MK Aliza Lavie (Yesh Atid), well-known for her bestselling Jewish Woman’s Prayer Book, brings her special brand of Jewish feminism to the 19th Knesset.

On the morning of her swearing-in last week, Lavie distributed copies of the prayer said by the prophetess Deborah, in the Book of Judges, to all 27 female MKs. She explained that women traditionally recite the prayer upon assuming positions of leadership.

“Over 3,000 years ago, in the days of Deborah the prophetess, it was a strange phenomenon to see a female public leader, and in Jewish history, few women held public positions over time,” Lavie said.

“Now there is a record number of women in the Knesset, and we cannot ignore the positive trend. My prayer is that together with female MKs, we will faithfully represent Israeli women and act together to promote their status in society.”

Name: Aliza Lavie

Party: Yesh Atid

Age: 48

Hometown: Netanya

Family status: Married with four children and one granddaughter

Profession before becoming an MK: Lecturer at the Bar-Ilan University School of Communications. Researcher, author, columnist and social activist on Jewish-feminist issues

Why did you decide to enter politics?

I joined politics because I realized that there are problems in Israeli society that cannot be ignored anymore. There are topics that we have tried to repress instead of solving, and today we are eating their rotten fruit, while the situation continues to worsen.

On the day my granddaughter was born, I realized that we are leaving heavy problems for our children to deal with and pay interest.

What are the first three bills you plan to propose?

Putting two women in the committee to appoint judges to religious courts; redefining the Western Wall’s status under the law; making it accessible to the entire public; and transparency in the state budget.

What was the most interesting experience on the campaign trail?

Meeting young people that are my children’s age and learning how Israel appears in their eyes. Unlike the stereotypes and insults people say about the younger generation, I saw that they were not prepared to accept the reality in Israel as a decree of fate, and they volunteered to make a change. People say the young generation is overly individualistic and societal values do not interest it, but I have met young people with values and motivation that stopped their studies and contributed their time and energy to promote what they believe is good for the country, even if they weren’t being paid.

This Knesset has a record number of women and religious people. How do you think this will affect the way it functions and the kind of change it brings?

The 19th Knesset is the most varied one, and that will change the discourse and decisions that are made. Marginalized groups realized that they needed to take part in the political game.

As a religious woman who advocates for religious people’s inclusion in all parts of Israeli society and for women in leadership roles, when I see the makeup of the current Knesset, I believe that we are on the right path – but there is still a lot of work. In general, I believe that the more heterogeneous a group of decision makers, the better its decisions are, and the more they reflect the entire population.

Do you think haredim and Arabs should do military or national service, and if so, how should the state enforce it?

Everyone must carry the burden equally.

I don’t see [service] as a burden; rather, it is a privilege to contribute to Israeli society. Every citizen of the State of Israel must contribute his part. As someone who sees the Torah as important, it is sad for me to find that many use Torah studies as an excuse to get out of serving.

Do you support a religious-Zionist chief candidate, such as Rabbi David Stav, for the chief rabbinate?

Haredi parties control the Chief Rabbinate and Jewish institutions of the state and make the general public sick of Judaism.

We need to bring Judaism back to Israelis, and only a Zionist rabbi who is connected to the entire society should be chosen. Rabbi Stav is a worthy candidate, and I would be happy to see him as chief rabbi.

What can be done to lower the cost of housing in Israel?

First of all, the Israel Land Authority’s monopoly must be canceled, and the dam of bureaucracy must be broken.

There is nothing wrong with giving half a dunam to soldiers finishing army service, or to young couples. There isn’t a lack of land; there’s a problem with planning and defective public administration in the ILA.

What do you think can be cut from the budget, which must be passed within 45 days of the government’s swearing in?

I think the defense budget can be cut, and I also hope that more women will be involved in defense issues, and in how the budget is utilized.

What is your position on talks with the Palestinian Authority and a possible Palestinian state?

Most of the public realizes that the only solution is two states for two peoples.

Even Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said it. We need to go back to the negotiating table and start a dialogue.

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