Ministry of Religious Services.

The source said that Bayit Yehudi would prefer that Shas not be included in the coalition. “From our perspective it makes sense that Shas be out, and Yahadut Hatorah be in,” they said.

There were reports earlier this week that Bayit Yehudi had reached a pact with the Yesh Atid party. Yesh Atid seeks to require hareidi-religious men to enlist in the IDF rather than receiving a deferral for Torah learning, a platform point that Shas and Yahadut Hatorah reject. Bayit Yehudi, which naturally sees Torah learning as the foundation of the state and says so, wishes to reach an agreed-upon change in hareidi draft that is not coercive.

Bayit Yehudi has openly said that it wants to bring change to the Rabbinate, the state religious organization responsible for marriages, conversions and other elements of Jewish life supervised by the government. The party wants to see the Rabbinate revamped to make it more accessible, and more relevant, to non-orthodox Jews. New Chief Rabbis are to be chosen in June.

In addition to overseeing the Rabbinate and courts of Jewish law, the Ministry of Religious Services is responsible for oversight of marriages, funerals, and the administration of public religious services such as mikvaot (ritual baths).

Shas has expressed concern that the change proposed would mean violations of halakha (Jewish law). During the elections campaign the party aired a controversial ad showing a woman obtaining a conversion to Judaism via fax, in an attempt to portray Shas as the party that will ensure the state upholds traditional Judaism.