English Speakers Grab Bigger Role in Israel Politics — Halting Hebrew and All

Americans and Brits Run for Office Across Holy Land

By Ben Sales

Published October 02, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

In the eight years since Rabbi Avrohom Leventhal moved from Baltimore to this central Israeli city of 80,000, he has trained as a technical writer, taken over a local charity and become president of his synagogue.

Now Leventhal is hoping to add city councilman to his resume.

Leventhal loves Beit Shemesh, but none of his children want to stay here — not because of the conflict between haredi and Modern Orthodox Jews that has plagued the city since 2010, he says, but because the city feels like it’s falling apart.

A local community center lacks a bathroom. Street cleaning is spotty. At a neighborhood school, children sit all day in converted trailers.

“I want to do whatever I can to make a Beit Shemesh that my children and everyone else’s children would want to live in,” Leventhal said. “It’s not a citizen-friendly city. There’s not a lot for youth, no cultural activities. It should have a whole menu of different activities and events.”

Leventhal is among a handful of English-speaking immigrants making first-time bids for public office in municipal elections on Oct. 22. A few English speakers, known here as Anglos, already serve on city councils.

But following a national election in January that saw the first American-born Knesset member in 25 years and increased political outreach to native English speakers, Anglos are now stepping up their activism in local campaigns.

One party in Jerusalem, Ometz Lev, features five Anglos in its top 11 spots. A native of Manchester, England, is expected to win a council seat in the central city of Modiin. And a Londoner is running on the mayor’s slate in Tel Aviv.


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!
  • Could Spider-Man be Jewish? Andrew Garfield thinks so.
  • Most tasteless video ever? A new video shows Jesus Christ dying at Auschwitz.
  • "It’s the smell that hits me first — musty, almost sweet, emanating from the green felt that cradles each piece of silver cutlery in its own place." Only one week left to submit! Tell us the story of your family's Jewish heirloom.
  • Mazel tov to Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky!
  • If it's true, it's pretty terrifying news.
  • “My mom went to cook at the White House and all I got was this tiny piece of leftover raspberry ganache."
  • Planning on catching "Fading Gigolo" this weekend? Read our review.
  • A new initiative will spend $300 million a year towards strengthening Israel's relationship with the Diaspora. http://jd.fo/q3Iaj Is this money spent wisely?
  • Lusia Horowitz left pre-state Israel to fight fascism in Spain — and wound up being captured by the Nazis and sent to die at Auschwitz. Share her remarkable story — told in her letters.
  • Vered Guttman doesn't usually get nervous about cooking for 20 people, even for Passover. But last night was a bit different. She was cooking for the Obamas at the White House Seder.
  • A grumpy Jewish grandfather is wary of his granddaughter's celebrating Easter with the in-laws. But the Seesaw says it might just make her appreciate Judaism more. What do you think?
  • “Twist and Shout.” “Under the Boardwalk.” “Brown-Eyed Girl.” What do these great songs have in common? A forgotten Jewish songwriter. We tracked him down.
  • What can we learn from tragedies like the rampage in suburban Kansas City? For one thing, we must keep our eyes on the real threats that we as Jews face.
  • When is a legume not necessarily a legume? Philologos has the answer.
  • 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.