A born leader

The 29-year-old Ibenboim and her husband are members of the Ger Hassidic sect, the largest hassidic group in the country.

Racheli Ibenboim (photo credit: Courtesy)
Racheli Ibenboim
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Racheli Ibenboim was born in Tel Aviv and moved to Jerusalem when she got married. She lives in Mea She’arim with her husband and their two daughters, ages seven and nine. The 29-year-old Ibenboim and her husband are members of the Ger Hassidic sect, the largest hassidic group in the country. Her husband is administrative director of a Ger yeshiva, where he also studies daily.
Her first appearance on the public stage was about six years ago, when she was appointed CEO of the Meir Panim soup kitchen. The institution was in a financial crisis, but she managed to save it from closure and even improve its condition.
Two years ago, she left the position, and has since headed the Movilot project in cooperation with the Joint Distribution Committee.
Movilot aims to empower haredi women in various aspects of their lives – professional, health and education, among others – in the framework of raising their awareness of their rights and needs. According to the project’s findings, haredi women represent 5 percent of the country’s population.
Yet Ibenboim observes that there has not been a single study comparing their health conditions with those of the rest of the women in the country.
Ibenboim, who holds a BA in communications and sociology from the Open University, says that the program that had the deepest impact on her views and approach was the Shimon Peres Young Adults Forum.
For two years, she participated in the forum’s activities and study of Israeli society. On one particularly eyeopening day, she recalls, the group took a guided tour of Samaria, under the guidance of left-wing NGOs.
They then crossed a single road and continued the visit accompanied by representatives of the settlers in the region, including touring some of the area’s most strategic points.
“I came back from that day with a profound cognitive dissonance,” she says. “It made me realize how tiny...
how close everything is, and I felt relieved that I didn’t have to take any decision in these matters. It was the most important day I experienced in my public and professional life.”
Yet it is in Movilot that she says she is achieving the most important goals: helping haredi women learn how they can aid other haredi women. The project is in its second year, and there is already a waiting list.
“Haredi women have their own specific needs, health, education, salaries – we are no longer the slaves of hi-tech, which employs us at ridiculous salaries, without rights,” she says, referring to recent efforts to provide haredi women with training as computer programmers. “We work for equal opportunities and equal rights.”