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

July 26 2021

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.

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Read more at Foreign Policy

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

 

Why the Recent Uptick of Israeli Activity in Syria?

Sept. 23 2022

On September 16 and 17, the IDF carried out airstrikes in the vicinity of Damascus, reportedly aimed at Iranian logistical centers there. These follow on an increase in the frequency of such attacks in recent weeks, which have included strikes on the Aleppo airport on August 31 and September 6. Jonathan Spyer comments:

The specific targeting of the Aleppo airport is almost certainly related to recent indications that Iran is relying increasingly on its “air bridge” to Syria and Lebanon, because of Israel’s successful and systematic targeting of efforts to move weaponry and equipment by land [via Iraq]. But the increased tempo of activity is not solely related to the specific issue of greater use of air transport by Teheran. Rather, it is part of a broader picture of increasing regional tension. There are a number of factors that contribute to this emergent picture.

Firstly, Russia appears to be pulling back in Syria. . . . There are no prospects for a complete Russian withdrawal. The air base at Khmeimim and the naval facilities at Tartus and Latakia are hard strategic assets which will be maintained. The maintenance of Assad’s rule is also a clear objective for Moscow. But beyond this, the Russians are busy now with a flailing, faltering military campaign in Ukraine. Moscow lacks the capacity for two close strategic engagements at once.

Secondly, assuming that some last-minute twist does not occur, it now looks like a return to the [2015 nuclear deal] is not imminent. In the absence of any diplomatic process related to the Iranian nuclear program, and given Israeli determination to roll back Iran’s regional ambitions, confrontation becomes more likely.

Lastly, it is important to note that the uptick in Israeli activity is clearly not related to Syria alone. Rather, it is part of a more general broadening and deepening by Israel in recent months of its assertive posture toward the full gamut of Iranian activity in the region. . . . The increasing scope and boldness of Israeli air activity in Syria reflects this changing of the season.

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Read more at Jonathan Spyer

More about: Iran, Israeli Security, Syria, War in Ukraine