The Jewish character of the State of Israel is under unprecedented attack, haredi (ultra-Orthodox) political and rabbinic leaders said Tuesday morning. They urged their constituents to vote to defeat “the haters of religion.”
Both parties ended in roughly the same place they started: Shas had nine seats in the outgoing Knesset; United Torah Judaism had seven. In early exit polls, Shas had nine and seven seats in the polls of channels 11 and 12, and Channel 13, respectively. UTJ had seven in the polls of channels 11 and 13 and six in Channel 12.
Shas chairman Arye Deri kicked off Election Day by praying at the graveside of Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, the late revered spiritual leader of Shas.
“UTJ and all the sacred things of Israel are in the balance,” he said.
“I call on everyone to go and vote in accordance with the instructions of the great rabbis of this generation,” Litzman said. “The time has come to decide. To vote for UTJ is an obligation on the day of decision, because we will be victorious over the incitement and hatred of the haters of religion.”
Photos of senior rabbis voting Tuesday morning were disseminated to urge haredim to vote for haredi parties.
Aides to Rabbi Gershon Edelstein, one of the two most senior rabbinic leaders in the Ashkenazi, non-hassidic haredi community, released his schedule for Election Day, which they called a “Day of Judgment.”
Edelstein, 97, prayed Shacharit at 7:15 a.m. and then left to vote “to demonstrate in public the sanctification of God’s name.”
He was accompanied by dozens, maybe hundreds, of yeshiva students who sang and danced as he made his way to the polling station.
“Our great rabbi, master and yeshiva dean Rabbi Gershon Edelstein just voted,” UTJ said in a campaign ad. “What about you?”
Great footage of senior ultra-Orthodox leader Rabbi Gershon Edelstein, 97, accompanied by his yeshiva students to the ballot box this morning... pic.twitter.com/tN0CFjDvt7— Jeremy Sharon (@jeremysharon) March 23, 2021
Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky, 93, the most senior rabbinic leader in the Ashkenazi, non-hassidic haredi community, also voted.
Rabbi Shalom Cohen, 90, the spiritual leader of Shas, arrived at his voting station wearing tallit and tefillin and surrounded by Shas activists and media members.
“I praise all the [Shas] activists who work and strive to do the will of the Almighty,” he said after exiting the voting station.
Cohen urged people to vote Shas “for the honor of the Almighty, to increase Torah, fear [of Heaven], Shabbat and Kashrut, that God should fulfill all their requests for the good.”