MK Anatasia Michaeli has made history by becoming the first incumbent Knesset Member to give birth. She bore her eighth child, and fifth son, early Sunday morning in Tel HaShomer-Sheba Hospital in Ramat Gan. Mother and baby are doing well.
The birthdate, July 5, is the same as that of Michaeli’s party leader, Israel Our Home chairman and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman. Michaeli said afterwards that at a recent party meeting, “Lieberman asked me, jokingly, if I could wait until July 5, his birthday. The expected date was earlier, but I guess my son, like all the members of Israel Our Home, is very disciplined, and he in fact waited until Lieberman’s birthday.”
Born into a Christian family in St. Petersburg, Russia, where she won a city beauty contest, Michaeli married Yosef Samuelson in 1997 at the age of 22. The couple moved to Israel, and after her second son was born, she underwent an Orthodox conversion process, culminating with the couple’s re-marriage, this time Jewishly, according to Orthodox practice.
Michaeli and her husband have seven other children: David (11), Rami (10), Yehonatan (9), Racheli (8), Tali (6), Eli (4), and Michal (1.5). She said she would consult with her rabbi before choosing a name for her new son.
The Knesset Ethics Committee recently decided that though Knesset Members are not officially entitled to maternity leave, new mothers need not attend Knesset sessions in the weeks after giving birth. “It would be appropriate to grant [maternity leave] to Knesset Members,” the Committee resolved. “Furthermore, the return of a new MK mother to work right after giving birth is liable to transmit a problematic message to women, and possibly to employers, that maternity leave is expendable.”
The freshman MK said she is not sure how she will juggle her Knesset duties with being a new mother, but is likely to attend the Knesset at least for crucial votes, such as on the upcoming national budget. “Whenever I come, I will bring the baby,” she said.
Another MK, the Likud’s Gila Gamliel, is currently in the last trimester of her pregnancy.