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Non-hassidic haredi leaders look to political unity

January 17, 2013 03:08

A long-running political saga in the non-hassidic haredi world was set to be resolved with Rabbi Shmuel Auerbach set to endorse UTJ.

Haredi men in Jerusalem

Haredi men in Jerusalem 370. (photo credit:Marc Israel Sellem / The Jerusalem Post)

A long-running political saga in the non-hassidic haredi world was set to be resolved on Wednesday night, with Rabbi Shmuel Auerbach set to endorse the United Torah Judaism electoral ticket despite a months-long feud with the party’s spiritual leadership.

According to a UTJ official, Auerbach was to publish a declaration in the major haredi daily newspapers on Thursday morning calling for the haredi community to vote UTJ.

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Auerbach was nudged aside in a power struggle for leadership of the non-hassidic, or “Lithuanian,” haredi community last year by Rabbi Aharon Leib Shteinman, who was ultimately acknowledged as the “leader of the generation” by other senior haredi rabbis.

Despite this, Auerbach and his supporters led something of an insurgency against Shteinman, and established their own newspaper and political party, Netzach, in competition with Degel Hatorah, the non-hassidic party of the UTJ Judaism Knesset faction.

Auerbach’s supporters in Netzach had been threatening to run in the upcoming election to compete with UTJ for the traditional haredi vote.

The about-turn by Auerbach appears to be a promise by Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman to the rabbi that he would be consulted regarding any proposals relating to the enlistment of haredi men into national service.

The haredi news website Kikar Hashabbat reported that Auerbach’s hard-core supporters were still unlikely to vote for UTJ and that the simmering dispute with the community would linger on.
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