History was made after Blue and White leader Benny Gantz appointed an ultra-Orthodox woman to serve as a cabinet minister in the Knesset, Israel’s parliament.
Omer Yankelevich, 41, will replace current Diaspora Affairs Minister Tzipi Hotovely when the new government is sworn in on Sunday.
Yankelevich is married with five children and lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.
She attended the Rabbi Wolf Women’s Seminary in Bnei Brak and continued to higher education studies at the Gateshead Seminary in England. She completed a Master of Laws degree at Bar-Ilan University and is also a certified mediator.
In 2015, Yankelevich established the Just Begun Foundation, an organization designed for the development and promotion of social projects in Israel’s ultra-Orthodox communities. She also established a center for Jewish art called “Art and Emuna” – ‘Emuna is Hebrew for ‘faith’ – to help promote and encourage ultra-Orthodox artists.
Jewish leaders worldwide expressed hope that Yankelevich will be successful in uniting Israel with the Jewish Diaspora.
“I am sure that Minister Yankelevich will be able to construct meaningful networks just like she did while leading a series of social ventures between various groups within Israeli society, as well as communities in the center of the country and in the periphery,” said World Bnei Akiva Secretary-General Roi Abecassis in a statement.
Rabbi Josh Weinberg, executive director of the Association of Reform Zionists of America (ARZA), said he looks forward to working with Yankelovich in favor of “pluralism, tolerance and unity.”