|Date of birth||21 December 1977|
|Place of birth||Jerusalem, Israel|
|Faction represented in Knesset|
Rachel Azaria (Hebrew: רחל עזריה, born 21 December 1977), is an Israeli politician, currently serving as a member of the Knesset for Kulanu She previously served as deputy mayor and member of the Jerusalem City Council.
Rachel Azaria was born in Jerusalem to Israel Azaria, a Tunisian-Jewish immigrant to Israel, and Sharon Friedman, an American Jewish immigrant to Israel. She grew up on moshav Beit Gamliel and was educated in the National Religious school system. After serving in the Israel Defense Forces, Azaria studied at Hebrew University of Jerusalem, where she earned a BA in Psychology and Humanities, with honor, and a master's degree in conflict resolution and peace studies. She won the Tami Steinmetz Prize for her master's thesis on the self-perception of the founders of the first Israeli settlements in Samaria. She was a member of the debating team at the Hebrew University, participating in debates in the European and World Championships. She participated in the Shalom Hartman Institute's Young National Religious Leadership program from 2001 to 2003. She is fluent in English.
Since 1998, Azaria has been engaged in environmental activism. She serves as a member of the Board of Green Course, Israel's largest volunteer environmental organization. She has also been involved in issues related to Israel's national health basket, the Ashkelon coal plant, and the social impact of government economic plans.
Azaria was Director of Mavoi Satum from 2004-2007. It is a nonprofit organization which assists Jewish women who have been denied a gett, a religiously accepted divorce, by their husbands. Under her leadership, the number of women who received a gett with assistance from organization tripled, and Mavoi Satum won recognition as the main advocacy organization in this field in Israel.
In 2008 Azaria was elected to the Jerusalem City Council. In her first term she held the early childhood education and community councils portfolios. But in 2011 The Jewish Daily Forward interviewed Azaria about punishment she had suffered on the council for standing up for legal rights of women. Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat stripped her of her portfolios to punish her for petitioning Israel's High Court of Justice to enforce an earlier ruling requiring police to prevent illegal gender segregation on the streets of Mea Shearim, an ultra-Orthodox neighborhood of Jerusalem.
After her reelection in 2013 she was appointed Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem, and now serves as head of the Yerushalmim faction on the Jerusalem city council. As of January 2015, she holds the education portfolio and women's rights portfolio. As leader of the Yerushalmim party, Azaria has promoted "Community Kashrut," an effort to make kosher certification on food items a matter of trust between food establishments and their customers. Yerushalmim expects the project to open the kosher market to greater competition and to dislodge the monopoly the Chief Rabbinate of Israel exercises in Israel as the only source of kosher certification. A poll conducted by the Israel Democracy Institute in April and May 2014 of which institutions were most and least trusted by Israeli citizens showed that the Chief Rabbinate was one of the least trusted.
When a company responsible for placing ads on Jerusalem buses refused to run a campaign poster with her picture on it because ultra-Orthodox Jews object to posting women's pictures in public places, Azaria petitioned the court to force the buses to carry her ads. She has been engaged in the campaign to fight various types of exclusion, such as banning women from singing in public, separating women from men on city sidewalks, forcing women to sit at the back of the bus and the elimination of pictures of women in advertising.
In 2014, Azaria spoke at a peace rally condemning all forms of violence: "We all, Haredim, secular, religious Zionists and Palestinians are against violence, in our city and everywhere."
In January 2015, she joined Moshe Kahlon's Kulanu party, and announced that she would seek a Knesset seat under the party's banner. While Israelis can hold dual citizenship, a Basic Law passed in 1958 says that Knesset members cannot pledge allegiance as parliamentarians unless they give up foreign citizenship. Azaria renounced her American citizenship before joining the Knesset in March.
In December 2015, the Knesset approved a preliminary reading of legislation Azaria sponsored to enable fathers to take more time off from work to care for their infants. The proposed changes to the Women's Labor Law and the National Insurance Law passed with a vote of 49 in favor and none against.
Views and opinions
In a panel at the Brookings Institution, Azaria stated the efforts to promote women's rights has served as a bridge between Orthodox Jewish women and Israeli Arab women who grapple with similar issues and have begun to push for a voice in their communities.
Azaria is married to Elyashiv, a Talmud teacher, and has four children, and lives in Jerusalem. She held US citizenship prior to her entering the Knesset, when she had to give it up as a condition of becoming an MK.
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- "Rachel Azaria joins Kahlon's Kulanu party - The Times of Israel". The Times of Israel. Retrieved 19 January 2015.
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- "Jerusalem Official Opposes Segregation, Loses Role". The Jewish Daily Forward. 18 October 2011. Retrieved 19 January 2015.
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- "Jerusalem deputy mayor Azaria joins Kahlon's Koolanu Party". The Jerusalem Post - JPost.com. Retrieved 19 January 2015.
- Five new Knesset members renounce foreign citizenship The Times of Israel, 31 March 2015,
- Bill seeks to equalize care for newborns Times of Israel, Dec 2, 2015
- New politics of religion and gender in Israel Brookings, June 29, 2015
- Rachel Azaria on the Knesset website