Grapevine: Ms. Mayor?

This year will be a record year in the number of women who are flinging their hats into the mayoral ring.

miss holocaust 370 (photo credit: Sasson Tiram)
miss holocaust 370
(photo credit: Sasson Tiram)
MOST OF the focus with regard to municipal elections is on men, because in the past very few women ran for mayor, though a relatively large number vied for positions on municipal and regional councils. This year will be a record year in the number of women who are flinging their hats into the mayoral ring. Most of them have been trained by Ken, which in Hebrew means “yes” but is also an acronym for Koah Nashim (women power), which is holding a panel discussion today at 10 a.m. at Cinema City in Glilot. Television personality Lucy Aharish will act as moderator, with panelists Etty Luzatto, Brig.-Gen. Gila Khalifi, start-up and hi-tech guru Yossi Vardi and Ruby Ross. Participants will receive a copy of the Hebrew version of Lean In – Women, Work and the Will to Lead by former Facebook CEO Sheryl Sandberg.
Koah Nashim was founded in 2000 by Michal Yudin, a member of the WIZO executive who, as chairwoman for immigrant absorption during the period of mass immigration from the former Soviet Union, was less than impressed by the manner in which the needs of the new immigrants were handled by the government. From her experience in working with WIZO women, she believed that women, who are used to multitasking when running a household, would do a much better job. From this belief rose the desire to get more women into decision making roles. The organization she formed is called WEPower, an abbreviation for Women’s Electoral Power.
Of 256 local councils in Israel, only five are headed by women, with Netanya Mayor Miriam Feirberg, who was elected in 1998, holding the record. Health Minister Yael German was elected mayor of Herzliya in the same year but resigned in January 2013 to run for the Knesset.
Aside from the current incumbents, 37 women have indicated that they are running for mayor in their communities, and if MK Haneen Zoabi makes a final decision to run for mayor of Nazareth, that will bring the number up to 38. It would have been 39 if Aliza Bloch, who was a mayoral candidate in Beit Shemesh, had not withdrawn her candidacy. There are two women running against Haifa’s incumbent Yona Yahav – Einat Kalish-Rotem and Yulia Shtreim; and two women are running for mayor in Kfar Yona – Shosh Kahlon-Kidor and Meital Yitzhaki Toledano.
Other women who hope to be mayor are Hannah Golan, Ariel; Leah Malul, Ashkelon; Helen Gelber, Ashdod; Orly Solomon, Bnei Ayish; Efrat Mizrachi, Binyamina-Givat Ada; Limor Lahav, Eilat; Ofra Barak, Emek Hefer Regional Council; Lynn Kaplan, Even Yehuda; Lizzie Darlitza, Ganei Tikva; Tova Yosef, Gedera; Iris Avraham, Givatayim; Ilana Goldstein, Givat Ze’ev; Hedva Yehezekeli, Hadera; Anat Kanfu, Har Adar; Yaffa Yeger, Herzliya; Dalit Laufer, Hevel Modi’in Regional Council; Aviva Guterman, Hod Hasharon; Kinneret Arnon-Amar, Kiryat Arba; Liat Arbel, Kiryat Ono; Limor Lugassi, Lehavim; Gabi Bat Zakkai, Ma’aleh Adumim; Raali Ezra, Ma’alot; Hedva Shaked, Meitar; Ofra Finkelstein, Migdal Ha’emek; Nona Chen, Or Yehuda; Sima Perry, Ra’anana; Nurit Avner, Ramat Hasharon; Liel Even-Zohar, Rishon Lezion, which is where Hannah Levin was elected as Israel’s first female mayor in 1956; Sari Sela, Rosh Ha’ayin; Esti Zahav, Tiberias; Yaela Machlis, Yahud; Ronit Ehrenfreund-Cohen, Yavne; and Ayelet Abramovich, Zichron Ya’acov.
THE WORLD is full of cynics and skeptics whose aim in life seems to be to pour cold water on good ideas. Thus when the second annual Miss Holocaust Survivor beauty contest was announced, there were those who decried it, saying, “Who needs it?” and “What’s the point?” Despite the many cynics and skeptics, some of whom expressed their negative views via Facebook, the contest went ahead at the Haifa Romema Sports Arena, where 2,500 people, including Mayor Yona Yahav, were in attendance to demonstrate their support and approval.
One of the judges was media personality Judy Shalom Nir Mozes, who on her radio show on Reshet Bet the following morning castigated the skeptics, saying that she had been greatly moved when meeting all the contestants personally to share their excitement and to hear their stories. The women received a lot of pampering throughout the day she said, and it was really thrilling for them to be the center of so much attention. She brought winner Shoshana Kolmer, a 94-year-old Auschwitz survivor, on to the show to tell her how much she admired her, how proud she was of her and how pleased she was to have met her.
JSNM did not forget to heap praise on Shimon Sabag, the founding director of Yad Ezer Le’Haver, who for years has been taking care of the needs of Holocaust survivors in Haifa and who envisaged a comfortable sheltered living facility for them but didn’t have sufficient funding for the project. The International Christian Embassy Jerusalem came to the rescue and helped to create a facility that takes up an entire street. All the survivors living in the facility have been assigned their own apartments, which gives them a sense of independence, even though they are living in a semi-urban kibbutz environment.
People who want to host a Holocaust survivor in their home or to take him or her with them to family or friends are asked to call 1-800-241-201-118.