Israel's firefighting services on Wednesday announced the appointment of a Haredi woman as head of its human resources division, marking the first time in history a female held such a senior position at the organization.
The Israel Fire and Rescue Services said Rachel Pisam, a 55-year-old mother of 11, as a result, will be promoted to the rank of assistant fire commissioner (tafsar), which is equivalent to Major General in the IDF. She will become the first woman of this rank in the services.
"My children told me I'm their source of pride," Pisam said. "One of them was less moved by the rank, and more by the siren that will be on my car."
Pisam received the news of her appointment on Tuesday. "A woman in such a position, in an operational array, and in uniform breaks the glass ceiling for both women and the Haredi people. I don't know if it was possible a decade ago."
Public Security Minister Omer Bar-Lev praised Pisam and said that "there is no candidate more worthy than this one. To me, she represents everything that is wonderful about Israel and how it integrates people from all sectors."
Pisam said before applying for the post, she asked for a blessing from a prominent rabbi of the ultra-Orthodox sector. "I also consulted with my husband and family and they pushed me to fulfill my dream. My neighbors and friends said they'd be proud to see me in uniform with the new rank," Pisam added.
Commissioner of Israel Fire and Rescue Services Eyal Caspi said Pisam will be the first woman to become part of the senior commanding staff. "Pisam will make history. As part of her role, she will be required to befit the firefighting array to the various threats and scenarios in an era of the global climate crisis, as well as modifying the fire and rescue services to be a leading emergency body and a central part of the national resilience in Israel."
Pisam in the past served in the Israeli Air Force and reached the rank of major. She holds a Bachelor's degree in social science and a post-graduate degree in public policy from the Hebrew University. She also worked in senior positions in the public sector, the last of which was in the Public Security Ministry.