Photo Credit: Shirley Pinto's Facebook
MK Shirley Pinto (Yamina)

As Israel welcomes its new government, the Ruderman Family Foundation applauded the Yamina party’s Shirley Pinto on becoming Israel’s first deaf Knesset member, as Religious Affairs Minister Matan Kahana announced Sunday he will leave parliament under the so-called Norwegian Law. She is slated to be sworn in within the next 24 hours.

“As a former staff member of the Ruderman Family Foundation, we’re delighted to see Shirley Pinto enter the halls of power and be a force of positive change,” said Jay Ruderman, President of the Ruderman Family Foundation. “I’m confident she will be a strong voice for inclusion and accessibility for those with disabilities. I applaud Yamina and the new government for warmly welcoming her. Shirley will join Karine Elharrar, the first Israeli minister with disabilities. I know both Shirley and Karine will work to improve the inclusion of 20% of the Israeli population- people with disabilities.”


Pinto is a former employee of The Ruderman Family Foundation and a member of the LINK20 network — a global social movement led by a network of young activists, with and without disabilities who are passionate about social justice and inclusion — founded by the Foundation.

Pinto was also cast in the TV documentary series “Mushlamim” (Perfect) on people with disabilities, produced by the Ruderman Family Foundation, the Gesher multicultural film fund, and Hot 8, which authentically showed people with disabilities for the first time on the Israeli television screen.

The Foundation was also a partner in the production of the series “Vicky and I,” which cast a deaf actor in a major role as a political consultant, marking the first time that an actor with a disability appeared in a prime-time television show in Israel.

“I believe that the entertainment industry can play a significant role in changing societal perceptions and breaking down stigmas,” Ruderman continued.

A staunch advocate for empowering people with disabilities, Pinto has cultivated a successful career supporting people with disabilities in general and deaf people in particular.

As the daughter of two deaf parents, Pinto saw first-hand the barriers to accessibility for those who rely on sign language. Since then, she has served as a lecturer at Bar-Ilan University’s Sign Language Interpreting program and a volunteer as Ramat Gan Municipality’s adviser on disability affairs.

“I promise to do everything to be your faithful messenger,” Pinto tweeted.

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