On the margins of all the reports and commentaries about the prime minister's trip to Washington, the media made sure to note that his wife, Sara Netanyahu, will apparently not meet First Lady Michelle Obama. Some articles explained that Michelle Obama is out of town, and some did not miss the chance to use headlines such as "Sara arrives at the White House, Michelle disappears." Inspired by all all this, I am writing Sara an open letter, discussing the status of "first lady."
Sara, I recall well what happened to you during Benjamin Netanyahu's first term as prime minister, all the negative news, how they enjoyed attacking you. You, for your part, did not remain passive; you filed slander suits, you got angry and criticized. This time you have learned your lesson and stayed behind, rarely appearing in public.
I would like to say to you: Don't be guided by this petty accounting. Don't run your life based on what they tell you, or what you're afraid they'll say about what you do. You are in a position of strength, in the spotlight, which you can use to benefit the many who need you. You are a child psychologist by profession; who knows as well as you how many children need the government's attention and care? Here you can pitch in and help.
I have no doubt that the work you're doing on an individual basis is praiseworthy. But you have received what Michelle Obama calls "one of the best jobs in the world," because it can be used to help women change their lives.
It's true, that's the United States, they're much more accepting there, certainly when it comes to the Obamas, but really it's also because of what's being done. For example, on Tuesday, Michelle Obama spoke at an event in Washington about her decision to stop working for a corporation and find a job that empowers the community. She also discussed her parents' financial difficulties, which prevented her from taking such a job when she was young. Next week she will meet with families of U.S. soldiers, and a month ago, in an interview with Oprah Winfrey, she spoke about women's tremendous difficulties in doing everything expected of them without support systems. She noted the urgent need to reorganize support groups, so the burden won't fall on women.
On Friday, Obama delivered her first commencement address as first lady, at the University of California, Merced, a campus only four years old in a city of 80,000. She went because the students invited her. They invited her because they thought she "understands our desire for historical change." So she came. Wouldn't you have come? Wouldn't you want to be a model of inspiration for students?
In her speech, Obama said: "You, too, can have this same transformative effect on the community of Merced and our entire nation .... Dream big, think broadly about your life, and please make giving back to your community a part of that vision."
Obama sees herself as part of an inspirational dynasty; she quoted Marian Wright Edelman, the first black woman hired by a law firm in Mississippi who devoted her legal activity to the struggle for human rights. "Service is the rent we pay for living ... it is the true measure, the only measure of our success."
Dear Sara, at the beginning of your husband's first term you were involved in various activities; you were the chairwoman of Yad BeYad (Hand in Hand) for children in distress, and honorary president of Tsad Kadima (A Step Forward) for children who suffer from cerebral palsy. I also remember the tremendous energy and strong desire for action you showed when you answered our invitation to provide sponsorship for Ezrat Nashim's major launching event for victims of sexual attacks.
I beg of you to take all that energy and talent and use your position to tell young women about the difficulties you experienced, to instill hope and bring about change. You can do it. If God is willing, perhaps She will ensure that it happens to you, and to your husband, may he live a long life.
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