There are 196 regional, local and town councils in Israel holding elections tomorrow ( Nov. 11) and several more being held for mayor or council heads. The candidates include 33 women from a broad spectrum of Israeli society, representing elements of religious, secular, Jewish and Arab communities. Below we have highighted four of the women vying for mayor in different cities.
Asma Eighbariegh – Tel Aviv
Asma Eighbariegh, 34, an Arab resident of Jaffa , works as a journalist and political activist. She is the "Da'am" party's candidate for mayor of Tel Aviv. She has been active in pursuing workers rights and rights for the unemployed. Eighbariegh is currently the head of an organization that assists people adversely affected by a "welfare to work" program.
Eighbariegh's Da'am party seeks to address social welfare issues in Israel , in particular unemployment and poverty. The party seeks to encourage organized labor and ensure social conditions of workers, bring a halt to the import of foreign labor and tax the wealthy to fund social welfare programs. If elected, Eighbariegh says she will encourage Arab women to find employment in order to combat poverty in the Arab community. In addition, she states that subsidized apartments for young couples that were built in the city are in need of refurbishment, and resources need to be poured into education in the Tel Aviv-Jaffa municipal area.
Aviva Hajbi – Netivot
Aviva Hajbi, 47, is a religious Jew running in the mayoral race for the southern Israeli city of Netivot . Hajbi is running on the independent party list "Lemaan Achai" (For the Sake of my Brothers). Conservative members of the religious community have criticized Hajbi because they are opposed to women holding public office. Nevertheless, Hajbi believes that women are under-represented, a problem she wants to redress. "I want to serve the community, to have an influence, to change the situation and to build. I'm a bulldozer and know how to fight," she says.
Hajbi has a number of ideas and objectives she wishes to implement in Netivot. One of those is to deal with the town's delinquent youth who fall through the gaps of the education system. Hajbi also seeks to establish workshops for women and to increase employment opportunities for women. Additionally, Hajbi wants to establish new education agencies in the city and provide more youth clubs and organized group activities for the city's children. She has five children and eight grandchildren.
Karen Katzman – Even Yehuda
Karen Katzman has served as a council member in the town of Even Yehuda for the last five years for the independent "Yes" faction and has lived there since she immigrated from America in 1984. She is now running to head the municipal council in Even Yehuda. Katzman has a master's degree in public management and has a great deal of professional experience in the fields of management and public financial systems. Katzman is director of the Jewish Federation of Washington's Israel office and is also responsible for the planning, implementation, management and supervision of a range of projects funded outside Israel that have been implemented throughout the country, with an annual budget of $14.5 million (55 milion shekels). She was an economist at IBM in Israel and was twice selected as the representative of the Jewish Agency in North America, a position she held for five years. In this role in the community of Metro West in New Jersey, she served as a member of the fundraising team responsible for raising $26 million a year for projects in Israel .
Katzman's campaign focuses largely on reforming and improving the education system in Even Yehuda. She states that as council head she will hold herself personally responsible for bettering Even Yehuda's education system and make significant increases in education investment. Katzman's campaign also says she will plan and implement special incentives to bring new employment opportunities to the town's industrial zone, with a special focus on light industry and small businesses.
Ricky Shai – Ashkelon
Ricky Shai, a resident of the southern Israeli city of Ashkelon , is running for city mayor for the "Ashekelon Shelanu" (Our Ashkelon) party. Shai was born to an Indian family and was engaged to be married at 15, a common practice in her community. Dr. Shai was involved in organizing a women's empowerment conference in southern Israel , which she initiated along with the "Yes" organization. Shai has a bachelor's and master's degree and earned a doctorate in behavioral science, all of which she gained while raising a family; she has four children. She says that in breaks between classes at university she would feed her baby, who she took with her to lectures. Shai is currently the director of a college for computing. She put herself through university and afterward gained a teaching qualification and began to teach in the "Sea View" school in Ashkelon while also managing the school's computer studies network. Shai is chairwoman of a number of community projects for the women's council in Ashkelon, a board member of many educational institutes in the city and is the chairwoman of an Israeli delegation for dialogue with Palestinians. 
Shai is focusing on four specific issues that she believes need to be developed in the city: education, tourism, public services and the advancement of equal opportunities for women. In the sphere of education, Shai's ideas focus on improving the professionalism of the educational system and paying greater attention to the individual needs of the city's students. She also says she will develop Ashkelon's tourist infrastructure to make the city the tourist capital of southern Israel . To improve public services, her campaign states that she will undertake specific projects to improve the cultural life of the city, develop its sports facilities and upgrade the general quality of environment.
Tel.: 972-8-675-7581 (Campaign staff)
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http://www.asimon.co.il/ArticlePage.aspx?AID=1891&AcatID=97 , accessed on Nov. 2, 2008 ; Kobu, Hila, "Asama's Attack," Etgar (Hebrew), Aug. 1, 2008,
 Korial, Eleina, "Meet the orthodox woman who's standing for Netivot council," YnetNews (Hebrew), Oct. 15, 2008,
 "Karen Katzman," Web site of Karen Katzman (Hebrew),
http://www.karenkatzman.com/ , accessed Nov. 2, 2008
 "Vision," Web site of Karen Katzman (Hebrew),
http://www.karenkatzman.com/vision/ , accessed Nov. 6, 2008
 Yakir-Tafiro, Ayellet, "Ricky Shai," Ashkelon News (Hebrew), Nov. 11, 2007,
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http://www.2all.co.il/web/Sites/ashkelonshelano/DEFAULT.asp , accessed Nov. 6, 2008