Women to Light Up Israeli Independence Day

For the first time, all 12 beacons at the ceremony on Mount Herzl will be lit by women.

Leora Eren Frucht
Leora Eren Frucht
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Israeli soldiers place national flags on the graves of Israeli soldiers at the Mount Herzl military cemetery in Jerusalem on April 30, 2014.
Soldiers placing flags at Mount Herzl on Wednesday. Credit: AFP
Leora Eren Frucht
Leora Eren Frucht

Israel’s official Independence Day ceremony, held every year at the Mount Herzl national cemetery, ushers in the end of Memorial Day. This year it’s being broadcast live at 8 P.M. on Monday.

The heart of the ceremony is the lighting of 12 beacons, one for each of the tribes of Israel. Every year a dozen Israelis are selected for this honor by a special committee.

This year, for the first time, all the torch-lighters will be women — the brainchild of Culture and Sports Minister Limor Livnat. The committee evidently had a hard time narrowing down the list of candidates; the 12 beacons will be lit by 14 women:

Adina Bar Shalom, an educator (and daughter of late Shas spiritual leader Ovadia Yosef), will light a torch and on Tuesday receive the Israel Prize for Lifetime Achievement for her advancement of  higher education among ultra-Orthodox women.

Orna Barbivai, the first woman to achieve the rank of major general, heads the Israel Defense Forces personnel directorate.

Pascale Bercovitch, a French-born Paralympic athlete and motivational speaker, will light a torch with Shahar Peer, Israel’s highest-ranking tennis player ever — No. 11 in 2011.

Geula Cohen, a fighter in prestate undergrounds, Israel Prize winner, former right-wing MK and party founder (and mother of Likud MK Tzachi Hanegbi), will light a torch with 17-year-old Gal Yoseph, chairwoman of the National Students Council.

Maxine Fassberg, CEO of Intel Israel, the country’s largest high-tech company.

Carmela Menashe, a veteran military affairs reporter for Army Radio.

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

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

Kira Radinsky, a young researcher at the Technion whose work on data mining makes it possible to predict events and patterns.

Hindia Suleiman, the only Arab among the torch-lighters, is founder of a groundbreaking women’s entrepreneurial venture in the Israeli Arab village of Bu’eine-Nujeidat.

Belaynesh Zevadia, an Ethiopian-born immigrant, is Israel’s ambassador to Ethiopia.

Miriam Zohar, a theater actress and 1986 Israel Prize winner.

Maxine Fassberg, Intel's general manager in Israel.
Carmela Menashe.
Adina Bar Shalom’s biggest fan was her father, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef.
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Maxine Fassberg, Intel's general manager in Israel.Credit: Ilya Melnikov
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Carmela Menashe.Credit: Tomer Appelbaum
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Adina Bar Shalom’s biggest fan was her father, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef.Credit: Tomer Appelbaum

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