Women Only to Light Israel's Official Independence Day Torches This Year

Select list of 14 includes tennis star Shahar Pe'er, scientist Kira Radinsky and women's venture founder Hindia Suleiman.

Belaynesh Zevadia - Foreign Ministry - February 2012
Newly-appointed ambassador to Ethiopia Belaynesh Zevadia. Foreign Ministry

The Independence Day torches at the official state ceremony will be lit exclusively by women this year.

Limor Livnat, the minister of Culture & Sport, approved Tuesday a list of 14 women to light the torches at the close of Memorial Day and start of Independence Day on May 5. The women were chosen by a public committee.

"I congratulate the 14 women chosen this year to light the torches," Livnat stated, saying that each had made a significant contribution to advancing the state and Israeli society. "All are worthy and have made impressive achievements." Women have played a central role in Israel from its foundation.

"Women are the factor that unites us all," Livnat said. "Each of us came from a woman's womb and each of us has a woman [in their lives]. Mother. Aunt. Friend. Neighbor. Grandmother. Sister. Daughter. At least one.

The variegated list represents a "unique mosaic " of Israeli society and inspires female self-empowerment, she added. Each made a significant contribution in different areas, from sports to science to the military and to culture, to name but a few.

The 14 women are:

Adina Bar-Shalom, who on Wednesday was also chosen to receive the Israel Prize for her "pioneering work to bridge societal rifts and socioeconomic gaps and to promote an ultra-Orthodox lifestyle that includes social openness and higher education. She is the daughter of the deceased spiritual leader of the Shas Party, Ovadia Yosef.

Miriam Zohar, theater actress and recipient of the Israel Prize in 1986.
Kira Radinsky, expert on predictive data mining at the Technion University.

Belaynesh Zevadia, ambassador to Ethiopia.

Carmela Menashe, military affairs reporter for Army Radio.

Orna Barbivai, the first woman to achieve the rank of Major General, head of the Manpower Division.

Hindia Suleiman, founder of a unique women's venture in the Israeli Arab village of Bu'eina-Nujeidat.

Tali Peretz-Cohen, manager of a center to help victims of sexual assault in the Galilee and Golan.

Maxine Fassberg, CEO of Intel Israel.

Miriam Peretz, educator and mother of two Israeli army officers who fell in the line of duty.

Shahar Pe'er, tennis star, who will light a torch together with Paralympics athlete Pascal Noa Bercovitch.

Geula Cohen, former member of Knesset, who will light a torch together with Gal Yoseph, chairwoman of the National Students Council.