Disability is a matter of perception. If you can do just one thing well, you are needed by someone. This is the truth because, in life, your present circumstances don’t determine where you can go. They only determine where you start. Shirley Pinto of the Yamina party has become the first deaf member of the Israeli parliament despite her disability. MK Shirley Pinto has over the years, cultivated a successful career supporting people with disabilities in general and deaf people in particular.
Pinto was sworn in as a Knesset member on Wednesday morning.
She received tones of hugs from many MKs after she took the oath.
Shirley used to work The Ruderman Family Foundation. She received praises from her former employer for becoming an MK.
“We’re delighted to see Shirley Pinto enter the halls of power and be a force of positive change,” said Jay Ruderman, the foundation’s president. “I’m confident she will be a strong voice for inclusion and accessibility for those with disabilities. I applaud Yamina and the new government for warmly welcoming her. Shirley will join [Energy Minister] Karin Elharrar, the first Israeli minister with disabilities. I know both Shirley and Karine will work to improve the inclusion of 20% of the Israeli population- people with disabilities.”
Pinto’s party leader, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, made a point of attending the swearing-in of Pinto.
As the daughter of two deaf parents, Pinto saw first-hand the barriers to accessibility for those who rely on sign language. Since then, she has served as a lecturer at Bar-Ilan University’s Sign Language Interpreting program and a volunteer as Ramat Gan Municipality’s adviser on disability affairs.
“I promise to do everything to be your faithful messenger,” Pinto tweeted.
Pinto replaced Religious Services Minister Matan Kahana, who resigned in accordance with the Norwegian Law.
The law enables ministers to resign their Knesset seats to allow the next candidates on their party lists to take their place. Any minister who subsequently leaves the cabinet automatically reverts to becoming an MK and displaces the person for whom they made their way. The number of ministers from each party that can resign is currently limited based on the size of the party, though the government intends to increase the size of that cap.
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In Blue and White, Aliyah and Integration Minister Pnina Tamano-Shata, Science and Technology Minister Orit Farkash-Hacohen, and Culture and Sports Minister Chili Tropper resigned their Knesset seats. They were replaced by Mofid Mari, a Druze activist and former mayor of Hurfeish, a Druze village in the Upper Galilee; Cape Town-raised former MK Ruth Wasserman Lande and veteran environmentalist Alon Tal.
MK Ruth Wasserman Lande (Courtesy)MK Ruth Wasserman Lande (Courtesy)
Tal was born and raised in Raleigh, North Carolina. He is the founder of the Israel Union for Environmental Defense and the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies and was appointed as chairman of Tel Aviv University’s Department of Public Policy in 2017.
Tal will be the eighth US-born MK, following Yehuda Ben-Meir (National Religious Party), Marcia Freedman (Meretz), Meir Kahane (Kach), Dov Lipman (Yesh Atid), Michael Oren (Kulanu), Yehudah Glick (Likud), and Moshe Tur-Paz (Yesh Atid).
“May I have the strength, the courage, and the wisdom to bring benefit to my country and its people,” Wasserman Lande said in response to her return to the Knesset.
In Yamina, Religious Services Minister Matan Kahana resigned and will be replaced by deaf activist Shirley Pinto.
In Meretz, Environmental Protection Minister Tamar Zandberg and Regional Cooperation Minister Esawi Frej resigned. They will be replaced by former MK Michal Rozin and former Tel Aviv city councilwoman Gaby Lasky, a controversial human-rights lawyer who often represents Palestinians in cases against the IDF.
In New Hope, Communications Minister Yoaz Hendel and Construction and Housing Minister Ze’ev Elkin quit in favor of Eilat Mayor Meir Yitzhak Halevy and former MK Zvi Hauser.
In Yesh Atid, Economy Minister Orna Barbivay resigned. She was replaced by Tania Mazarsky, the deputy mayor and director of Leumit Health Services Medical Centers in Karmiel. Tourism Minister Yoel Razvozov resigned in favor of Beersheba city councilwoman Yasmin Sax Fridman.
Yisrael Beytenu ministers Avigdor Liberman, Oded Forer, and Hamed Amar quit the Knesset on Monday morning. Their replacements are Tel Aviv University School of Government head Yossi Shein, attorney Limor Magen Telem and Elina Bardach-Yalov.
In Labor, Public Security Minister Omer Barlev quit via the Norwegian Law. Haifa city councilwoman Naama Lazimi will enter the Knesset in his place next week.
Likud MK Galit Distal Atbaryan told the plenum following the swearing-in that the Norwegian Law wasted public funds.