Esty Shushan is a Haredi and Mizrachi social activist and entrepreneur, the Founder and CEO of Nivcharot – Ultra-Orthodox (Haredi) Women for Voice and Equality. A long-time social activist and trail-blazer, she is active in the fields advertising, film, art and media. As a journalist writing for the Haredi press, she used a male pseudonym, after being told that “it was the only way anyone would take her writing seriously.”
In 2012, she launched the social media-based protest movement No Voice, No Vote, calling on Ultra-Orthodox women not to vote for parties that barred women from their ranks. This movement formed the basis of Nivcharot, established in 2015 to raise awareness to issues of Haredi women’s rights and to promote the status and equal representation of women in Haredi society and politics through leadership courses, social media and advocacy.
She founded Meoravut (Engagement), a forum that sparked unprecedented discourse amonf Haredi women on issues of legal rights and political representation. Her short film, Akara (Barren), released in 2014, focuses on how ultra-Orthodox society puts pressure on women to bear children. The film has been screened at film festivals in Israel and abroad.
Esty is active in social media, managing several open and closed Facebook groups that enable an honest exchange of views on subjects such as of divorce, birth control, sexual harassment and abuse, arranged marriages and many other topics that are considered taboo in the Haredi world. She is a sought-after speaker and lectures widely on issues pertaining to Haredi women and society, and Haredi media and cinema. In 2015, she told the story of Nivcharot in a TED talk in Jerusalem.
Esty is the recipient of the 2017 Yaffa London-Yaari Prize, awarded to extraordinary women wo have established innovative projects to advance women’s rights in Israel.
Esty grew up in Safed, in a large Haredi-Mizrachi family. The daughter of a Rabbi and posek (legal scholar) she studied at the Beit Yaakov Seminar. She is married to Maimon, a sofer stam (Jewish scribe) and manager of a Judaica internet shop, and they have four children.
Hila Hassan Lefkowitz
Hila is Nivcharot’s project manager. An NLP trainer, Hila focuses on empowering women to find their voice. She is a studying toward a degree in local government.
Hila is a social activist, advocating for Haredi women’s rights in various Knesset committees. She also works to promote Haredi women to positions of power and influence.
She was born and raised in a Haredi neighborhood and is the daughter of a Shas council representative. She studied at Beit Yaakov, and in the past worked with youth at risk, as a coordinator of cultural activities in an institute for the disabled, and taught computers in informal education settings. In 2018, Hila joined the New Day party in Kfar Yona, but left due to disagreements on religious issues.
Hila is 37, married and the mother of three children.
Michal is the founder of “Ir-Vaem” the Mothers’ Movement for Elad established in 2014. This was the first time Haredi women ran in municipal elections in Israel. Michal was an active participant in the No Voice, No Vote campaign and is currently a member of Nivcharot’s steering committee.
She was active in Koach-LaOvdim (Power to the Workers), assisting children’s daycare center employees in their struggle for better conditions, and is also a member of the Bat-Melech organization that helps female victims of domestic violence. In 2017, together with other Haredi social activists, she established the Haredi wing of the Labor Party, of which she is co-chair. Michal works to promote children’s, parents’ and teachers’ rights in the Haredi educational system, and consults and supports activities that promote gender equality. She is a member of the steering committee of Israel’s Women’s Network.
Michal is a graduate of Beit Yaakov Lustig in Ramat Gan and the Lev-Lustig Institute. Married with four children, she lives in Elad
Tirtsa is a member and activist in Nivcharot. She is a content writer and translator by profession and currently works in digital marketing. As a Haredi social activist, she focuses on healthcare and the welfare of Haredi women. Tirtsa helps promote social projects and educational initiatives that support single-parent families, women in the work force, and more. She is a member of the steering committee of Nekudat Mifne and dreams of creating a unique center that will provide a multi-disciplinary solution to Haredi families in crisis.
Tirtsa is the mother of five and resides in Jerusalem.
Lily Ben Ami
Lily is an active member of Nivcharot. She lectures on education, leadership and gender studies. A social activist who works to promote gender equality, fair employment and education, Lily founded the Hebrew University’s daycare centers and led the struggle for direct hire of teachers rather than through employment agencies. She anchors a Social Corner segment on the popular Israel Educational Television program Ossim-Seder. Lily has an MA in Education from the Hebrew University.
A mother of three sons, she resides in Moshav Beit Zayit.
An active member of Nivcharot, Ariella works with various organizations to promote the Haredi community. She coordinates a course for ambassadors in the media, and has her own column on social affairs in Kikar Hashabat. She is working to launch an unprecedented course for women that will empower them on issues of tahara.
Ariella has a BA in Social Sciences from the Open University, and a teaching diploma from Chabad’s Beth Rivka College. She is the mother of four.