Yair Lapid, Israel's Rising Star, Is Still Great Unknown in Washington

Newcomer Lived in L.A., But Has Scant Ties to Establishment

Fresh Face: Yair Lapid, the man of the moment in Israel, is still widely unknown in Washington policy circles.
getty images
Fresh Face: Yair Lapid, the man of the moment in Israel, is still widely unknown in Washington policy circles.

By Nathan Guttman

Published January 23, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

(page 2 of 2)

In 2008, Lapid returned to Los Angeles as a keynote speaker at a star-studded event honoring Milchan. In his speech he thanked Milchan for “the many things we don’t know” about his work for Israel, apparently hinting to the movie producer’s rumored ties with Israeli intelligence services.

Yair Lapid’s ties with the American Jewish community began to take shape last year, after he announced his intention to enter politics and upon publicly taking on the issue of religious pluralism in Israel. “We saw him as someone who has this issue on his radar and wanted to build a relationship with him early in the game,” said Rabbi Julie Schonfeld, executive vice president of the Rabbinical Assembly. The group invited Lapid to speak at their conference last May, and Lapid, though already in full campaign mode, agreed to make a 24 hour visit and attend the Rabbinical Assembly conference in Atlanta. By the time he landed in the U.S., Lapid had learned that Prime Minister Netanyahu, in a last-minute political maneuver, called off the early elections.

In his speech Lapid touched on all the right chords. He told the crowd of Conservative rabbis they are “the last line of defense that believes that Judaism shouldn’t be the jailhouse of ideas, but the liberator of ideas,” and promised to do all in his power “to make it feasible to women, Conservative or Reform, to pray at the wailing wall, wearing their prayer shawls.” Lapid also argued that “the majority of Israelis are actually Conservative, they just don’t know it.”

“We look forward to working with him on these issues,” said Rabbi Schonfeld, who described the leader of Yesh Atid party as “a very bright, possibly brilliant charismatic individual.”

Ties Lapid forged with members of the American Jewish community throughout the years proved helpful when he embarked on his political career. In just one month in 2012, Lapid raised nearly $30,000 from American Jewish supporters and Israeli expatriates living in the United States. One of the notable donors is leading Jewish philanthropist Michael Steinhardt.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • About 1 in 40 American Jews will get pancreatic cancer (Ruth Bader Ginsberg is one of the few survivors).
  • At which grade level should classroom discussions include topics like the death of civilians kidnapping of young Israelis and sirens warning of incoming rockets?
  • Wanted: Met Council CEO.
  • “Look, on the one hand, I understand him,” says Rivka Ben-Pazi, a niece of Elchanan Hameiri, the boy that Henk Zanoli saved. “He had a family tragedy.” But on the other hand, she said, “I think he was wrong.” What do you think?
  • How about a side of Hitler with your spaghetti?
  • Why "Be fruitful and multiply" isn't as simple as it seems:
  • William Schabas may be the least of Israel's problems.
  • You've heard of the #IceBucketChallenge, but Forward publisher Sam Norich has something better: a #SoupBucketChallenge (complete with matzo balls!) Jon Stewart, Sarah Silverman & David Remnick, you have 24 hours!
  • Did Hamas just take credit for kidnapping the three Israeli teens?
  • "We know what it means to be in the headlines. We know what it feels like when the world sits idly by and watches the news from the luxury of their living room couches. We know the pain of silence. We know the agony of inaction."
  • When YA romance becomes "Hasidsploitation":
  • "I am wrapping up the summer with a beach vacation with my non-Jewish in-laws. They’re good people and real leftists who try to live the values they preach. This was a quality I admired, until the latest war in Gaza. Now they are adamant that American Jews need to take more responsibility for the deaths in Gaza. They are educated people who understand the political complexity, but I don’t think they get the emotional complexity of being an American Jew who is capable of criticizing Israel but still feels a deep connection to it. How can I get this across to them?"
  • “'I made a new friend,' my son told his grandfather later that day. 'I don’t know her name, but she was very nice. We met on the bus.' Welcome to Israel."
  • A Jewish female sword swallower. It's as cool as it sounds (and looks)!
  • Why did David Menachem Gordon join the IDF? In his own words: "The Israel Defense Forces is an army that fights for her nation’s survival and the absence of its warriors equals destruction from numerous regional foes. America is not quite under the threat of total annihilation… Simply put, I felt I was needed more in Israel than in the United States."
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.