Bar Shalom and Deri at Shas Women's Council opening
Bar Shalom and Deri at Shas Women's Council openingFlash 90

The Achi Yisraeli party, the new party of Shas spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef zt"l, Rabbanit Adina Bar Shalom's daughter is currently commencing operations.

On the significance of the move for the Shas Party, chunks of which resign once every few years, Arutz Sheva spoke to Hadassah Academic College Department of Politics and Media's Asher Susan.

"Since the death of Rabbi Ovadia, the subterranean rocking in Shas began to float to the surface. The tension between Aryeh Deri and Eli Yishai split Shas when Yachad was founded. Adina Bar-Shalom didn't spare Deri heavy criticism, especially after he refused to save the haredi college she founded. Her party's establishment adds another layer to Shas' disintegration on the political and social levels, "says Susan.

"Beyond this issue of Shas as a deconstruction and mirror of Sephardic haredi Judaism since the death of Rabbi Ovadia, this is a matter of the entire haredi public, and the phenomenon of haredi feminism that we've seen in the last two campaigns with various initiatives of haredi women demanding female political representation in the existing haredi parties. The organizations didn't succeed in making significant achievements. They weren't included in the haredi Knesset lists. Bizchutan, a party that ran alone, received only 1,800 votes, but the haredi and general discourse that was created raised significant voices. The haredi public objected, of course, but Adina Bar Shalom presents another feminist message.

"It is indeed an all-Israeli party that brings the Mayor of Yeruham as a secular person, and he wants to turn to the poorer segments and the traditionals, but there's still news here." As for the party's chances, Susan is doubtful: "Will the party pass the threshold? Probably not. The Right and Center compete for the poor vote, but the fact that a haredi woman is setting up a party from a world with her father's influence is new and represents change, and is another layer in haredi feminism seen in recent years."

As for the ongoing damage to Shas, Susan notes the damage was also reflected in polls, some of which do not show the party crossing the electoral threshold, and all the splits add up. This is in addition to the fact that "there's disagreement regarding Torah authority. The person of Rabbi Shalom Cohen, who was set up as Shas spiritual leader by Deri, is not acceptable to everyone, and Bar Shalom's party is another nail that will hurt the image of Shas because she comes from a family of haredi Sephardi nobility. She expresses clear distrust of the party. It should be recalled that the previous time when a haredi feminist voice sought to be represented, Shas's response was an attempt to establish a women's council in Shas headed by Adina Bar Shalom and Yaffa Deri. They tried to do so, but Shas is a Lithuanian product, and Rabbi Shach was the party's first spiritual patron, and Aryeh Deri has significant Lithuanian influences."

Asked whether Bar Shalom would have been wrong to join up with a figure like MK Orly Levy, in response to the traditional and peripheral message of them both, he replied "at the political level this may have been more true to her, but in politics each has its own interests and desires. Maybe it'll happen before the elections themselves when they see their situation in the polls. At the moment elections are still far away."