Israeli President’s Chareidi Office Manager Juggles Many Roles

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Rivkah Ravitz, daughter-in-law of the late MK Avrohom Ravitz, has served as Israeli President Reuven Rivlin’s office manager for the past 20 years. In addition to her fulltime job, she is also studying for a doctorate at Haifa University and raising eleven children in Beitar Illit. Speaking to reporter Sivan Rahav of Channel 2, Ravitz discussed how she juggles her different roles.

Rivlin recalled during the interview that he started with Ravitz when she was a 23 year old mother of two children. How did it begin?

“Rav Ravitz came to me and said, ‘Maybe try out my daughter-in-law; she knows a lot and is very talented.’ I said, ‘If you say so we’ll try it out,’ and from then onwards… Rivkah has worked for me for over twenty years.”

Ravitz helped him in the roles of MK, Knesset minister, Knesset Speaker and finally president of Israel. During all these years she never compromised her Yiddishkeit. This includes refraining from shaking Rivlin’s hand or the hands of the foreign dignitaries they meet on a constant basis.

A phone call from one of Ravitz’s children in the middle of the interview prompted Sivan to ask Ravitz: “What is more difficult? To run a home with eleven or to be office manager of the president of Israel?” To which Ravitz answered, “Both are more difficult.”

“The most difficult were the first three [children], good news for all mothers,” Ravitz said. “After, it only became easier and more fun.

“First of all, I learned,” she explained. “I made many mistakes… with my older ones. Also, they have each other. Not that they raise each other… I raise them all and they’re all my responsibility. But one way or another they have each other if they need something, just to express their feelings, it helps. It takes away from the mother’s pressure and burden and my life became much better.”

The interview was piecemeal, interrupted by the welcome of Singapore’s prime minister, the swearing in of some judges, and the hosting of Israel’s chief rabbis in the president’s garden.

Ravitz handles her many schedules by writing them all down in advance.

Ravitz admitted that there is a cost to living a double life.

“Yesterday, when my daughter phoned to say that she got engaged, I was at work finishing assignments and I simply began to cry. I said to myself, ‘Just a moment. What am I doing here?’ I closed down the computer, got in my car, and began driving to get to where she was.”

Back at home after work, Ravitz got a joyous welcome from her younger children and sat down to do homework with them. Her husband, deputy mayor of Beitar Illit, helped until she gets home.

“Itzik, my husband, is not only a support but a pusher, he absolutely gives me a lot of strength,” Ravitz said. “And he helps a lot.”

“I think that she provides an example of the fact that a person can do very many things at the same time,” Itzik interjected. “She may be exceptional, but she puts an obligation on us all.”

After putting the kids to bed, it’s time for Ravitz clean the balagan, do the wash, and prepare lunch for tomorrow. Then it’s time to finish emails, study, and prepare a dissertation for her Ph.D. at the Haifa University.

Ravitz sees herself as the humble representative of many chareidi women who need to integrate careers with their families. “We weren’t born to rest,” she says, while admitting that her children are her greatest purpose in life.

David Steger – Matzav.com Israel

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