New Israeli President Has Deep Jerusalem Roots


JERUSALEM, Israel -- Israelis across the political spectrum seem both optimistic and supportive of President-elect Reuven (Ruby) Rivlin, calling him a "unifying" force and one who will represent the nation in a nonpolitical way.

The 74-year-old grandfather is known for his fierce love for the Jewish state and compassion for all its residents, both Jews and Arabs.

Rivlin's ancestors arrived in Jerusalem more than two centuries ago. Rabbi Hillel Rivlin, who immigrated in 1809, studied under the esteemed Vilna Gaon, an 18th century rabbinic scholar whose students helped reestablish Jewish communities in the land. 

First elected to the Knesset in 1988, Rivlin, an attorney by profession, served on the Jerusalem City Council for 10 years and as chairman of the Beitar Jerusalem soccer team.

As Knesset speaker, he quickly became known for his modesty, integrity and evenhandedness.

An avid Zionist, Rivlin does not believe in dividing the land, envisioning instead a state in which Arab residents would enjoy full citizenship with their Jewish counterparts.

Rivlin recently told the Times of Israel he's hoping for a worldwide immigration of Diaspora Jewry to Israel.

"I have a vision that suddenly all the Jewish people will come to live here," he said, "and if there were 10 million Jews here, we wouldn't have to give up on anything."

There's a general consensus that as president, Rivlin will represent all Israelis, bridging the gap between right and left, secular and religious, Jews and Arabs, rich and poor.

And for that, the majority of Israelis welcome him as the nation's tenth president.

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