Nadia Hilou, who served as the Knesset’s first female Christian representative, passed away Thursday night at age 61.
Hilou served in the Labor-Meimad party from 2006-2009 and was the chairwoman of the Committee on the Rights of the Child during her tenure in the 17th Knesset. She died after a long battle with an unspecified illness.
“Nadia donated much of her time to social causes,” family members were reported as saying in an article by Ynet. “She always helped others and was involved in every social struggle. She stayed strong until her final day.”
A social worker, Hilou was active in a number of women’s groups and dedicated her life to helping eradicate poverty in Israel, especially within minority groups. She was the founder of Manara, an organization that gives voice to female Arab leaders, and previously served as Deputy Chairwoman of Na’amat — an Israeli women’s group associated with the Labor Party that predates the state.
During her term in the Knesset, Hilou helped pass legislation that protected children from sexual predators on the Internet and lent key support to a bill that compensated the families of murder victims.
She ran for Knesset elections in 2013 with the Labor Party, but did not win a seat.
Zionist Union leader Isaac Herzog, who served with Hilou in the Labor Party, expressed his sorrow for her passing: “We are filled with sorrow and grief as we mourn former MK Nadia Hilou, who passed before her time. Nadia served as an MK for Labor and had a reputation for fighting on behalf of the non-Jewish sectors of this country.”
“Nadia fought bravely for the rights and status of women in Arab society and the State of Israel. She was a leader who struggled against poverty and inequality with all her might,” Herzog said.
“I will remember Nadia as a strong, brave, optimistic, and radiant woman who worked across many sectors and shattered both glass ceilings and checkpoints; she cherished peace and coexistence above all. My deepest condolences to the family, the community and her many friends,” he added.
Hilou was buried on Friday at St. Anthony’s Church in her birthplace of Jaffa. She is survived by her husband and four daughters — Natali, Cristina, Rola and Rena.