The Jerusalem Post

First deaf lawmaker sworn in to Knesset

MK Shirley Pinto is an advocate for empowering people with disabiliti­es


Shirley Pinto of Yamina was sworn in as a Knesset member on Wednesday morning, becoming the first deaf member of the Israeli parliament.

Pinto’s party leader, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, made a point of attending her swearing-in. She was embraced by many MKs after she took the oath.

“This is one of the most exciting moments for me personally and for the State of Israel,” Bennett said. “Shirley proves with her actions that anything is possible.”

Pinto told reporters at the Knesset that she was emotional about being sworn in to the parliament, which she called a dream come true.

She said she would advance bills requiring health fund clinics and bomb shelters to be disabled accessible.

She will be helped by a sign language interprete­r in the Knesset. A system of flashing lights will be installed in her office to alert her to vote, because she cannot hear voting alarms.

A staunch advocate for empowering people with disabiliti­es, Pinto has cultivated a successful career supporting people with disabiliti­es in general and deaf people in particular.

As the daughter of two deaf parents and the wife of a deaf

husband, Pinto has seen firsthand the barriers to accessibil­ity for those who rely on sign language. She has served as a lecturer at Bar-Ilan University’s sign language interpreti­ng

program and a volunteer as the Ramat Gan Municipali­ty’s adviser on disability affairs.

“I promise to do everything in

order to be your faithful messenger,” Pinto tweeted.

The Ruderman Family Foundation, where Shirley used to work, praised her on 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 Karin will work to improve the inclusion of 20% of the Israeli population – people with disabiliti­es.”

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 candidate 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 way.

In Blue and White, Aliyah and Integratio­n Minister Pnina Tamano-Shata, Science and Technology Minister Orit Farkash-Hacohen and Culture and Sport 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.

In Meretz, Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz and Environmen­tal Protection Minister Tamar Zandberg resigned. They were 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 former MK Zvi Hauser and Eilat Mayor Meir Yitzhak Halevy, who is the first-ever MK who lived his entire life in Eilat. [Former MK Shaul Mofaz was raised there.]

In Yesh Atid, Economy Minister Orna Barbivai and Tourism Minister Yoel Razvozov resigned to be replaced by Tania Mazarsky, the deputy mayor and director of Leumit Health Services Medical Centers in Karmiel, and Beersheba city councilwom­an Yasmin Sax Fridman, whom Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid called authentic representa­tives of the periphery.

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 will quit next week. Haifa City Councilwom­an Naama Lazimi will enter the Knesset in his place.

Likud MK Galit Distal Atbaryan told the plenum following the swearing-in that the Norwegian Law wasted public funds.

 ?? (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90) ?? SHIRLEY PINTO is sworn in at the Knesset yesterday.
(Yonatan Sindel/Flash90) SHIRLEY PINTO is sworn in at the Knesset yesterday.

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