Can haredim elect an Orthodox woman mayor in Beit Shemesh?

“I have backing not only from English speakers and modern haredim, but also from Hassidim, Lithuanian and Sephardi haredim, who just want the city to be run better.”

October 4, 2018 20:25
1 minute read.
Aliza Bloch

Aliza Bloch 370. (photo credit: Courtesy)


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Recent divides among the haredi (ultra-Orthodox) leadership could catapult a religious Zionist woman to the mayor’s office in increasingly haredi Beit Shemesh, political analysts in the city said Thursday.

School principal Aliza Bloch, who is backed by Likud, Bayit Yehudi, Labor and Kulanu, is challenging incumbent Shas Mayor Moshe Abutbul. Her advisers said she only needs 10% to 12% support of the haredim in the city to win and that she will win much more.

“I have been embraced by the haredi community,” Bloch said. “I have backing not only from English speakers and modern haredim, but also from Hassidim, Lithuanian and Sephardi haredim, who just want the city to be run better.”

The analysts said Bloch could benefit from the dispute between the Hassidic Agudat Yisrael and Lithuanian Degel Hatorah parties in Jerusalem and other cities around the country. In Jerusalem, United Torah Judaism has split into two, while the two parties have endorsed rival candidates for mayor.

Deputy Education Minister Meir Porush of Agudat Yisrael is especially angry at Degel Hatorah for not endorsing his former aide Yossi Daitch for Jerusalem mayor and his son Yisroel Porush for reelection as mayor of Elad. While so far haredim have only quietly endorsed Bloch, her advisers said Porush could end up publicly backing her.

“People in Aguda are saying backing Bloch is no different than Degel and Shas supporting Moshe Lion, who like Bloch is religious but not haredi and running against a haredi candidate,” a source close to Bloch said.

There are four haredim on Bloch’s list and she also believes being a woman can help her gain the support of female haredi voters. But Bloch has purposely emphasized that the election is not haredi vs non-haredi, but who could better lift a city whose socioeconomic level fell to the lowest in the country and allocates less per resident than Um-El-Fahm.

“Why should haredim learn in caravans?,” she asked. “Why don’t they have places to work here? Why must haredim suffer from improper management? Haredim, like religious and secular residents of Beit Shemesh, just want to live better.”

Shas officials responded that Abutbul will be re-elected.

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