Unity without Uniformity in Israel
A Conversation with Dana Sender-Mulla
In 2008, eight Jewish women leaders of different ages, backgrounds, and religious affiliations came together in Utah to brainstorm how to make the world a better place — and one year later, the Jewish Women’s Renaissance Project was born. Ten years later, 13 of Israel’s most powerful women leaders came together, too. They are top business leaders, government officials, educators, journalists, and CEOs. They also come from an array of backgrounds — and they have all joined the JWRP’s Public Council in Israel to make Israel a better place. In our conversation with JWRP Israel Director Dana Sender-Mulla, she shares how the Public Council in Israel hopes to impact Israel, and what compelled these accomplished Israeli leaders to join.
Why was the Public Council in Israel created?
By creating a council of women leaders who vary in age, political beliefs, religious affiliation, and professional focus, we can show Israeli society that we support unity without uniformity. The Public Council in Israel can help us bring this important value to fruition in Israel, while guiding us in growing the JWRP Community in Israel in ways that unite and positively impact the many voices of Israel.
Can you tell us about several of the council members?
Lihi Lapid is an accomplished journalist, storyteller, and the bestselling author of several books. She is an important voice in Israel on contemporary women’s issues and motherhood. Rivka Ravitz is the Chief of Staff for the President of Israel, and the mother of 11 children. Michal Cohen is the CEO of Keren Rashi, one of Israel’s largest philanthropic funds, which promotes social mobility and creates opportunities in Israel’s education and welfare systems. She is also the former Director General of Israel’s Education Ministry. Orna Hozman-Bechor is the Chairwoman of the Ashdod Port, which is a very complex, male-dominated organization, and she’s doing amazing things in the position. Miriam Peretz, also known as the mother of the Israel Defense Forces, is an Israeli educator who lost two sons during their army service. She won the Israel Prize in 2018 for devoting her life to educating people about Judaism and Zionism, supporting bereaved families and injured Israeli soldiers, and inspiring people with her resilience. These women are several of our incredible council members.
Why did these women leaders join the Public Council in Israel?
It wasn’t easy to schedule meetings with each woman. They’re very accomplished, powerful leaders in Israel, and they are constantly approached by organizations about different opportunities. More than one woman told Founding Director Lori Palatnik and me, “I am very busy. I say no to everything. But, I’ll say yes to this.” Each Public Council member believes in the JWRP’s goal of creating unity, without uniformity in Israel. They feel a sense of mutual responsibility for Jews in Israel and across the world.
What would unity without uniformity look like in Israeli society?
Israeli society brings together the largest Jewish population in the world. Do you know the phrase, ‘Two Jews, three opinions?’ Now imagine how many opinions, ideas, needs, and wants are present in Israel! Because there isn’t one right way to live, we must learn to live together, respect one another, and accept our differences. We believe that the women in our Public Council in Israel, who are all leaders in Israel and come from far-reaching backgrounds, can help us lead this important change in Israel.
Can you tell us about a time when there was unity without uniformity in Israel?
One of our council members is Rachelle Sprecher-Fraenkel, a Torah educator and the Director of Matan’s Hilkhata Institute. In the summer of 2014, her teenage son, Naftali, was kidnapped and tragically murdered by terrorists, together with two of his friends. Rachelle has said that during this horrific time, she received love and support from Israelis from all backgrounds. She felt that it was a time of true unity for the Jewish people. The JWRP and the Public Council in Israel strive to bring unity, without uniformity to Israel both in times of crisis and also in our day-to-day lives.
Learn about the JWRP’s Public Council in Israel here.