This grandma is a political animal [pg.4]

New MK Sarah Marom-Shalev has already made a name for herself in the Knesset, or at least acquired a nickname: Grandma. As the only female MK in the Gil Pensioners Party, Moram often appears to be the doting, sweet-tempered grandmother of the 17th Knesset. But the 72-year-old doesn't plan to spend her time in the legislature baking cookies or knitting sweaters. She has waited a long time to get her plenum seat and she's taking nothing for granted. "I don't remember life before politics. At the age of 12 I was already active in political life," said Moram. A lifelong member of the Labor Party, Moram left the party one month before the last election. "It was hard to leave the party I had belonged to my whole life, but their agenda changed so much," said Moram. "We don't have a political agenda in Gil. We came to help a certain sector, society's elderly." Gil set 10 goals for themselves during the campaign, she said, and they have already accomplished more than half. "We have worked hard, and honestly, since we were elected," said Moram. She said she had been in Knesset nearly every day since the session opened on April 17. "Sometimes, when it goes very late, I spend the night in Jerusalem. It is hard work, but not too much for me." Moram has lived in Rehovot since 1946. She worked for the city for nearly 30 years, in a variety of positions, until she retired 20 years ago. "Everything I do in the Knesset now, I learned from my years working for the Rehovot municipality," said Moram. "It is the same thing, just on a different scale... The Knesset is not really as hard or daunting for me as some other people." Moram said that during her first week in the legislature, she realized that she already knew most of her fellow MKs. Vice Premier Shimon Peres, she said, used to lunch at her home while working on Labor election campaigns. She once took notes for Defense Minister Amir Peretz when she worked at the Histadrut. "I'm one of the old timers, we know everyone. Everyone is connected," said Moram. "Most of these people in the plenum have been house guests of mine." Moram serves on the Knesset's Interior Committee and the Committee on the Status of Women. Moram, who escaped from Romania in an "illegal ship" in the early 1940s, said increasing funding for Holocaust survivors was a cause that was very close to her heart. "It is really one of the most important issues," she said. "To treat these people with respect, to allow them to live in a dignified manner... Israel can not do enough for the Holocaust survivors." As a real-life grandma of four, Moram said she knew that there was always more work to be done.