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The Mayor of Jerusalem

Nir Barkat and Rabbi Eckstein (Photo: Jerusalem Foundation of Canada)

Nir Barkat

Age: 59

Known for: An Israeli military veteran, entrepreneur, and friend of The Fellowship, Barkat has served as mayor of the Holy City since 2008.

About him: Born and raised in Jerusalem, Nir Barkat later studied computer science and business at Hebrew University, where his father was a professor of physics. Nir also served in the IDF for six years in the Paratroopers Brigade, attaining the rank of Major.

After leaving the military, Barkat founded a software company called BRM and an investment company, IVN. But the skills he learned in business would be fully put to use once he decided to enter politics. Barkat says, "I see myself as a public entrepreneur...using the same approach that I took with technology in the business world to change things in the city."

Barkat became interested in politics because of his involvement in working to fix Jerusalem's education system, when he invested in a non-profit organization to improve online education, as well as personal and social growth among Israelis.

Winning the election for Jerusalem mayor in 2008 with 52% of the vote, Barkat did so by running on a platform of increasing tourism, solving the city's housing crisis, and political transparency. He won the race for mayor again in 2013 with the same 52% result.

Barkat has done much to modernize and better the Holy City during his decade in office, enhancing Israeli culture, promoting tourism, addressing social welfare needs (often with the help of The Fellowship), and providing opportunities for all of his constituents, from Arabs to ultra-Orthodox. But it is his background in business and technology which has helped Mayor Barkat help those in his city. He has encouraged high-tech development in Jerusalem, providing incentives, tax breaks, and grants for companies that employ Jerusalem residents. His work has helped hundreds of start-ups form in Jerusalem, and has brought hundreds of millions of dollars into the city. But Barkat's work for just the Holy City will be done soon, as he will not run in this year's mayoral election, instead opting to run for Knesset (Israel's parliament).

But such is the life of this husband, father of three, and Israeli hero who, in 2015, gained worldwide fame when he personally stopped a Palestinian terrorist from stabbing a Jewish resident of Jerusalem, subduing the attacker and providing help to the victim.

Tags: Israelis You Should Know

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