RA’ANANA’S NEWLY elected mayor Eitan Ginzburg (right), and his partner, Yotam Nisenboat, pose with their children last year in the US.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Ra’anana became the first city in Israel to have an openly gay mayor on Sunday, when Eitan Ginzburg completed his first full day of work on the job.
Ginzburg, 41, has been on the Ra’anana city council for 15 years, including most of the past six years as a paid deputy mayor. He was elected by the city council to take over as mayor when veteran Ra’anana mayor Ze’ev Bielski left to head the National Housing Authority.
“I feel there is significance that another glass ceiling was shattered, showing the progress in Israeli society,” Ginzburg told The Jerusalem Post
late Sunday night, after a 14-hour first day on the job.
What made the promotion even more special for Ginzburg was that he was chosen for his qualifications and experience by a consensus on the city council that included councilmen who are Orthodox.”
“It felt normal because I was chosen because of my work,” Ginzburg said. “I am happy the fact that I am gay did not stop me from getting elected with the support of the Bayit Yehudi. I was chosen not because I am gay and not in spite of it, but because of the work I have done.”
Ginzburg has been in a relationship with his partner Yotam for 15 years. Together, they recently had a twin son and daughter named Itai and Emma through a surrogate mother in Portland, Oregon. He said he did not realize at first how rare he was in the world.
“I still haven’t understood I am an example internationally,” he said. “But I’ve started receiving letters from around the world. I am a regular guy with emotions, feelings, and views, and I don’t feel special in any way. I just see this as a message that there are no limits to success if you work hard.”
The United Religious List, which is made up of Bayit Yehudi and another religious party called Darchei Noam, supported Ginzburg as interim mayor until national municipal elections, which include Ra’anana, in October. United Religious List former city councilman Rabbi Stewart Weiss said Ginzburg “is a good man” and “has a good relationship with the religious and secular community and with Ra’anana’s substantial Anglo community.”
Weiss said that there is no guarantee, however, that religious parties in Ra’anana would back Ginzburg in the race for mayor that will be held in October. But serving as mayor and being the incumbent has given Ginzburg’s campaign a boost.
Asked if being mayor has now given him an edge in the race, Ginzburg said: “What it has given me is the right to run the city in a stable and responsible way.” He noted that he is also Israel’s youngest current mayor.
In his first term in the city council, Ginzburg worked simultaneously in the Knesset as an aide to then-Labor MK Matan Vilna’i. But he said he did not have national political aspirations.
“My only aspiration is to win the election for mayor of Ra’anana and serve the residents,” he said. “But I do see the need to move on to the next generation. The world is developing quickly.”