Who will be in charge of the Ministry of Religious Affairs has become the last major sticking point for Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, as he races to beat his final deadline for forming a government later this week. While it appears that Shas head Aryeh Deri will be running that ministry, Jewish Home wants a say in how government religious policy is run, with Deputy Minister Rabbi Eli Ben-Dahan remaining at his position.
Deri is having none of it. Speaking earlier Sunday he said that just as Shas will not have a deputy minister in the Education Ministry, which Jewish Home head Naftali Bennett will be running, Jewish Home should not have a representative in “his” ministry. “Just like, I am sure, they will be watching out for all the children of Israel, we, too, will watch our for all institutions,” Deri said earlier Sunday.
That was besides the point, Rabbi Ben-Dahan said at a Torah dedication ceremony Sunday. The Torah was donated by a couple who used money they had saved for years in their education sabbatical fund, a savings program many Israelis participate in.
Speaking at the event, Rabbi Ben-Dahan said that “it is the responsibility of all Israelis to understand the importance of providing religious services for everyone. Those services must be provided to all people, not just a small segment of the population. Jewish Home will continue to demand that religious services be provided to everyone. It is not about the 'job,' but about the way those services are provided.”
According to sources, substantial progress has been made in dividing the responsibilities for religious services in a manner that is likely to satisfy the needs of both parties.