U.S. citizen high on Labor list vows to help English speakers in Israel

Only one candidate had the ultimate secret weapon: A mother from Brooklyn.

Yair “Yaya” Fink (photo credit: FACEBOOK)
Yair “Yaya” Fink
(photo credit: FACEBOOK)
There were 44 candidates who ran in Monday’s Labor primary, each having their own strengths and weaknesses.
But only one candidate had the ultimate secret weapon: A mother from Brooklyn.
Irene Fink, who is 75, stood all day from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. outside the WIZO building on Jerusalem’s Mapu Street that housed the capital’s only polling station. She told every single voter who came that she is the proud mother of Yair “Yaya” Fink, opposition leader Shelly Yacimovich’s former chief of staff and political adviser. When Labor leader Avi Gabbay came to the polling place, he took a selfie with Irene and sent it to Yaya.

Thanks in part to Irene, Yaya received 15,507 votes, outscoring all but seven of the MKs in the Labor faction. He finished eighth in the primary, which means he will be placed ninth on the list if Gabbay does not end up using his reserved slots on the list, and 12th if Gabbay does.
The younger Fink, 34, told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday that he would forever be grateful to his mother and that he would be a proud representative of the English-speaking community in Israel if elected to the Knesset. Fink is a US citizen thanks both to Irene and to his father, who was born in Scranton, Pennsylvania, and comes from a respected family in the Scranton Jewish community.
The Finks raised three daughters and three sons in the English-speaking community in Jerusalem; Yaya is the youngest of the six.
“As someone who grew up in this community, I believe it is important for Labor to represent the community and make a real connection with native English-speaking Israelis,” he said. “We need to coordinate our messages to understand the community’s needs.”
Fink promises to deliver “a new type of religious Zionism,” one which is supportive of gay rights, peace, and even limited public transportation on Shabbat. He is a member of the public council of Tzav Pius, an NGO devoted to better relations between secular and religious Israelis, and enjoys a top position in Ofek, a cooperative bank initiative.
Yacimovich said on Monday that Fink “brings to the Knesset pluralistic and tolerant Jewish values.”
In an interview given to Maariv, the sister publication of The Jerusalem Post, Fink said that he “speaks for the real Judaism, the tolerant Judaism that believes in ‘love thy neighbor’... Jewish values that put equality and social justice at the center.”
Saying that he views liberal leftist values and Jewish values as complementary, he voiced support for LGBT equal rights, civil marriages for Jewish Israelis and dividing Jerusalem to obtain a peace agreement with the Palestinians.
He has been a vegetarian since the age of seven and was a serious basketball player in high-school.