Odelia Levy Ettinger was the youngest of three children of Nitza and Yehuda Levy, sister to Tzahal and Ra’anan. She was born and raised in Asseret, a rural settlement in central Israel. At age 3, she left with her family for Uganda on a government mission. When she was 11 the family relocated to Vancouver, Canada, on another government mission.
On returning to Asseret, Odelia enrolled in the local High School, became a member of the student council and edited the school paper. She also held leadership positions in the local scout troop.
At the end of her high school junior year she joined a Foreign- Ministry delegation to the United States, and took part in an information campaign targeting Jewish communities.
In October 1985 Odelia was drafted into the IDF. At a time when women were virtually excluded from active duty she was placed, upon request, as a field artillery instructor. She then enrolled in officer training and insisted, despite opposition from the director of the women’s corp, on completing her training in the artillery corp. She was the first female artillery cadet in the IDF, and a most successful one.
It was in the artillery officer training program that she met Aviad Ettinger. Odelia and Aviad married and had three daughters, Yuval, Ariel and Omer. After their release from the army they studied law together at Tel Aviv University. Odelia was licensed to practice in 1995, and worked for some years as a lawyer in Tel Aviv. She and Aviad then founded their own law firm at the Science Park in Rehovot.
Opening the joint office was a special moment in Odelia’s life, but a shadow hung over it. The new office was launched on the 1st of May, 2003, and on that same day Odelia was underwent testing and subsequently was diagnosed with breast cancer.
For the next nine years she worked on consolidating the firm, and lived a full healthy life while coping with cancer.
Professionally, she flourished. As employer and active head of the firm, Odelia held uncompromising professional standards and a rigorous demand for excellence; at the same time she had great sensitivity and a deep commitment to learning and enrichment, guiding and instructing her staff. This is a rare mixture indeed.
Alongside her local community activities (school parent council, community center board, municipal education committee), Odelia made it her mission to advance gender equality and women’s empowerment in Israel. She served on the Women’s Action Committee of the Bar Association, held central positions in the Israel Women’s Network and was a member of the advisory committee of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
In the legal sphere, Odelia became a leading authority in the field of women’s labor rights, as well as adoption procedures, fertility treatments, sexual harassment and gender discrimination. She was active in altering and formulating legal rulings in protection of the rights of women.
Odelia was a first-rate lawyer, highly professional, well-informed, thorough, efficient, keen and sharply articulate, but she was also unfailingly attentive and responsive to her clients. Though she was strong willed and unyielding, she was highly regarded by her colleagues; they valued her unique ability to conduct every lawsuit, negotiation or argument, however intractable, with utmost respect and integrity.
For nine years Odelia managed the firm, pursued her career and fulfilled her civic, community and family duties, while regularly attending hospital treatments. After chemotherapy and radiotherapy sessions, she would immediately resume her routine. She defied her illness and refused to be governed by it. She would not regard herself as ill.
Coping with her illness, she was supported for nearly a decade by Prof. Bella Kaufman, head of the breast cancer unit at Tel Hashomer Hospital. In the course of her illness Odelia sought complementary therapies in addition to those of conventional medicine. She discovered the Commonweal Retreat in the San Francisco area, and found the experience there so meaningful and helpful for her ongoing life with cancer that she decided to bring this idea to Israel. The Revadim project came into existence through her resolve, and through the goodwill and support of the Commonweal directors and staff.
Over the course of her disease, Odelia formed strong bonds of friendship with the medical and support staff including the secretaries and nurses at the breast cancer unit and the Day Treatment Center. Odelia’s firm provided pro bono services to the Israeli Oncology Nursing Society.
During the months of May-June 2012 there was a drastic decline in Odelia’s condition. On September 11th 2012, aged only 45, she passed away.