March 2, 1977
Judges Miriam Ben-Porat and Shimon Asher were appointed to Israel’s Supreme Court by President Ephraim Katzir. With her appointment, Ben-Porat became the first woman to not only serve as a judge on Israel’s highest court, but the first woman to sit on the highest judicial authority of any country with a common law system.
Ben-Porat was born Miriam Shinezon in 1918 in Vitebsk, Russia (today Belorussia), grew up in Kovno and made aliyah in 1936 after completing high school in Lithuania. Her parents and one brother were killed during the Holocaust. She studied law in Jerusalem and received her lawyer’s certificate in 1945. In 1948, she began working in the Ministry of Justice, eventually becoming Deputy State Attorney from 1949-1958. In 1958, she was appointed as judge in the Jerusalem District Court, becoming the court’s President in December 1975.
Following her mandatory retirement from the Supreme Court in 1988, Ben-Porat was elected as State Comptroller, becoming the first woman to hold that post as well. As Comptroller, she and her staff investigated and exposed many shortcomings in the government, including flaws in the absorption of Russian immigrants, mismanagement of water resources and the distribution of defective gas masks during the first Gulf War. She was awarded the Israel Prize in 1991 for contributions to the State of Israel and Israeli society.
Miriam Ben-Porat passed away in 2012 in her Jerusalem home at the age of 94.
Read more about Miriam Ben-Porat at the Jewish women’s Archive: http://jwa.org/encyclopedia/article/ben-porat-miriam