Labor has long struggled with the stigma of being the party of Israel’s secular elites. Not quite as left as the smaller Meretz perhaps, but nonetheless, a problematic fit for strictly Orthodox voters.

Yet in recent months, thanks to an unprecedented and largely under-the-radar recruitment drive, several hundred ultra-Orthodox Israelis have signed up with the party. Not enough to sway election results one way or another, but a sufficient number to have doubled, if not tripled, the size of the existing ultra-Orthodox contingency in Israel’s largest opposition party.

Celebrating the success of this effort, Labor – the party that ruled Israel for its first three decades of existence – voted two weeks ago to establish a new ultra-Orthodox, or Haredi, division charged with strengthening this newfound alliance. …

Yet surprisingly, the initiative did not arise within the party ranks but rather from outside – from within the ultra-Orthodox community, where a small but growing number of social activists have come to see in this particular party, strange as it may sound, a natural political home.