When was the last time you prayed?
"I pray every day and believe that things happened to me under Providence. G-d has given me a lot, for example the public mission. My grandmother, Jeriya, wouldn't pray in the siddur, but when she sat down to eat she would say 'thank God' and that was her blessing of food, in her own way. In my day-to-day life, I know how to thank G-d like my grandmother.
"I'm a strange bird religiously. I don't have a definition. I get along with everyone, with the rabbis and with others, because of who I am. I am most familiar with the people of the more ultra-Orthodox world and am in dialogue with them. I'm both—I don't categorize, and it's also hard to categorize me. My husband Itzik didn't study at the Merkaz HaRav Yeshiva, he wasn't an Avrach, but when I enter the yeshiva and sit with the rabbis, I feel very much at home there in my own right."
When was the last time you felt a glass ceiling?
"I've always pushed boundaries. For example, when I enlisted, even though everyone wanted me to go to national service, and I was in the Signal Corps. In 1983 it was really groundbreaking, no one in my family enlisted, and I wanted to be a soldier. Nowhere did I feel discrimination, but I know others did. When I moved to Jerusalem, I didn't understand it, because I wasn't in a place of noticing that discrimination existed, and I didn't feel it for myself. She wasn't on my terms.
"In politics, too, I broke boundaries. Deciding that you are running for chairman of the Jewish Home is a piece of daring. I understood the meaning but I didn't think it was a big problem, I'm a bit redhead in that sense.
"I appreciate that it's harder for women, because we don't have, for example, 'guys from the army.' There is something about masculinity, this 'campfire' of theirs, that one helps the other. For us women, I don't see it as much, but personally I didn't feel a glass ceiling. My mother didn't talk to me about it and I didn't know the concept at all until I got older. When I have to appoint someone, I want the best person next to me, and women are excellent. I'll take on a woman because she's good, not because she's a woman. Women are good in their own right, and I'm very appreciative of them, but I don't want you to be a woman in a certain role just because she's a woman. Whoever is not good will not be on duty."
When was the last time you were stopped on the street?
"When I went to the supermarket this week. Itzik usually does the shopping, but this time we went together and twice people stopped me and asked, 'What, do you have time to be at the supermarket?'
"When I'm arrested, I'm usually told I've been read or read on Facebook. They also say well done for the work, and I feel that people are involved. It feels good and heartwarming, because in a busy day you never know what the consequences are, so when I get responses like this I understand that people know and appreciate. This is not self-evident, because the public knows how to be tough and there is also criticism.
"There was a time when there was criticism of me. When I decided to support Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked at the time, I received reactions of anger, but anyone who knows me and my work in Jerusalem knows who is there for the residents. When you connect me to national politics, that's where it gets complicated."
When was the last time you were very scared?
"I think those who live in Jerusalem are less afraid. You get on the light rail and everyone is there, and also in the market and supermarket. Coexistence exists all the time, and it's less frightening to me.
"I'm afraid someone will get sick in the family, but it's a repressed fear that doesn't manage me. I sometimes think that God forbid someone will be sick, that's where I feel fear."
When was the last time you thought about the political situation?
"All the time. Benjamin Netanyahu has his credit, I'm not against him, he did good things for the country, but today something bad is happening to us.
"I have a 20-year-old son who is a bibist. Already when he was in fifth grade, he dressed up as Bibi and even organized an entire entourage for himself. Half the class dressed up as security guards and speakers and I got a call from the school principal about this costume, but in the end they won the costume contest.
"I decided not to go with Netanyahu. I went with Naftali Bennett, and my son was very hurt and angry with me. I felt that he was disappointed in me, but I couldn't go with Netanyahu, I felt it wasn't me. As far as my son is concerned, there is a flag, there is an anthem, there is a state, and Bibi is the prime minister. This is a generation that grew up with Netanyahu as prime minister, that's all they know. I'm not sure they know who the prime minister was before him. I'm not a Bibist and I don't worship anyone. We are all human beings who make both mistakes and lots of good things.
"I don't believe there is a position that is more significant than the education minister." Hagit Moshe, Photo: Efrat Eshel, Makeup: Vered Badosa Rotro
"Right now I'm not leaving Jerusalem. Maybe when I get tired I'll get up and leave, or when I'm ready to run for the Knesset, but I'm not there yet. I'm not tired or bored with Jerusalem.
"In my role at the municipality, I focus on education and do other things. I provide a solution for the entire public, but I'm not looking for the title. Mayor Moshe Leon and I work in cooperation. We are partners in this endeavor and he is an excellent mayor.
"Nir Barkat was also an amazing mayor. I think he is forward-looking and he can and should be prime minister. After Netanyahu finishes, he can be prime minister – and if he calls me to be education minister, I will come.
"Since I come from education, I don't believe that there is a position that is more significant than the minister of education, and that's where I want to make the change. I want to be education minister, that's not a compromise as far as I'm concerned."
When was the last time you failed?
"I failed to unite religious Zionism and I accept responsibility for that. In the end, I couldn't. I still think that all religious Zionism should be connected, but it is true. Not to eliminate a party in order to do something else and not to slaughter someone. It's a process. I was very disappointed by what happened, I couldn't believe it. I was warned, but I didn't want to hear. I was in love with this dream, naïve. Like a bride before a canopy who sees nothing. I really believed that it was possible, that it was the right time and that it was Order 8 for me. Today I am already grateful for experience.
