Why a Knesset Member's Speech Moved Me to Tears

An incredible and historic speech was given at the Knesset this week. The new knesset was sworn in after parliamentary elections two weeks ago and new members were given an opportunity to speak. Ruth Calderone of the Yesh Atid party spoke and her speech was astonishing. I urge you to read it .

I've been a Zionist all my life and I define my Zionism as believing in a State of Israel for all Jews - a State that will allow all Jews to live and practice equally in freedom and safety. I, as many non-Orthodox Jews, am frustrated by the lack of pluralism in Israeli society. I am frustrated by all the benefits the ultra-Orthodox receive at the expense of others. I dream of a State of Israel that is truly democratic and truly separates synagogue from state.

It seems that Ruth Calderone and her Yesh Atid party subscribe to that Zionist vision too. Her speech was remarkable for combining a Talmud lesson with a political vision. It was remarkable that a woman Talmud scholar was supported by the Sephardic rabbi who is the speaker of the Knesset. It was remarkable to watch (if you wish you can watch the speech in Hebrew here) secular and religious, men and women, listening and nodding as she not only taught Talmud but presented her vision of Judaism and sacred texts being open to all.

Ruth Calderone is a scholar. I pray that the politics of the Knesset doesn't dim her vision but rather she lights the way for others to follow.