Habayit Hayehudi will end up with more than 30,000 members after its registration drive that ends on Sunday night, the party’s election committee chairman, Rabbi Daniel Tropper, said in an interview at his Jerusalem office on Wednesday.

Tropper has been legally barred from revealing how many people have already submitted paper forms to join the party, but he said 12,000 people have joined the party online. He expressed confidence that the 28,000 paid members required to break even in covering the cost of the drive will be easily achieved, with the bulk of the membership forms to be submitted on the drive’s final days.

“The boxes are starting to come in,” Tropper said. “On Sunday I predict a tremendous load. I think the drive is very honest as a whole, but we’ll always have a certain percentage of foilishtik [monkey business].

Sunday at midnight, the registration ends and the primary begins.”

Tropper claims credit for the decision to initiate the first ever primary and membership drive in a religious-Zionist party, which in the past all chose their leadership and Knesset candidates list in central committees and smaller internal party forums. To minimize corruption, he recommended prohibiting paying membership fees in cash.

The membership drive and the primary have been credited with reinvigorating the party, which fell from 12 seats at its peak (in 1959-65, 1969-74 and 1977-81 when it was called the National Religious Party) to only three in the 2009 election.

It persuaded well-know religious-Zionist figures to run for Knesset, which they could not have done when the list was decided behind closed doors.

“The primary succeeded in igniting the young people,” he said. “Reserving slots on the list for a young person and a woman also created a tremendous stir. What was supposed to be technical ended up in the reawakening of the religious Zionist world. Young people had lost interest in the NRP and went in all kinds of directions and now I think we could get 10 seats.”

Tropper knows that after the November 6 three-way leadership race, he will face another task: keeping the two candidates who lost the contest – and the thousands of members they registered – in the party.

“I want it to be like US elections, where the loser supports the leader,” the New York native said. “I will do my best to create the best possible list to attract voters. For that, we need unity and diversity, and I think we will have that.”

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