Wednesday, May 09, 2018

Dov Lipman - His Resignation and His Observations

Former MK, Dov Lipman (Times of Israel)
I was sorry to hear the news. It appears that Dov Lipman will no longer have the opportunity to serve in the Knessset. He is no longer a member of Yair Lapid’s political party, Yesh Atid.

He was number 17 on their list. Which means that if their party received enough votes to capture 17 seats in the Knesset, he would be an MK - a member of that legislative body. That’s what happened the first time Yesh Atid ran. But two years later when new elections were called, they only won 11 seats. So Dov – as number 17 - was out.

Yesh Atid’s popularity has however increased since then. According to the last poll I saw, it is now even greater that it was the first time they ran – thus all but guaranteeing Dov a seat in the next Knesset.  And with the Prime Minister currently embroiled in a corruption investigation, the possibility of early elections is more than possible. But, alas, for Dov, that doesn’t matter anymore.

I have no clue why he is out. He said he resigned for personal reasons. But that is contradicted by an official of Yesh Atid who said they dropped him and that the decision was not mutual. That is a troubling contradiction. I don’t know what to think here… but I am not going to speculate. 

Dov’s voice of moderation in the Charedi world is a needed one that will now have a smaller platform. His values are those of the moderate American Charedi. Which was reflected in the kinds of things he supported. Which among other things included: emphasizing the importance of a decent secular education; limiting the number of exemptions Charedim get from army or national  service; showing respect for those that serve; showing honor to fallen soldiers;  and having gratitude to the government for the help they provide to their Yeshivos and their families.

Unfortunately this has earned him condemnation from the Charedi  leadership. They have  virtually stripped away his Charedi credentials with a ‘No true Scotsman’ argument. They consider his association with Yair Lapid tantamount to consorting with the devil – and the above mentioned positions to which they are opposed be the fruit of that association. They must be thrilled with this development. One less thorn in their side ‘masquerading’ as a Charedi.

Its impossible to know whether Dov had any impact on how the Charedi world is currently evolving. But they are - in exactly the direction Dov has advocated for. In a Times of Israel article, Dov provides a number of examples.  All of which are welcome. They include a Chasidic Yeshiva in Beitar (one of the most Charedi cities in Israel) that offers a decent secular studies program while maintaining a high level of Torah study; a memorial day service honoring fallen soldiers;  More Charedim than ever are joining the IDF, There is even a new Charedi Hesder yeshiva – a joint program where boys can study Torah while fulfilling their military service obligation. Once can see videos of these phenomena in the article. 

Here is how Dov put it:  
Something is happening throughout Israel’s ultra-Orthodox community: an awakening desire among the younger generation to balance the holy value of being fervently religious and studying Torah on the highest of levels, while at the same time integrating into Israeli society and being able to support their families with dignity. 
He calls this the ‘Haredi Spring’. It is indeed a quiet revolution of sorts. Which he says will take a generation or 2 to fully take hold as a mainstream option. What may eventually happen in Israel is what is already happening in the Charedi world in America. And in some ways perhaps even surpass it:   
Thanks to the Ultra-Orthodox Spring, we are only a generation or two away from seeing an Israel filled with Haredi doctors, lawyers, accountants, hi-tech entrepreneurs — and even army generals. The impact of this quiet revolution will be felt economically across Israeli society, helping the country’s significant and fastest-growing population move from living below the poverty line to supporting itself, instead of relying on state funds for its survival. 
I hope he’s right. I hope that more schools like this open and attract a lot more Charedim. That will produce the kind of Moderate Charedi that cannot only continue thrive as a Charedi but thrive as a productive citizen of Israel as well. That will dramatically change how Charedim are perceived and can only have a positive impact on Israel’s secular citizens as they become more integrated into Israeli society.

I just hope that this phenomenon is not fought by the Charedi leadership. My gut feeling is that they will let it happen. At least those leaders that are not part of the extremist camp. Then Charedim can have it all. A society where the Charedi value of full time Torah study can be pursued where there will be an option to pursue a dual study program which will  enable many of them to be better prepared for the workplace. And military service will be seen in a positive light rather than a negative one. It appears that the Charedi world is going in that direction.

They only question is will resistance arise from the more extreme Charedi leadership; how strong will it be; and will it impede progress. Time will tell.