NEW YORK (VINnews) — Jewish people sometimes take for granted the incredible sacrifice involved in the lives of Jewish career women who have large families. Many of these women are torn between their demanding jobs and their sense of obligation to their families and make herculean efforts to maintain both roles successfully.
It is therefore noteworthy to see how the president of the most powerful country in the world related to one such woman when he met with her this week. Israeli President Rivlin, who is completing his 7-year tenure this week, came to visit President Biden together with his long-serving chief of staff Rivka Ravitz, a mother of 12 from Telzstone.
When the president heard that Ravitz is a mother of 12 children, he simply bowed down on one knee in a gesture of homage to Ravitz, who was taken aback by the president’s humble gesture.
The president then stood up and said: “I have a picture here of my own mother. You have to see what she was like!”
Ravitz (45), who immigrated to Israel from the US as a young girl, has worked for Rivlin for the past 20 years after starting her career in the Knesset as parliamentary aide to her late father-in-law Rabbi Avraham Ravitz.
She went on to serve as Rivlin’s bureau chief, and managed many of his campaigns, including his successful campaigns for Speaker of the Knesset in 2003 and 2009, and his election as President of Israel in 2014, whereupon she became his chief of staff.
As chief of staff, Ravitz oversees Rivlin’s entire staff, and schedules all his meetings and state visits, both in Israel and abroad. She also selects the gifts he gives on state visits. She oversees the hundreds of weekly letters issued from the president’s office, including many that are translated into foreign languages. She accompanies Rivlin on most of his appearances at local events, as well as foreign visits to heads of state.
Ravitz considers her high-profile position an opportunity to display her religious commitment and make a Kiddush Hashem (sanctification of God’s name). She wears modest clothing and covers her hair with a wig. She does not fraternize with male colleagues or participate in “staff-consolidation days”, and refrains from shaking hands when greeting men, in keeping with halakha. During Rivlin’s 2015 visit to the Vatican, a photograph showing Pope Francis bowing to Ravitz while she remained erect led to media reports that the Haredi woman had refused to bow in greeting because Francis was wearing a cross. Later news reports clarified that Ravitz had bowed to Francis first, in lieu of shaking hands, and he had responded with his own bow, having been informed beforehand of her religious sensitivities.