Merav Pelleg is a full-time teacher, mother and one of only three women on the Modiin Maccabim Reut City Council. We sat down with Merav during one of her busiest times of the year, right after the Yom Hazikaron tekes she organized at school and as she was preparing her sixth grade class for graduation. She is also the mother of four boys, one of whom is a toddler. Merav studied music and education at Bar-Ilan University and then received her master’s in music at Tel Aviv University. She started her career as a music teacher and is currently a homeroom teacher at an elementary school in Tal Shachar.
Before moving to Modiin, Merav and her husband, Chovav, spent several years on shlichut to Holland where she taught in a school there. While they were on shlichut, they decided on their own to be ambassadors for Israel – talking to the locals about Israel and helping them connect to their Jewish identity. They were able to show Israel in a positive light. Merav said, “When you live in chul, you understand that there are so many ways to be Jewish – something that Israelis don’t necessarily comprehend.”
Israel is home and in 2001 the Pelleg family moved to Modiin in the middle on the Intifada. Shortly after their arrival here, Merav took her children to a tekes at school the first day which turned into a moving experience. The teachers and students started to sing “lecha eten et haartez hazot,” “to you I will give this land,” and those words couldn’t have rung truer especially having just returned to Israel. She now understands how to answer the question that many olim receive: “Why did you make aliya – it’s much easier in chul.” The answer is that certain aspects may be better – such as salaries – however the easiest place to be a Jew is in Israel.
Although Merav and her family are orthodox, she has a very pluralistic outlook to religion. She was one of the founders of the Darchei Noam minyan – men and women sit with a mechitza, but both men and women can read from the Torah and receive aliyot. She also started the Kabbalat Shabbat program at Heichal Hatarbut – residents of the city are invited once a month to participate in Kabbalat Shabbat – open to everyone from secular to religious.
She always volunteered on school committees and Iriyah committees. Merav’s volunteer work led to several parties approaching her to join their list in the 2013 elections. After careful consideration, she decided to join Moish Levy’s Shachar Osim Hinuch party. Originally on the opposition, she sat on the audit committee which is one of the hardest jobs in city council. It enabled her to delve deep and have a complete understanding of how the various committees in city council work.
Once Shachar Osim Hinuch joined the coalition, she became the head of the “promoting the status of women” committee. Her approach is that women have the capabilities to tackle any position. The committee provides women with tools needed to do just that. There are seminars, networking, and courses which include the “Tomorrow’s Leaders” course. She notes that there are fifteen hundred women who work from home in Modiin.
She also heads the Arnona Discount Committee; single parents and disabled receive automatic exemptions. Then there are other people who don’t fit into those categories and need a break. Those cases need to be reviewed in depth. Merav made it clear that the entire process is anonymous and that the committee is not privy to names or identification in order to preserve the privacy of the person.
It’s not easy being a woman in politics, but her husband’s support makes it possible. Merav sees politics as a way to get things done for the good of the public. Everything in politics takes time. When you have an idea, you need to wait for the right opportunity. Merav collaborates on events and activities with all of the council members. Politicians will never have a 100 percent approval, she said, “Criticism is a sign that I did my job. If it’s genuine criticism then I take it and learn from it.” We asked how she has time in her schedule for all the volunteer work and she answered that when you enjoy what you’re doing and the work is meaningful, you can always find the time. She added that her motto is “I learned, I did it, I had fun!”
Merav is always available to answer questions: email@example.com; 054-6323190.