Yesh Atid candidate Ruth Calderon, secular Talmudist, stands up to the Rabbinate
Yair Lapid, head of the two-year-old Israeli political party “>secular Talmudist, was the natural pick.
“Shabbat shalom,” Calderon, 53, told the crowd, a mix of Hebrew- and English-speakers, before launching into one of her now-famous political Talmud lessons. “It's a little bit awkward to do it standing up in a bar… but I want to tell you a story that is amazingly relevant four days before the election,” she said. Reading from a hefty red Talmud that once belonged to Lapid's grandfather, Calderon told the story of an ancient Jewish president who was ousted after shaming his subjects one too many times — a clear metaphor for current Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. “Who's going to replace him? We'll know in four days,” she said with a grin.
Lapid, recently voted the “>a grainy video of her Knesset acceptance speech went (relatively) viral following the 2013 election. In the speech, Calderon did what no Israeli politician had done before: She recited her own feminist, secularist interpretation of the Talmud to a room full of political and religious fundamentalists in Jerusalem.
This election season, no one at Yesh Atid's Tel Aviv campaign event appeared too taken aback by her shtick. But that's just a testament to Calderon's one-woman efforts toward normalizing the pluralistic approach in Israel. Toward creating, as she told the crowd, a “public Jewish space that is generous — that is not coming from catching someone.”