The Canadian Jewish News
Naftali Bennett did not become a practicing Orthodox Jew until he moved to Canada.
The new Israeli Prime Minister, who was born in Haifa to American immigrants, credits a Montreal Chabad preschool he attended for influencing a change in his family’s observance, which started after he came home one day wearing tzitzit and a yarmulke.
“We needed a kosher kitchen, because other children visited us at home,” Bennett’s father Jim told Haaretz in 2013. “We started with simple things, like lighting candles on Sabbath eve. One thing led to another, until we also started to attend synagogue and so on.”
Bennett’s family relocated to Montreal when he was a toddler as part of his father’s public relations job for the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology. They remained in Montreal for two years before moving to New Jersey and eventually returning to Israel.
“I am eternally grateful to Chabad,” Bennett was quoted as saying in an Arutz Sheva article published in February. “Thanks to Chabad of Montreal, my father, of blessed memory, and my mother and all of us became connected to Judaism.”
Bennett’s government was formed from a coalition of eight parties from across the political spectrum. The unlikely marriage of parties enabled the unity government to topple Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party, which had held office since 2009.
As a rotation government, former Leader of the Opposition Yair Lapid of centrist party Yesh Atid is poised to take over as Prime Minister in 2023.
Bennett himself brings several firsts to his position as prime minister. As he assumes office, he will become the first to be religiously observant.
He will also be the first to regularly wear a yarmulke—something which he started to do in Montreal.