Article Library / Structured Jewish World Dialogue

The Growth of the Haredi Communities in the Diaspora

Similar processes occurred in Israel, perhaps in an even more pronounced fashion. After WWII, strictly Orthodox Holocaust survivors built the Haredi community upon an initial foundation laid by the Old Yishuv. Their alienation from Zionism and the exemption from military service enjoyed by some of them, reinforced their exclusivist tendencies.13 This pattern, which persisted until the 1990s, started to be changed by Shas, the Sephardic Haredi movement. Shas adopted the inclusive mode of “church.”14 It took under its wing all the Sephardim whether Orthodox or traditional or criminal or whatever. It also entered the government, becoming ministers and “taking responsibility for everyone.” The Shas approach rested on the assumption that the great mass of ordinary Jews in Israel, and especially the Mizrachim, were basically loyal to the tradition and not anti-religious in any principled fashion. Thus, R. Ovadia Yosef could afford to be lenient in his rulings and Shas inclusive in its attitude toward them. Eventually, this approach seems to have been taken, to a certain degree and without fanfare also by the Ashkenazim. While Yaakov Litzman is formally the Deputy Minister of Health, he clearly takes responsibility for the entire health system and even participates in cabinet meetings. It is possible that here too, Litzman, Agudat Yisrael and Yahadut HaTorah are influenced by the fact that the Israeli public has become more traditional and right wing (Rosner and Fuchs 2018) and that a majority of voters for most of the last decade supported parties which enabled a coalition of right wing, religious and haredi parties to forge the government coalition.” (That is, until the 2019 elections).

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