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The Shas Phenomenon

The struggle to save Sephardic humanism in Israel By Jordan Elgrably

URL: http://www.jewishjournal.com/world/article/the_shas_phenomenon_20001013

Israel's political landscape has, over the past decade, been transmogrified by the growing strength of the ultra-Orthodox Sephardi party Shas (Sephardic Torah Guardians). But the conviction and recent jailing of party leader Aryeh Deri has only fortified Shas' power among an electorate of largely disenfranchised Middle Eastern Jews; the party currently holds 17 seats in the Knesset, just behind Likud. The American Jewish community, which had not previously taken much notice of Sephardic Jewry, has been shaken by the Shas phenomenon. Last week, Hebrew Union College invited Dr. Zvi Zohar, one of Israel's most astute observers of the socio-political scene, to give a lecture in Los Angeles on what many now perceive to be a permanent feature of Israeli politics.

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