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November 25, 1977 - Image 19

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1977-11-25

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

THE DETROIT ,JEWISH :NEWS. Friday, November 25, 1971,19

Israel's First Woman Justice Not a Token, Earned Her Role

Justice Ben-Porat, how-
ever, does not consider her-
self a representative or
leader in women's causes.
"For women to gain recog-
nistion in different fields of
work and life—not just in
Israel, but in other
ocuntries," she says, "they
must first believe them-
selves capable, and develop
their talents. Then they will
be accepted, given positions
accordingly and treated as
equals. Such a process
which is already in motion,
will of course take time."

by ELLEN DAVIDSON

Courtesy, Consulate General of Israel

JERUSALEM—Her sta-
tionery reads Mrs. Justice
Miriam Ben-Porat. She is
the first woman ever to
become a Supreme Court
Justice in the common law
world.

MIRIAM BEN PORAT

-

To outsiders her appoint-
ment may not seem surpris-
ing in a country which has
already been led by an out-
standing woman—former
Prime Minister Golda Meir.
But Israel has, in fact, very
few women in high posi-
tions. Justice Ben-Porat's
appointment this winter
overcame a certain resist-
ance to the idea of feminine
representatin in one of the
most distinguished
institutions of the state of
Israel.

Speaking on her new posi-
tion Justice Ben-Porat said:
"When I was appointed
Public Prosecutor in 1948, I
felt that as a woman I
needed more courage than
men; I knew I had to try
harder. The number of
women in the legal profes-
sion in those days was still
scarce and my first homi-
cide case was quite a sensa-
tion. Gradually things
changed. Experience made
me more sal-confident and
the number of women join-
ing the legal profession was
increasing. Eventually
women representing the
state in serious criminal
cases became a normal
phenomenon.
"My apprehension that I
might fail in the search for
a proper answer to an argu-
ment in court lessened. I
continued to work hard, but
I was no longer tense. In my

last murder case I faced
three defense opponents,
but the I no longer felt as
one woman confronting
three men. I was a counsel
for the prosecution facing
three defense lawyers."

As in the United States,
Supreme Court Justices are
appointed by the head of the
state, the president. The
justices, whose appointment
is for life, are recom-
mended to the president of
Israel by the nominating
committee composed of
nine members. No approval
of the Knesset, Israel's par-
liament, is required.
Mrs. Ben-Porat was born
in Russia in 1918, brought up
in Lithuania and immi-
grated to what was then
Palestine in 1936. She had
studied at the Hebrew Gym-
nasium in Kova, Lithuania,
and took her law degree at
Jerusalem's Hebrew Uni-
versity. After serving as
first deputy to the state
attorney, she was named to
the district court in 1958 and
appointed its president in
1975. She is a member of the
faculty of law at the Hebrew
University, where she has
lectured since 1964.
A day in the life of the
lady Justice is quite hectic,
although similar in struc-
ture to that of many Israeli
housewives working outside
the home. She is driven to
her chambers at 8:30 in the
morning and attends to the

affairs of the highest court
until two when she returns
home and prepares lunch
for herself and her husband.
In the afternoon, since her
house near Mount Herzl is
quiet and peaceful,- she
catches up at home on the
endless material with which
she must acquaint herself.
A lover of music, she playes
the piano for pleasure, and
reads.

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