Haredi mother of 11 is first woman to be appointed deputy chief of fire service

Rachel Pisam of Bnei Brak, appointed head of manpower department, says she doesn’t know ‘if it would have been possible a decade ago’

Rachel Pisam, the first woman to achieve the rank of deputy chief in the Fire and Rescue Service (Courtesy)
Rachel Pisam, the first woman to achieve the rank of deputy chief in the Fire and Rescue Service (Courtesy)

Rachel Pisam, an ultra-Orthodox mother of 11 and grandmother of 18, has become the first woman given the rank of deputy chief in the Fire and Rescue Service.

Pisam, 55, was appointed Tuesday to head the manpower department, and is the first woman to attain the rank in the service, the equivalent of a general in the IDF.

“There is no more worthy and important choice than this,” Public Security Minister Omer Barlev said. “Rachel is a trailblazer, and will be the first woman to be awarded the rank of deputy chief… a story of beautiful Israel.”

He continued: “I have no doubt that Rachel will be an outstanding example not just to women in general but to all boys and girls in Haredi society who seek to join the workforce.”

“My children told me I’m their source of pride,” Ynet quoted Pisam as saying.

“A woman in such a position… and in uniform, breaks the glass ceiling for both women and the Haredi people. I don’t know if it would have been possible a decade ago,” she said.

Haredi men and women walk in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Mea Shearim, September 23, 2020. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Pisam, a resident of Bnei Brak, explained that she had nothing but support from her family and her community in pursuing her career ambitions.

In addition to her rabbi, Pisam said she had the blessing of her husband and children, who “pushed me to fulfill my dream. My neighbors and friends said they’d be proud to see me in uniform with the new rank.”

Pisam previously held the rank of major in the Air Force and holds degrees in social science and public policy from the Hebrew University.

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