Meet the Orthodox Mother of Twelve Who Ran the Office of an Israeli President

A few weeks ago, an unusual photograph appeared in news outlets: it showed Israel’s outgoing president Reuven Rivlin looking on as Joe Biden knelt in front of Rivlin’s chief of staff. Reportedly, the American president had just learned that the latter, Rivka Ravitz, is the mother of twelve children, whom she raised while serving as a senior staffer to a series of Israeli parliamentarians, and then to her country’s president. Ravitz may be a somewhat unusual figure, but in the ḥaredi community of which she is a part, there is nothing unusual about women balancing careers with large families. Avital Chizhik-Goldschmidt writes:

Ravitz has met with Pope Francis (a meeting where she did not shake the pontiff’s hand, for which she received special praise in the ḥaredi community, despite not shaking other male leaders’ hands), Emmanuel Macron, Justin Trudeau, King Felipe VI of Spain, and Vladimir Putin, among others.

Ravitz is, in many ways, the face of many Orthodox Jewish women, who identify as ḥaredi, who follow rabbinical rulings and who are uncomfortable in questioning the status quo publicly, who are devoted to traditional family values and community life—yet who are ready to step into leadership positions previously barred to women.

Outside her community, a ḥaredi woman can do whatever her heart desires, whether it’s finishing a PhD in public policy at the University of Haifa, meeting with Putin, or visiting Arab countries on secret missions that she cannot speak about. But in her own community, her public role is limited—for now. Ravitz told me that she believes that one day she will be a Knesset member herself—as part of the very same party whose leader said no ḥaredi women want to run for the Knesset.

Read more at Foreign Policy

More about: Haredim, Israeli politics, Reuven Rivlin, Women in Judaism


Planning for the Day after the War in the Gaza Strip

At the center of much political debate in Israel during the past week, as well as, reportedly, of disagreement between Jerusalem and Washington, is the problem of how Gaza should be governed if not by Hamas. Thus far, the IDF has only held on to small parts of the Strip from which it has cleared out the terrorists. Michael Oren lays out the parameters of this debate over what he has previous called Israel’s unsolvable problem, and sets forth ten principles that any plan should adhere to. Herewith, the first five:

  1. Israel retains total security control in Gaza, including control of all borders and crossings, until Hamas is demonstrably defeated. Operations continue in Rafah and elsewhere following effective civilian evacuations. Military and diplomatic efforts to secure the hostages’ release continue unabated.
  2. Civil affairs, including health services and aid distribution, are administered by Gazans unaffiliated with Hamas. The model will be Area B of Judea and Samaria, where Israel is in charge of security and Palestinians are responsible for the civil administration.
  3. The civil administration is supervised by the Palestinian Authority once it is “revitalized.” The PA first meets benchmarks for ending corruption and establishing transparent institutions. The designation and fulfillment of the benchmarks is carried out in coordination with Israel.
  4. The United States sends a greatly expanded and improved version of the Dayton Mission that trained PA police forces in Gaza after Israel’s disengagement.
  5. Abraham Accords countries launch a major inter-Arab initiative to rebuild and modernize Gaza.

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Gaza Strip, Gaza War 2023, Israeli Security, U.S.-Israel relationship