First female winner of 2018 Israel Prize announced

Yehudit and Yehuda Bronicki, the founders of Ormat Technologies, are to receive the Israel Prize in Industry.

Yehudit Bronicki (photo credit: ELI DASSA)
Yehudit Bronicki
(photo credit: ELI DASSA)
Yehuda and Yehudit Bronicki, founders of Ormat Technologies, a world leader in renewable energy, will be jointly awarded the Israel Prize for Industry, Education Minister Naftali Bennett announced on Sunday.
“Yehuda Bronicki, a visionary, an inventor, born in Poland who survived the Holocaust and together with his wife, Dita Bronicki, one of the first businesswomen and female entrepreneurs in Israel – a pioneer in her field – jointly established the Ormat Group and made it a world leader in geothermal energy,” the prize committee wrote. “Their strength lies in the persistence, determination and breadth of their work, which includes partnership in setting up prominent technological companies such as Orbotech, Organics and others. They have succeeded in connecting vision and the ability to implement and execute in a complex and changing reality.”
The committee added that the couple had left an “imprint” with regard to their “groundbreaking work in local and global industry” and in their “significant contribution to technological education, women’s advancement and innovation.”
The Bronickis established Ormat in 1965, running it until they retired in 2014.
Yehudit Bronicki is the first and only female winner of the 2018 Israel Prize among the 11 laureates announced so far, a fact that has drawn criticism.
The Israel Women’s Network called the lack of female representation among the laureates a “disgrace.”
“The excuse of the prize committee: women don’t nominate themselves. How will they nominate [themselves] when they have learned from the age of zero that only men can win?” the group wrote on Facebook.
The Network called on the prize committee to seek out female candidates and “make a real and active effort to end this outrageous show that repeats itself every year.”
“There are countless worthy, excellent women who inspire in every category of the prize,” the Network wrote. “The excuses and explanations are not interesting.
What is interesting is the girl looking up, who only sees men and learns that she has no chance to reach the top.”
Leading female MKs also slammed the lack of female laureates.
“A government that does not appoint female judges to the Supreme Court, tries to remove women from meaningful service in the IDF, separates women from ultra-Orthodox and religious men in academia and in the public sphere – no wonder women are not worthy of the Israel Prize,” said MK Meirav Michaeli (Zionist Union).
MK Shelly Yechimovitch (Zionist Union), who chairs the Knesset State Control Committee, said ahead of the announcement that the message being sent to girls and young women was “depressing.”
She said that the message was instead reinforcing the “primitive concepts represented by Rabbi Kellner and his ilk, preaching the inferiority of women.”
There are two remaining laureates still to be announced in the coming days.
The Israel Prize is largely regarded as the state’s highest honor. It is presented annually on Independence Day in a state ceremony in Jerusalem, in the presence of the president, the prime minister, the Knesset speaker and the Supreme Court president.