'Proud Canadian' seeks Knesset seat with Kadima

The Likud might boast four American citizens facing off in its primary, but only Kadima has a Canadian candidate running for Knesset.

rumi zonder kislev 248.88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
rumi zonder kislev 248.88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The Likud might boast four American citizens facing off in its primary, but only Kadima has a Canadian candidate running for Knesset. Rumi Zonder-Kislev, 36, holds a Canadian passport, because her mother lived in Windsor and Montreal for nearly a decade after an uncle helped her escape Poland when she was a child during the Holocaust. Her mother moved here and met her father, and Rumi was born in Holon, but she still considers herself a proud Canadian. Zonder-Kislev is an economist who until recently headed the economics department at SanDisk in Kfar Saba. She was laid off along with much of the staff due to the current economic crisis, but she took it in stride because she had intended to get into politics in any case. In her campaign, Zonder-Kislev is stressing her economic knowledge and abilities, hoping to differentiate herself from the other new candidates among the 77 people who paid NIS 10,000 to contend in Kadima's December 17 primary. "My strength is my economic expertise," Zonder-Kislev said. "I want to use my experience to strengthen the Knesset economically. There aren't a lot of people with a background in economics in the Knesset, where most of the MKs are either lawyers or career politicians," she said. Zonder-Kislev is also open to representing immigrants from English-speaking countries in the Knesset and would promote legislation on subjects that they are identified with, such as changing the electoral system and fighting the ills of smoking and traffic accidents. Although she volunteered for Kadima Leader Tzipi Livni during the foreign minister's leadership campaign, Zonder-Kislev does not see herself in any political camp. She met Livni on her visit to the Tefen Industrial zone last week. MK Otniel Schneller, a religious MK who is in Mofaz's camp, called and offered to help Zonder-Kislev after he read an article about Zonder-Kislev's life as a secular woman living with a religious husband. Zonder-Kislev said living in the mixed community of Shoham made it easier for her family. She eats at nonkosher restaurants when she is not with her husband, but they are sending their son to a religious school and she has started to keep Shabbat. "The work week is so hectic that I like the quiet we have together from keeping Shabbat," she said. A mother of two, she regularly visits her family members and friends in Windsor, Montreal, Detroit, New York and San Francisco. "Canada is a good country and I am proud to be Canadian, but I am very Zionist so I never considered leaving Israel," she said.