Meimad opens ranks to non-religious

Party intends to transform itself, adress issues crossing ethnic, socioeconomic, religious divides.

By GIL STERN STERN HOFFMAN
October 9, 2007 00:46
1 minute read.
Meimad opens ranks to non-religious

melchior 224.88 aj. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)

 
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The Meimad Party's council decided late Sunday night to seek members and supporters beyond its traditional focus on moderate religious-Zionists. Meimad's chairman, MK Rabbi Michael Melchior, said the party had not decided yet whether to run with Labor in the next election as it has in the previous three, but would work to substantially expand its ranks. "We want to be a home for anyone in Israeli society who wants to build a pluralistic Jewish society based on Jewish ethics and values," Melchior said. "There are a lot of people who feel they have no political home today who believe in what Meimad believes in. I think this has the potential to be very significant." The National Religious Party also decided to allow non-religious people to join the party last year, but Meimad intends to go much further and transform itself into a party that can appeal to voters across ethnic, socioeconomic, religious and political divides. Melchior first tried to reach out to secular voters in November 2004 when he formed Tnufa, a social action movement that aimed to restore welfare, education and health issues to the national agenda. But plans to turn Tnufa into a party were shelved after socioeconomically-minded Amir Peretz became Labor leader. Many prominent social activists joined Tnufa, including former Meretz MK Ilan Gilon, former Beit Hanassi director-general Aryeh Shumer and Tami Molad-Hayou, the former coordinator for the Headquarters of the Joint Struggle of the Social Organizations. Meimad, which is a Hebrew acronym for "Jewish State, Democratic State," was founded in 1988 by Har Etzion Yeshiva head Rabbi Yehuda Amital. The movement aims to transform the face of religious Zionism and distance it from religious and political extremism.

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