Photo Credit: Haim Zach / GPO
President Biden kneeling before Rivka Ravitz in the White House, June 28, 2021

Last Monday, during President Reuven Rivlin’s visit to the Oval Office in the White House, when President Joe Biden was introduced to Rivka Ravitz—who has worked as Rivlin’s bureau chief, campaign adviser, and chief of staff since 1999—and found out she was the mother of twelve children, the President of the United States knelt before her.

“I have a picture of my mother here,” Biden said, “You must see who she was.”


This charming anecdote is even more curious considering the fact that The White House’s 2022 fiscal year budget replaced the word “mothers” with “birthing people” in a section about public health funding.

The 2022 White House fiscal year budget proposal reads, I kid you not: “The United States has the highest maternal mortality rate among developed nations, with an unacceptably high mortality rate for Black, American Indian/Alaska Native, and other women of color. To help end this high rate of maternal mortality and race-based disparities in outcomes among birthing people.”

Back to Rivka Ravitz, it looks like Joe Biden can appreciate a birthing person when he sees one.

Rivlin’s chief of staff Rivka Ravitz with Pope Francis, Sep 3, 2015. / YouTube screenshot

Ravitz has had a previous incident involving body gestures: during President Rivlin’s 2015 visit to the Vatican, a photograph showing Pope Francis bowing to Ravitz while she remained standing upright led to media reports that the Haredi chief of staff refused to bow because the pope was wearing a cross. But it was later revealed that Ravitz had bowed first, instead of shaking hands with the pope, so he returned the gesture with his own bow.

So, to sum up: twelve children and making two heads of state bow before her. Not bad for this Haredi lady, the offspring of—you guessed it—two Jewish American parents. Ravitz is a Bais Yaakov graduate, the second of two siblings. She later pursued a degree in management and computer science at Israel’s Open University and earned an MBA. As of 2017, she is on a Ph.D. track in public policy at the University of Haifa.

She is married to Yitzhak Ravitz, who served as deputy mayor of Beitar Illit between 2014 and 2018. The Ravitzes do not have internet service at home, nor do they let in any newspapers, secular or religious.


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