“Others bring [budget] cuts (kitzusim
), Shas brings (ketzizot
) meatballs,” joked
Shas spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef on Saturday night in front of 3,000
devotees in Jerusalem, punning on the Hebrew translation of the
Approximately 3,000 Shas activists, supporters and party
officials crammed into the International Convention Center in Jerusalem to hear
the rabbi’s words, delivered at the climax of what was billed as the party’s
launching event for the January elections.
After several warm-up speeches
from the three other rabbis comprising Shas’s Council of Torah Sages, Yosef gave
his weekly Torah lesson from the stage. Then he addressed the upcoming elections
and Shas’s campaign.
“Shas was established only to bring people closer to
Torah,” said Yosef, “to bring back to the heritage of Israel, to strengthen
Jewish tradition and to prevent assimilation.”
He praised the new
three-pronged leadership of the political party, saying that they would help
strengthen the party and prevent assimilation.
The rabbi also lauded
Shas’s credentials as a party representing the weaker sectors of
“When there are poor people, one has to help them,” he said,
adding that anyone who gives charity to the poor will be assured of money
Before Yosef spoke, the new joint political leadership of Shas
consisting of Ariel Attias, Arye Deri and Eli Yishai walked out onto the stage
together, and were received rapturously by the assembled crowd.
other rabbis on the Shas council – Shimon Baadani, Shalom Cohen, and Moshe Maya
– also spoke at the gathering, focusing their speeches on Torah lessons and
challenges facing the Jewish people.
“The central message of this
assembly is unity around Shas’s central goal of ‘restoring the crown to its
former glory,’ turning our attention to social matters and preserving the Jewish
character of the State of Israel,” the movement said, ahead of the
The party said that since the unity agreement was announced three
weeks ago, thousands of people had wanted to hear Yosef’s Torah lesson, so it
was decided to stage it at the International Convention Center.