The Am Shalem Party of maverick Shas MK Haim Amsalem will no longer make a specific effort to pursue the votes of immigrants from Englishspeaking countries, choosing instead to focus on Sephardi Israelis.
Maryland-born Rabbi Dov Lipman, a Beit Shemesh-based community activist and educator who ran the party’s Anglo campaign, will leave Am Shalem and pursue other opportunities.
Lipman had intended to pursue a Knesset seat with the party.
Out of the 11 Knesset seats Shas won in the last election, only three came from haredi voters, while the other eight came from Sephardim who see themselves as traditional or even secular. Amsalem said he believes Shas has only served its smaller haredi electorate while ignoring the majority of its voters.
“Rabbi Amsalem has made the strategic – not ideological – decision to focus his efforts exclusively on the Sephardic population, which Shas has ceased to represent,” Lipman said.
“This population needs representation and Rabbi Amsalem can provide them with that. I certainly recognize the needs of that population and wish Rabbi Amsalem well in seeking to create an alternative for them.”
“In my opinion, all residents of Israel will benefit when this alternative to Shas is established and Shas is weakened,” he added.
Lipman said he joined Am Shalem to focus his energies on the broader vision of all the populations working together, and when the party chose a different direction, he decided to move on to other pursuits. He is exploring numerous ideas and opportunities to contribute to Israel and the broader Jewish world – including forming a new organization or joining an existing party, he said.
“I didn’t set out to run for Knesset,” Lipman said. “What mattered to me was the cause.”
As head of Anglos for Am Shalem, Lipman built up a mailing list of 4,300 people and traveled with Amsalem to the United States to spread his ideals of a Judaism that welcomes converts and treats all Jews with respect.
“For the last year and a half I have had the privilege to work with a true hero with remarkable courage, Rabbi Amsalem, and his Am Shalem movement,” he said. “I got involved with Am Shalem because I believed in its vision of uniting all Jews – haredi, religious Zionist, traditional, secular, men, women, Ethiopian immigrants, Russian immigrants, French immigrants and English speaking immigrants – to work together in one movement to create a better Israel...
an Israel without religious extremism, without religious coercion, and based on an embracing, moderate Judaism.”
“We made remarkable progress and I have been inspired to see the numbers of Jews in Israel and throughout the world who support this mission and vision,” said Lipman.