■ WOMEN HAVE advanced remarkably in Israel over the past 20 years. Even though Education and Sport Minister Limor Livnat is still calling for greater female representation on the boards of directors of state-owned companies, the progressive strides made by women cannot be denied.For many years, Golda Meir stood out as an icon towards possible achievement – first as Israel’s ambassador to the Soviet Union, then for 17 years as the only woman in the government, first as labor minister and then as foreign affairs minister.She was also Israel’s first and only woman prime minister. Justice Minister Tzipi Livni is the only other woman to serve as foreign minister and the only woman to serve as justice minister, excluding the three-month period that Meir as prime minister also headed the Justice Ministry. Miriam Ben- Porat was the first and so far the only woman state comptroller. Dalia Itzik was the first and only woman speaker of the Knesset, though female MKs have served as deputy speakers. Dorit Beinisch was the first female president of the Supreme Court, and Karnit Flug is the first female governor of the Bank of Israel.Women head two of Israel’s major banks. Ben-Gurion University of the Negev is headed by a woman as is the Israel Academy of Sciences – and the list goes on. Flug has recommended a woman to serve as her deputy, and Livni has named a woman as CEO of the Justice Ministry.But all of this is not enough for Michal Yudin, who in 2000 founded Koach N a s h i m , known in English as W E P o w e r (Women’ s E l e c t o r a l Power). The organization has trained h u n d r e d s of women, many of whom c u r r e n t l y serve in local municipalities. As an outcome of this and in anticipation of International Women’s Day, Koach Nashim, in conjunction with the Central Committee of the Union of Local Authorities, is launching a training center for politics at ULA headquarters in Tel Aviv on February 5, with the participation of MK Yifat Kariv and newly elected chairman of the ULA Haim Bibas. International Women’s Day is on March 8, but in Israel it will be celebrated both before and after, as March 8 falls on a Saturday.■ FRIENDS AND supporters of the International Young Israel Movement traveled to the south of the country this week to dedicate a Torah scroll to the Iron Dome unit attached to the Israel Air Force. The scroll, a gift of the Leo V. Berger Fund, was facilitated by IYIM within the framework of its project to ensure that all IDF bases have Torah scrolls. The project is spearheaded by Rabbi Pesach Lerner and Lt.-Col. (res.) Rabbi Yedidya Atlas. Over the past 18 years, more than 200 Torah scrolls have been donated to the IDF through the IYIM. All the Torah scrolls had fallen into disrepair in Jewish communities and synagogues t h r o u g h o u t N o r t h A m e r i c a a n d , i n st e a d of being buried, w e r e brought to Israel, r e p a i red and are u s e d o n army, navy and air force bases throughout the country.This week’s ceremony, complete with singing and dancing, took place in the presence of Leo V. Berger Fund chairman Harvey Schwartz.The fund presented IYIM with a Challenge grant, which has offered that for every two Torah scrolls IYIM brings to the IDF, the fund will pay for the restoration and dedication of a third.■ MEMBERS OF Hadassah Israel are gearing up for their National Conference to be held on February 12 and 13 at the newly renovated Carlton Hotel in Nahariya. The conference, which is sponsored by the Lilach Chapter of Hadassah of Karmiel, will feature lectures in Hebrew and English. Participants include Sigal Shaltiel, CEO of the Ministry for the Development of the Negev and the Galilee; Taly Omar, deputy CEO of the Galilee Development Authority; Arnon Sofer, a geostrategy specialist and senior lecturer at the University of Haifa; Brigadier General (res.) Eyal Giladi, chairman of the Western Galilee College; Dr. Masad Barhoum, director of the Western Galilee Hospital in Nahariya; Moti Segal, a veteran of the Strauss Group; and representatives of a project that supports businesses for women in the Galilee. And that’s only part of what awaits participants.■ FORGET ABOUT the usual formality that is part of the protocol when the mayor of one city visits the municipality of another.It’s well known in Tel Aviv that Mayor Ron Huldai is a cycling enthusiast – and it just so happens that Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat is a bike fan as well. So when Barkat went to Tel Aviv to see what was doing in the city that never stops, Huldai, instead of taking him around in a car, took him on a bike ride so that he could get up close to everything.Both mayors enjoyed the experience; and when it’s Barkat’s turn to reciprocate, he will take Huldai on a bike ride through the capital. The two intend to take each other on bike rides through their respective cities several times a year.