Questionnaire: Conscientious and proactive

As president for the Council of Women’s Organizations in Israel, Rina Wasserman places an emphasis on family and social values.

Questionnaire, wasserman_521 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Questionnaire, wasserman_521
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Rina Wasserman
Age: 58
Profession: Social worker; president, the Council of Women’s Organizations in Israel; deputy chairperson and director of the Family Department – Emunah, the Religious Zionist Women’s Movement.
Current residence: Givatayim
What gets you out of bed in the morning?
My grandson. He [represents] the future and next generation. He is just one month old, but it is our responsibility to make this world a better and more pleasant place to live in. It is our responsibly to create a world where there is honor between people, equal rights and realization of personal potential.
What keeps you up at night?
I ask myself if I completed the mission I took upon myself, both personally and publicly. Personally: Was I attentive to my family’s needs? Publicly, as president for the Council of Women’s Organizations in Israel: Did I maintain the achievements of my predecessors and promote women’s rights in Israel?
What’s the most difficult professional moment you’ve faced so far?
A month ago I hosted Sharon Scott Gustafson, president of the International Council of Jewish Women, at one of Emunah’s children’s hostels in Netanya. It was very important for me to show Sharon the important educational work done by the Israeli women’s organizations for children that were forced to leave their homes. During the visit, children from the hostel were asked to eat lunch with the honored overseas delegation.
The visitors wanted to interview the children about their difficult life stories and take pictures of them. I prevented this, because as a social worker, in my eyes the children are not “stories,” but rather hurt souls that need treatment and therapy. I knew that the visitors would be disappointed, but in my opinion, respecting the children is much more important.
How do you celebrate your achievements?
I celebrated the International Women’s Day with colleagues from the Israeli Women’s council at Daliat al- Carmel, a Druse village. We saluted the village’s women, who served as national service volunteers in their community. The fact that I, as president, am able to bring the organization’s members to pay tribute to young Druse women is a true celebration for me. We even received a special kosher Druse meal.
If you were prime minister, what’s the first thing you would do?
I would legislate a law that limits the number of hours both men and women can work, in order for them to be able to spend more time with their families.
Which Israeli should have a movie made about him/her?
My mother, who was a Holocaust survivor. She got married in Israel and was widowed at a young age, raising two daughters on her own. My mother instilled in us the importance of being financially and intellectually independent and raising families in addition to successful careers. She succeeded!
What would you change about Israelis if you could?
I would change the driving culture in Israel by positioning police officers that would give positive traffic tickets, encouraging people to drive according to law. In addition, the “good drivers” would have the opportunity to receive awards. This way, citizens would actually want the officers to stop them, and drive accordingly. If, through this project, we can prevent even one person from being killed in an accident, the project will justify itself.
iPad, BlackBerry or pen and paper?
iPad. It’s a modern, visual and useful tool. It’s also so light to carry.
If you had to write an advertisement to entice tourists to come to Israel, what would it say?
I would [encourage] Jews to visit Israel by showing our country’s amazing educational system and social facilities. I would show a picture of Israeli mothers who proudly send their sons to the army. I would show coexistence in east Jerusalem, and finally present Tel Aviv’s beautiful beaches.
What is the most serious problem facing the country?
Gaps in the socioeconomic hierarchy of Israel.
How can it be solved?
The gap can be solved by investing in and promoting weak populations. The government and people with means need to put a strong emphasis on making this top priority.
In 20 years, the country will be:
A country that consists of full equal rights between men and women (including equal salaries); Sunday will be a rest day, in addition to Shabbat, and Israel’s borders will be open. We will then create an Israeli-Arab women’s forum. In addition, most of the Knesset members will be women.