The family moved to Manchester, and Rebecca attended the prestigious Manchester High School for girls and later Manchester University. She married Israel Sieff in 1910.
They became friends with Chaim and Vera Weizmann and other like-minded active Zionists, in Manchester’s thriving Jewish community. The women felt the men did not include them in the decision making – and vowed to start something of their own.
In 1918 Rebecca, founded the Federation of Women Zionists, the forerunner of WIZOuk today.
It was after accompanying their husbands on a Zionist mission to Palestine in 1919 and seeing the terrible conditions of the women and children there that Rebecca Sieff, Vera Weizmann, and Edith Eder formed WIZO (Women’s International Zionist Organisation) just one year later.
Within eight years of its founding, WIZO attracted 34 worldwide federations consisting of 40,000 members, enabling the organisation to establish a strong education and social welfare infrastructure in Palestine.
With the support of her team, Rebecca Sieff was a visionary – many of her dreams became a reality. She lent her talents to many other causes besides WIZO, and she was a passionate advocate for women, actively campaigning for equal rights in welfare and legal status.
In the 1930s, she formed a Women’s Appeal Committee, which comprised representation from all the women’s organisations in the UK and succeeded in obtained thousands of certificates for women and children to leave Nazi Europe and seek refuge in Britain and Palestine.
A compelling orator, Rebecca also contributed to political Zionism, and in 1946, she addressed, among other official bodies, the UN Special Committee on Palestine (UNSCOP) in Jerusalem.
She was one of the founders of the Palestine Philharmonic Orchestra and the Daniel Sieff Research Institute (later the Weizmann Institute).
In 1948, with the establishment of the State of Israel, Rebecca Sieff settled in Israel. In 1960, her achievements were recognised by the British Government, and she was awarded the OBE (Order of the British Empire).
Rebecca Sieff pushed herself to the limit. Her constant travelling and involvement in so many activities took its toll. Ill-health forced her to retire from the WIZO presidency in 1963. She died at home in Tel Mond in January 1966, one week after her husband became Lord Sieff of Brimpton, and she became Lady Sieff.