Rachel Azaria joins Kahlon’s Kulanu party
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Rachel Azaria joins Kahlon’s Kulanu party

Deputy mayor of Jerusalem has a record of fighting for women’s rights, against religious coercion

Lazar Berman is a former breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Leader of the Kulanu political party Moshe Kahlon (R) and Rachel Azaria hold a joint press conference in Jerusalem on January 6, 2015. (photo credit: Ben Kelmer/Flash90)
Leader of the Kulanu political party Moshe Kahlon (R) and Rachel Azaria hold a joint press conference in Jerusalem on January 6, 2015. (photo credit: Ben Kelmer/Flash90)

Deputy Jerusalem Mayor Rachel Azaria has officially joined the Kulanu party ahead of the March 2015 elections, party founder Moshe Kahlon announced Tuesday.

“Rachel is with us because she understands, like we do, that wherever you turn you run into monopolies and power groups,” said Kahlon during a Jerusalem press conference as he presented Azaria.

Azaria said she joined Kahlon’s list because he “knows how to change things, he does a great deal to benefit citizens of Israel, and he knows how to improve the daily lives of citizens.”

“When Moshe Kahlon asked me a while back what I would want to do for families in Israel, I knew immediately,” she added. “Bring to the entire country the revolution we created in Jerusalem, and much more. Because on the national level, there are many more possibilities and levers of change.”

Azaria is head of the Yerushalmim faction on the Jerusalem city council, and in the past served as the director of Mavoi Satum, a nonprofit organization helping women denied a gett (Jewish divorce) by their husbands. In the Jerusalem Municipality, she holds the education portfolio and women’s rights portfolio.

Azaria was first elected to the city council in 2008, and held the early childhood education and community councils portfolios in her first term. In 2013 she was reelected and appointed deputy mayor.

Azaria is an active leader in the struggle against the exclusion of women from the Israeli public sphere, and gained international recognition as a leading Orthodox feminist.

In her role as head of the Yerushalmim party, Azaria advanced the “Community Kashrut,” project, which aims to make the kosher certificate on food items an issue of trust between businesses selling or serving food and their patrons. On its website, Yerushalmim says the project will open the market of kashrut to competition. The project also aims to wrest control over kashrut certificates from the Chief Rabbinate, which is currently the sole body in the country allowed to officially brand food as kosher.

Kulanu party chairman Moshe Kahlon (L) and Dr. Yifat Sasha-Biton on January 5, 2015 (screen capure: Channel 2)
Kulanu party chairman Moshe Kahlon (L) and Dr. Yifat Sasha-Biton on January 5, 2015 (screen capure: Channel 2)

Azaria lives in the Katamonim (Gonenim) neighborhood of Jerusalem with her husband and four children. She holds a BA in psychology and MA in conflict resolution, both from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Kahlon, a former Likud minister, has previously announced the identity of only three other members of his Knesset list: former ambassador to the US Michael Oren, Israel Prize winner Eli Alaluf, and Yifat Sasha-Biton, a former deputy mayor of Kiryat Shmona.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report. 

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