Rabbi Dov Lipman, an America-born member of the Israel Knesset from the Yesh Atid party, has responded to a vitriolic tirade issued against him by the head of his former yeshiva in Baltimore by saying he was misquoted.
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In a recorded sermon, Rabbi Aharon Feldman, the dean of Ner Israel Rabbinical College, among the most prominent yeshivas in North America, called Lipman wicked and an apostate for proposing that the Israeli government close down yeshivas for young boys because they do not offer enough of a core curriculum. Lipman is a graduate of Ner Israel, which he attended while studying for a degree in education at Johns Hopkins University.
Lipman responded that he never advocated closing down the yeshiva ketanas – as they are known – but rather, had proposed ending government funding of schools that do not teach English and math. It is very unfortunate, he told Haaretz, that such remarks had been made about him.
Several schools in Israel, he noted, have opted to waive government funding to maintain control of their curricula.
We are not anti-Haredi, and we are not anti-Torah, said Lipman, referring to Yesh Atid. In fact, Ner Israel is a great example of an institution that has succeeded in combining Torah studies with a core curriculum.
Lipman is the sole ultra-Orthodox member of Yesh Atid, the party headed by Finance Minister Yair Lapid that was the surprise runner up in the most recent national election. Yesh Atid ran on a platform of integrating the ultra-Orthodox into the army and the work force.
A father of four and resident of Beit Shemesh, Lipman is the first American-born member of Knesset since the late ultra-nationalist Rabbi Meir Kahane was elected in 1984. He is often lambasted by the ultra-Orthodox for joining forces with a party they perceive as harmful to their interests.