From Pioneer to Parliament

The Fellowship  |  August 19, 2020

Shoshana Arbeli-Almozlino, 1985
Shoshana Arbeli-Almozlino, 1985

Born to a Jewish family in Iraq in 1926, Shoshana Arbeli grew up in a country where non-Muslims received unfair treatment at best. Because of this, Shoshana joined the HeHalutz (“Pioneer”) movement as a girl, preparing herself to be a farmer once she reached the Holy Land. This association found Shoshana jailed in her home country of Iraq.

After studying to be a teacher, Shoshana at last realized her dream in 1947. That year, she made aliyah (immigrated) to then British-mandate Palestine. The next year, Israel won her independence. And in 1951, the rest of Shoshana’s family arrived (with over 100,000 other olim – immigrants) via Operation Ezra and Nehemiah.

Throughout the 1950s, Arbeli helped found a kibbutz (a communal Israeli farm), and helped women and youth in Israel.

In 1965, Arbeli married a widower, Natan Almozlino, helping raise his two children. The next year, she first entered the Knesset, Israel’s parliament. She would be reelected to the Knesset again many times until 1992, serving Israel for 26 years.

In 1986, the Israeli government named Arbeli Minister of Health, a position she held for that cabinet. Sadly, her own health declined after her retirement from service, and she passed away from Alzheimer’s Disease at the age of 89. But her life should inspire us all – that of hopeful pioneer to Holy Land parliamentarian.