Gantz appoints Israel’s first female ultra-Orthodox cabinet minister

Jewish leaders worldwide expressed hope that Yankelevich, chosen as the new Diaspora Affairs minister, will be successful in uniting Israel with Jewish communities outside of Israel.

By Aaron Sull, World Israel News

History was made on Thursday when Blue and White leader Benny Gantz appointed an ultra-Orthodox (haredi) 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 haredi communities. She also established a center for Jewish art called “Art and Emuna” – ‘Emuna is Hebrew for ‘faith’ – to help promote and encourage haredi 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.

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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.”

On Thursday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pushed off the swearing-in ceremony of Israel’s new government to Sunday because the allotment of ministerial positions has not yet been finalized.

As it now stands, this will be Israel’s largest government in its history with 36 ministers and 16 deputy ministers appointed to serve the Jewish State.