Haredi Rabbi’s Feminist Daughter Joining Kadima

Heidi Moses, a divorced mother of two, plans to focus on women’s rights.

Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis

The daughter of Rabbi Menachem Eliezer Moses, chairman of the Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) United Torah Judaism faction, is planning to contend for a place on Kadima’s Knesset list and advance a feminist agenda.

“Women didn’t come to the world just to serve someone, they are here in their own right. I know I’m going to fight for all women,” said Heidi Moses, 28, a divorced mother of two. “I believe that with [Kadima chairwoman Tzipi] Livni as prime minister, the public’s confidence in the government will be restored. Livni is an honest woman. We need her integrity.”
Heidi Moses abandoned the ultra-Orthodox world about five years ago, after many years in which she felt it was no longer suitable for her.

Heidi Moses in the Knesset this week. Credit: Olivier Fitoussi

“As far as I’m concerned, I felt the change from the age of eight,” she said. “I didn’t like the way things were. When I was 14, I used to play soccer in the neighborhood. Then my parents sent me to England to study in an ultra-Orthodox school with other ‘not-so ultra-Orthodox’ girls.”

“I’m not ultra-Orthodox; I’m a believer,” she said. “I don’t use definitions. They are restricting. Generally speaking, I’m Jewish. I believe in the people’s unity. We are all alike, only the clothes set us apart. I’m the proof of that.”

Moses says she grew up in a political atmosphere at home. “My father was always close to that world. I was always socially active,” she said.

A few years ago, she saw a picture of Livni in a newspaper and decided to join Kadima. “I still appeared ultra-Orthodox. I told my father I was voting for Kadima and that Livni would be prime minister someday. My father said, ‘If you say so, I’m not going to argue with you.’ I think I was the only one who put a Kadima slip in the Bar-Ilan ballot box,” she said, referring to a heavily ultra-Orthodox Jerusalem street.

When MK Moses ran for election, he wondered how to respond to questions about his daughter’s lifestyle. “He asked me, ‘Heidi, what will we do? I have a daughter who acts differently from the way I raised the rest of my children.’ I told him very clearly he could not look at politics only through his own party. ‘As soon as the public, both ultra-Orthodox and secular, sees the respect you have for me and my lifestyle, it will appreciate and respect you,’ I said. That solved his dilemma. We are so close today.”

Her father and the rest of the family have learned to accept the change in her life. “Today they support me. When they saw I was going into politics and that was the reason for leaving, they took it honorably. Believers like to say every person has a role in the world. This appears to be my role.”

Heidi Moses is no newcomer to the Knesset, which she visits every week to advance various social causes. “I wouldn’t call it lobbying as such. I try to promote social causes, to help people,” she said.

She set up an organization to help ultra-Orthodox girls who fell victim to domestic violence and has helped other people in distress, sometimes via family and political connections.



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