Yair Lapid 370.
(photo credit: Ricardo Mallaco)
Yesh Atid party leader Yaid Lapid announced on Sunday Rabbi Shai Piron as the party's number two on the list for Knesset elections.
Piron is the head of Petah Tikva Yeshivas, which includes a hesder yeshiva and a high school, and director-general of Hakol Hinuch, the Movement for the Advancement of Education in Israel, and a founder of the religious-Zionist organization Tzohar.
Piron has been rumored for some time as the party's potential number two and filling its top "religious" position on the list.
Some have characterized Lapid as anti-religious, as his father Tommy Lapid, formerly head of Shinui party, had been characterized.
Tommy Lapid had been considered anti-religious both because of his almost single-minded focus on the separation of religion and state and the unqualified harsh public tone he took with regard to the Haredi community on certain religion and state issues.
The appointment of a prominent religious-zionist rabbi atop Lapid's list appears to be the culmination of his regular efforts to remove this stigma and make his party more marketable nationally, including to the religious.
At the press conference, Lapid welcomed Piron, saying that the reason that the two had joined forces was "because we both believe we can and should stop the dangerous process of splitting society into tribes and groups, each of which says to himself, 'I care only for myself and my group, and I have no obligation to others.'"
The Yesh Atid party leader added that both he and Piron "share the same concern that the old-style Israeli politics" has caused regression to the point where splitting society into self-focused groups has come to characterize politicians' "overall approach" to their jobs.
Taking an implied swipe at those holding up integration of Haredim into the work force and the IDF, he said that Yesh Atid stands for "the middle class, religious and secular, the best people, who serve and work, pay their taxes" and can't make ends meet.
Lapid also said that he and Piron believe that education is "the most important key for the future of Israeli society," and recognized Piron for moving forward educational initiatives which did not just emphasize quantitative "accomplishments" but also "values."
Piron said, "It's time to stop using hatred and polarization." It is crucial to move away from politicians who are using hate as the source of their political power and to start talking "about the future of not only what happens to me, but about what kind of a country will our children and future generations live in," he said.
Piron went into detail in critiquing the "collapsing" education system, stating that the government can no longer fund semi-separate school systems which ignore the core courses of the education system and which are destroying "everyone's future" in the state of Israel.
He also said that society must unite together to end the situation where children growing up in the poorer sectors of society feel that they are trapped and unable to raise their socio-economic position or try to get higher paying jobs.
Sunday night, Lapid was due to visit Beit Shemesh, where he was planning on meaning a number of groups, including the Woman's Forum. The visit was partially organized by Rabbi Dov Lippman, a Haredi member of Yesh Atid who has also been rumored as a potential higher-level candidate on the party's list.