Meet New Knesset Member and JewishMOM of 7 Shuli Mualem
I was brought to tears listening to the first speech of 1st time Knesset member Shuli Mualem (Bayit Hayehudi) yesterday. She discusses her birth only 2 months after her parents made aliya from Morocco, and how she became a young widow when she lost her first husband in the horrific 1997 Helicopter Disaster. She describes her decision, following this personal and national tragedy, to choose a path of life and idealism rather than one of depression and despair. She talks about how this decision drove her to remarry and raise a blended family with her 2nd husband, and to run for the Knesset. Mazal tov to JewishMOM, Shuli Mualem, with blessings for tremendous success!!
Honored Chairman, Knesset, fellow party members, and my dear family!
Many meaningful images from my life arise and flood me as I stand here at the podium for the first time in front of the Knesset of Israel.
So many voices and images, words and verses, images and people—each one of them passing within me and within my mind, and all of them requesting for me to speak for them and the people…
The beginning of my path: the year is 1964. The Tourjeman family is making its way from Dimenet in Morocco to the Land of Israel. Rabbi Yaakov Tourjeman and his wife, Simi, and their seven children. Simi, the mother, carries a tiny seven-month-old fetus in her womb. That baby girl will be born two months later, already in the Land of Israel.
That girl is me. Shuli. Shulamit.
Daughter of Rabbi Yaakov Tourjeman z”l, a rabbi and public leader. A man of Torah and labor, who made aliya from Morocco to Haifa. There, alongside his constant Torah study, acts of kindness, and caring for the community’s needs, he worked in the Haifa municipality with dedication and self-sacrifice. God loved him and people loved him as well.
Daughter of my mother, Simi, z”l, who, even though she died when she was only 51, when I was 14 years old, managed to serve for me as a personal role model of Torah and kindness and love for her fellow human beings. Modesty and humility, faith and self-sacrifice.
My parents were shining role models for me: heroic people, people of truth and faith, who stand with me and beside me as I stand here before you.
Our new life here in Israel continued in a Zionist religious home, in my studies, in the Bnei Akiva youth group…This whole path charged the batteries and directed our path to a life of purpose…
I most fully and powerfully realized this life of purpose when I established my home with my husband, Moshe Mualem z”l.
Lt. Col. Moshe Mualem, Golani Battalion Commander…On the outside, Mualem and I came from different homes and backgrounds. But deep down—we had an incredible relationship and a sense of shared purpose…
He was my personal hero… With him I merited to bring 2 daughters into the world—Noam and Nitsan….
Since that night when the voice of my soul-mate was silenced along with his 72 comrades who died with him in the helicopter disaster, I knew that two paths stood before me: the path of depression and despair, grief and failure, or, on the other hand, the path of strength, of choosing life. And I knew that this path began right there. There, in the moment and in the place of that tragedy.
The choice was clear and definitive—I chose life.
The heroism of my parents and of Mualem stood in my mind’s eye…
I worked then as the head intensive care nurse at Beersheva’s Soroka Hospital. With my own eyes I saw the difficulties of those children and their families and I knew that I had the ability to assist them and to give them back their lives. This led me to choose life.
This path led me to meet the love of my life, with whom I established my home anew. Lt. Col. Dr. Eli Rafaeli–who also has dedicated his life to the security of Israel. We built our home in Neve Daniel in Gush Etsion and we established a home that is big and wide. It contains within it my children, his children, and our children—7 in all. Like the number of branches of the menorah that is the symbol of Israel’s Knesset…
Many challenges stand before me and my fellow Knesset members. Social and educational issues, economic and security issues, international and national issues…
I’m not attempting to blur the disagreements and the challenges. But I know what my parents and my teachers taught me through their personal example. They taught me not to say “Why not?” but rather “How can we do what needs to get done?”…
I would like to conclude with the 30th Chapter of Tehillim:
A Psalm; a Song at the Dedication of the House; of David.
I will extol You, Oh HaShem, for You have raised me up,
and have not suffered my enemies to rejoice over me.
Oh HaShem my God, I cried unto You, and You did heal me; …
You did turn for me my mourning into dancing;
You did loose my sackcloth, and gird me with gladness.
So that my glory may sing praise to You, and not be silent;
O HaShem my G-d, I will give thanks unto You for ever.