Shas rally draws thousands; focuses on poverty

Rabbi Shimon Ba'adani calls the Knesset a golden calf that was a necessary evil.

ovadia yosef 88 (photo credit: )
ovadia yosef 88
(photo credit: )
In an evening rich in hyperbolic religious symbolism and heart wrenching images of poverty, thousands of Shas supporters gathered in the Nokia sports stadium (Yad Eliyahu) in Tel Aviv to breathe life into the apathetic election scene. "Just as Moshe spoke to the Jews in Egypt and felt their pain, so too Maran [Rabbi Ovadia Yosef] cried a tear for each Jewish child," said Rabbi Rafael Cohen, who also compared contemporary Israeli society to the times of religious repression of the Roman empire. "Then as now there are decrees against Torah learning, circumcision and keeping the Shabat," said Cohen. A huge video screen relayed images of poverty - mostly among Sephardi Israelis. The theme song of the evening was called, "Hungry Child." Another song was, "We're Black". "We are black. We are Sephardim. We are smart. The Holy One loves Shas. The Holy One, we are voting for Shas," went the song. Rabbi Shimon Ba'adani, a member of Shas's Council of Torah Sages, said that after three years during which Shas sat in the opposition, spiritual destruction is rampant. "We are on the verge of having instituted civil marriages and Reform rabbis," said Ba'adani. "If we are apathetic now, we will be responsible for the deterioration of religion in Israel." Ba'adani called the Knesset a golden calf that was a necessary evil. "The Knesset is a terrible place but we must go into those places to save what we can," he said.