The Knesset’s synagogue would host its first ever Masorti egalitarian minyan if the Tzipi Livni Party wins the 13 seats necessary to elect New Jersey-born, North Carolina-raised Prof. Alon Tal in the January 22 election.

Besides heading the Green Movement and teaching environmental law at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Tal serves as gabai (sexton) of the Masorti Shalhevet Hamaccabim synagogue in Maccabim-Re’ut.

Former foreign minister Tzipi Livni appointed him Sunday to head her party’s campaign among immigrants from English- speaking countries and in its efforts to advance religious pluralism in Israel.

“I am thrilled to be in a party led by someone who understands that Jewish tradition can be manifested in more than just an Orthodox tradition, and that there is room for all expressions of religious affiliation in our country,” Tal said of Livni. “She considers herself Masorti and sent her son to the Conservative Movement’s Noam youth group. She had the opportunity to become prime minister, but she refused to capitulate to ultra-Orthodox blackmail.”

Tal promised to make the party’s voice heard when non- Orthodox Jews endure discrimination.

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He blamed Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s bond with haredi parties for recent high-profile incidents at the Western Wall.

“What happened Friday at the Western Wall, where women were arrested for putting on a tallit, is symptomatic of an unacceptable extremism,” Tal said. “The Netanyahu government turns a blind eye to this fanaticism, allowing politics to trump sanity.”

Informed that the last American- born Knesset member was Rabbi Meir Kahane of the far-right Kach Party, Tal said that ironically, he was responsible for Kahane’s file when he worked for the attorney-general.

He called Kahane a disgrace and promised to present a more positive view of what the Anglo community in Israel is like.

Born Albert Rosenthal, Tal holds a law degree from Hebrew University and a doctorate in environmental science and policy from Harvard University. He said he would hold parlor meetings to attract Anglo voters, as he did when the Green Movement ran with Meimad in the last general election.

“There is a large percentage of Anglos who haven’t decided who to vote for,” he said. “I believe we have a much stronger basis for attracting Anglos than our competition. If I get into the Knesset, I promise there will a hootenanny with my Arava Riders bluegrass band on July 4 to celebrate.”

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