(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu expressed great sorrow at the death of former Yisrael B'Aliya, Likud and Kadima MK Marina Solodkin Sunday.
Solodkin was found dead Saturday night in her hotel room in Riga, Latvia, where had given a speech at an anti-fascism conference. The cause of death is still unknown.
"Marina Solodkin was a public representative with values who always listened to the problems of citizens of Israel," Netanyahu said. "In her modest and honest way, she was concerned for the welfare of citizens and always took care of problems of new immigrants."
The prime minister paid tribute to Solodkin's caring personality and hard work, saying that he liked and valued her very much.
Jewish Agency chairman and Yisrael B'Aliya founder Natan Sharansky expressed shock at Solodkin's sudden passing.
"For immigrants from the Former Soviet Union there was no advocate or defender more enthusiastic or uncompromising than Marina," Sharansky stated. "No problem was too small for her; she was willing to help at any hour of the day to solve employment issues, return children to single mothers, help find housing and sometimes just to sit together, to listen, to comfort, to give good advice."
For Marina, Sharansky added, helping others was her life mission.
"When she couldn't help anymore, she couldn't live," he said.
Solodkin was born in Moscow in 1952, and had a doctorate in economic and social science. She made aliya in 1991.
As a Yisrael B'Aliya MK, Solodkin was chairwoman of the Knesset Committee for the Advancement of the Status of Women, and served twice as Deputy Immigration and Absorption Minister. She left politics last December, because she was put in an unrealistic spot on Kadima's list after serving two terms as an MK for the party.
Kadima leader Shaul Mofaz wrote on his Facebook profile Saturday night that Solodkin was a woman who "dedicated her life to helping others, for equality in opportunity and social justice."
"Marina loved the State of Israel and did all she could to turn our wonderful land into a better place, a fairer and more just place. May her memory be blessed," he wrote.
Hatnua leader Tzipi Livni, a former Kadima leader, called Marina a "special character" in politics.
Livni recounted how, when former prime minister Ariel Sharon appointed her to be Immigration and Absorption Minister, he told her to seek advice from Solodkin, calling her "a very smart woman."
"I found a smart woman with a huge heart," Livni wrote. "She would listen and solve any problem on a personal level. She fought for the [FSU immigrant] public. She never thought about what was politically correct or not – she just said what she thought."
Labor leader Shelly Yacimovich described her friendship with Solodkin, saying she sought her advice on political and economic matters.
"Her advice was decisive and accurate. She had a calculator in her head that knew how to work out all the parameters of a good decision: Moral, political, pragmatic," Yacimovich stated.
The two worked together on a law that requires employers to allow workers to sit, and fought to save the government's welfare-to-work program, known as the "Wisconsin Plan."
"Solodkin hated corrupt and manipulative politicians. The Israeli public did not really know her, but the Russian-speakers valued her. She personally helped thousands of people," Yacimovich added. "Israel has lost a wonderful parliamentarian whose door was open to anyone in trouble."
The Labor leader said she had plans to meet with Solodkin this week, and was saddened by her sudden death.