“She used to sit under the Palm of Devora, between Rama and Beit El in the hill country of Efraim, and the Israelites would come to her for decisions.” Judges 4:5 (The Israel Bible™)
The Committee for Nominating Judges ratified the appointment of Chavi Tucker, an ultra-Orthodox mother of four, as Israel’s first female ultra-Orthodox judge Thursday.
Tucker, 41, holds an MA in law from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. She was born in England but grew up in Bnei Brak as the eldest of 12 children. Her father, Rabbi Rafael Wolff, was a long-time aide to Rabbi Elazar Menachem Man Shach, the founder of the Degel HaTorah political faction (now part of the United Torah Judaism Knesset faction) and studied at the prestigious Hebron Yeshiva in Jerusalem.
Tucker, 41, becomes the first haredi woman to sit on the Israeli bench. Last year, Rachel Freier, a member of the Bobov Hasidic community was nominated as a justice on the New York State civil court.
Contacted by TPS, Tucker said she was forbidden from speaking to the media in her new position. Spokespeople for several ultra-Orthodox MKs also declined to comment. But haredi women’s groups said they were “nothing less than delighted” by the appointment.
“How exciting it is to be part of a generation in which haredi women are meeting challenges and becoming an integral part of the power structure and decision-making process in this country,” said Ruth Colian, a former Shas Party activist who later founded U’Bizchutan, a haredi women’s political party after Shas refused to allow her to run on its ticket in the municipal elections in 2013.
“I congratulate Chavi Tucker and I hope that her new post will serve to advance women’s standing and rights in general, and those of haredi women in particular… This is the beginning a long road – I am full of hope that this appointment will pave the way for more haredi women to seek positions in the decision-making ranks of this country,” Colian told TPS.
The appointment is a landmark in a process declared two years ago by Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, who asked then-Chief Justice Miriam Naor to give priority to haredi nominations as part of an affirmative action program to improve the court’s representation of Israeli society.
Shaked noted at the time that the nomination process was necessarily a long one, lasting at least two years, and stressed that the committee would not compromise on judicial and legal scholarship and quality in order to satisfy a desire to nominate a haredi judge.
“These are lifetime appointments, so we need top-quality haredi lawyers who are up to the task of this role. Up to now, not enough haredim have applied for the job,” Shaked told the ultra-Orthodox Bechadrei Haredim website at the time.