"After the failure of the unification process between our Jewish home and Smotrich's religious Zionism, I went through a very difficult year. I was really hurt. It wasn't hard for me to get up and go to all the branches in Israel, but I felt hurt because I gave myself and got a kappa, everything shattered.
"To fail is when I'm hurt, and when I'm hurt, I go backwards. There are people who are hurt and it motivates them to give back, to take revenge. I shut myself in. When I'm really angry, I don't talk, but deal with myself and look for the next thing. Anyone who has a heart ends up taking it to heart, but you have to take it in the right dose and know how to choose what to hurt. Every day there are small failures, but I'm busy looking ahead and wanting to get it done. Even if not everything goes, you can always look forward."
When was the last time you thought about your age?
"I turned 52 in April. They called me Hagit because I was born on Passover. Itzik and I have a birthday together a year apart, so he turned 53, and it always comes out on Seder night. It's important for me to specify the date, minus the number... This year we celebrated together and I surprised Itzik, we went on a short trip abroad together. He didn't want to come, but I took him anyway for a weekend in Turkey.
"Itzik is in charge of all the youth movements in Jerusalem and we both came from the field of education. That's where we met. He was the center of the Jerusalem and Central District, and I was the coordinator of the Southern District of the Torah youth movement in Zion SDAK. People at our wedding didn't believe we got married, because we never got along and never believed we would ever get along. We were complete opposites and I cried from him. He would annoy me because he was competitive and there was competition between the districts. We didn't think it would come to the wedding, but when I was in the army we talked on the phone at night, not a work call, and I understood who the really rough Itzik was. Then we talked for hours at night on the phone and two weeks before the wedding we did a wandering camp from coast to coast, that's how I arrived very tanned for the wedding. Since then, 30 years have passed, 6 children and 4 grandchildren."
"From Friday morning I become a different Hagit. I bake the challah all these years, cook everything, everyone comes to me, and I love to host rather than stay. The holidays are always with me. I love cooking, and my signature dish is Shabbat fish."
When was the last time you spent time with your family?
"On weekends. All week I get home around 11 or 12 at night. A freak of work, sometimes too much. At the end of the week I'm home with my family, and from Friday morning I become a different Hagit. I bake the challah all these years, cook everything, everyone comes to me, and I love to host rather than stay. The holidays are always with me. I love cooking, and my signature dish is Shabbat fish.
"On weekends I'm also without my phone. On Saturday night I open it and there are a lot of WhatsApp waiting for me because I completely disconnect. I'm completely with my grandchildren and even started sleeping sometimes on Saturdays.
"On a daily basis, the whole family supports me, everyone. You can't be in such a position without a supportive husband, because he pays a price when his wife is never home. It didn't start now, it was the same when I was working in education. Itzik is a partner. A lot of what I've done is because of him and he's always the one pushing me forward.
"It's not easy to be a woman in senior positions. There are prices, and we need to know not to beat ourselves up and not waste time wanting everything to be perfect. There is no perfect. So I don't get to sit with my friends in a café, I'm very tired and there are challenges with the kids, that's life. When you're a mother, when there's a problem with one of the children, you take it with you to work – that's part of the price of combining motherhood and demanding work."
When was the last time you visited your parents?
"My parents live in the Ramot neighborhood of Jerusalem, and I visit there about once every two weeks with my brothers. We're originally from Beersheba, and I'm most connected to all the populations, I think that's my strength. I think we have to be sensitive to distress, but the real solution is education. We need to give tools to weaker populations, like my parents gave us. We are five brothers, I am the eldest daughter and they are all academics and senior officials, because they raised us to deal with every situation and did not feel sorry for us.
"I had an amazing childhood and I'm very connected to what I went through. I grew up in neighborhood D, which was considered 'difficult,' but education was important to my parents and there was something about the self-image they gave us that made us who we are. We didn't fall into any place of victims, and to this day I feel like I can do anything. We valued ourselves and coped like everyone else in the neighborhood. I was a very responsible and motherly child, a movement leader, a student council chairman. In high school, I started a choir."
When was the last time you were so excited?
"Every birth of a grandchild, of course, and I'm excited about Jerusalem. I'm excited about this city, both by the traffic jams and the crowding, and when it's crazy and there are wars between sectors. As far as I'm concerned, I have the right to touch a 3,000-year-old city, and I, Hagit from Be'er Sheva, am opening schools there and promoting it as much as I can."
When is the first time?
When was the first time you were elected to public office?
"When I was in the studio, I decided that I was running for student council chairman. I was in ninth grade, I went into classrooms and told who I was and what I was – and I was chosen. I was also chosen from higher grades even though I was the youngest in school. The principal met me the next morning, when she still hadn't updated on the results, and told me, 'Hagit, in the ulpana there is a tradition that the chair of a student council is usually from grades 11-12, I don't want you to take it hard. Keep trying, eventually you'll be chairman," I looked at her and replied, "But the principal, I was elected."
Hagit Moshe // 52 years old, Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem, holder of the Education Portfolio and Head of the Jerusalem Municipal Finance Committee. She is married to Itzik, mother of six and grandmother of four. In 2021, she was elected head of Bayit Yehudi, but the party did not run in the elections and supported Bennett's Yamina. She serves as a board member of the Jerusalem Development Authority, the Knesset Museum, Orot College and more. One of the founders of the Torah youth movement in Zion SDAK.
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