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Israelis You Should Know: Miriam Ben-Porat

Miriam Ben-Porat lights beacon during Israel's 40th anniversary on Mt. Herzl, 1988 (Photo: flickr/GPO)

Lived: April 26, 1918 - July 26, 2012

Known for: Israeli jurist and first female appointed to Supreme Court of Israel

Why you should know her: Born to a Jewish family in what is now Belarus, Miriam grew up in Lithuania, but made aliyah (immigrated) to the Holy Land once she finished high school in 1936. This move most likely saved her life, as most members of Miriam's family were murdered during the Holocaust.

One of the first females to study law at Hebrew University, Miriam was admitted to the bar in 1945. In 1949 she began work for the State's Attorney, becoming Deputy State Attorney in 1953. In 1959, Miriam became a judge on the Jerusalem District Court, becoming President of the court in 1975. From 1964 to 1978, she taught law to future generations of Israelis as a professor at Hebrew University.

In 1977, Ben-Porat became the first woman appointed to Israel's Supreme Court, a position she held until 1988, when she reached the mandatory age of retirement. Afterwards, she continued to serve the Jewish state for ten years as the State Comptroller, a position to which she was elected by the Knesset. Retiring from public service at the age of 80, Miriam Ben-Porat continued to stay active for many years, and was awarded the Israel Prize - among many other honors - for her lifetime of service to the state of Israel and Israeli society.

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