Jerusalem Report

Secular Talmudist

Rookie MK Ruth Calderon hopes to set an example of how secularists and Haredim can engage one another respectfully

Photo by: Marc Israel Sellem
While Haredi Jews shout and spit at secularists, while secularists abandon Israeli towns for being “too ultra-Orthodox,” a softspoken, secular Talmudic scholar hopes to use her new, powerful platform as a Knesset Member to begin a revolution – one that would offer secularists a chance to dislodge the Haredim from their near-total monopoly on Judaism.

Should Ruth Calderon succeed – or even make strong inroads toward reaching her goal – she will be undoing a status quo arrangement between ultra-Orthodox and secularists in Israel dating back to the founding of the state. Increasingly, secularists like Calderon are dismayed at the burden they must carry as part of that status quo, allowing thousands of ultra-Orthodox to study Torah instead of joining the Israel Defense Forces or entering the work force.

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