Belgium: First Female And Jewish Prime Minister Is Daughter Of Holocaust Survivor


Sophie Wilmes became the first female and first Jewish prime minister of Belgium when she entered office on Sunday.

Wilmes, who is a center-right liberal from Belgium’s French-speaking community, is taking over a caretaker government from Charles Michel, whose Cabinet dissolved last year. Wilmes will oversee negotiations to form a coalition for an acting government, an often lengthy process for Belgium, which in 2010-11 went 541 days without a government – a world record.

Wilmes was born in Brussels to an Ashkenazi Jewish mother who lost relatives in the Holocaust, according to a JTA report. Wilmes’ father Phillipe, who is a lecturer at Catholic University of Louvain, is not Jewish.

Philippe Markiewicz, the president of the Consistoire organization of Belgian Jewry, told JTA: “She hid her Jewish identity, though it seems to be a private detail from her biography and not something connected to any policy-making aspect.”

Wilmes is married to Christopher Stone, who is from Australia, and they have four children.

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(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)