Dear Yair Lapid,
"We came to change things," you said during the election campaign, and the Israelis believed you because they wanted change; 543,458 people voted for you because you expressed their feelings when you spoke of the politicians' detachment from the public and when you came out against those who make big promises during election campaigns but rarely make good on them.
You formed an impressive list which represents a broad spectrum of Jewish
society in Israel.
You recruited Ruth Calderon, a co-founder of the secular yeshivas, as well as Rabbi Dov Lipman of Beit Shemesh, whose worldview was shaped in haredi yeshivas in the US.
You, the son of Yosef "Tommy" Lapid, were often a big draw at the Shavuot midnight study sessions held at the Reform movement's Beit Daniel synagogue in Tel Aviv, and now you have joined forces with Rabbi Shay Piron, one of the heads of the national-religious hesder yeshivas. In Yesh Atid you brought together the center and the periphery, as well as young and older people, to ensure pluralism and diversity of opinions. By recruiting these people to Yesh Atid
you were trying to prove that "live and let live" is not merely a symbolic act, but something that can also be practiced in the political arena.
Now, Yair, it's time to really change things; to prove that new politics really exists. Obviously, you cannot change things in one day. The reality is complex. Some changes will be implemented immediately; others will be implemented later. These days, Yair, the days of coalition negotiations, are crucial for this change you speak of. During these days the principles of the next government are being determined. We will soon know whether we are facing the same status quo government or a government that wants to implement change.
You represent many people in these negotiations; people who want to live in this country, get married and love here, all heard you promise to end the rabbinate's
stranglehold on the marriage institution and the family unit. You represent young Israelis who want to start a family in Israel but have to face an archaic and chauvinistic institution that prevents many people from realizing their dreams and forces them to act against their own worldview on one of the most important days of their lives.
In these coalition talks, you represent Keren and Idan, who opted for a Reform marriage and believe you share their worldview; you represent Anna and Nadav, who met in the army and wanted to get married here but were forced wed in Cyprus because the rabbinate questioned Anna's Jewishness. Hana is also pinning her hopes on you after a long battle with rabbinical institution left her as an agunah (woman whose husband refuses to divorce her) without rights. Ram and Roi voted for you because they heard you say that the right to love is a universal right of all people, including homosexuals.
Knesset Member Lapid, the next government will be established soon. The guiding principles of this government, if you will be a part of it, will serve as your first political and moral test. The coalition agreement will have to show that you came to fight for a pluralistic and open Israel in which every citizen has the right to get married, start a family and live according to his or her worldview.
Should you be a part of a government that will continue to hold us in the rabbinate's prisons, you will immediately be linked to the oldest kind of politics - the kind that promises new politics but actually deals in cosmetic changes and sanctifies the status quo. You will not be given another opportunity.
Mickey Gitzin is the executive director of Israel Hofshit (Be Free Israel)