On 11th July 2016 WIZO celebrated her 96th anniversary.
For 96 years WIZO has been empowering and supporting women, children and the elderly in Israel.
WIZO was established in England by a group of very strong women, whose husbands were involved in Zionist activity and who felt that women should have a distinctive and equal role in the return to Zion. Some of these women were also suffragettes, struggling for the political right of women to vote alongside men in England.
The idea of reviving the Jewish national home after 2000 years in exile seemed almost overwhelming.
These women were led by Rebecca Sieff, Vera Weizmann, Romana Goodman and Edith Eder and together they visited Eretz Israel/ Palestine in 1918 to see the unfolding reality with their own eyes.
What they discovered shocked them to the core. Following WWI, the Jewish population in Palestine had dwindled due to expulsion, disease and famine. The situation of the women was unbearable and they were suffering physically and spiritually.
These powerful and determined women decided that they had to found an international organisation of Zionist women to confront this situation and the founding conference of World WIZO was held in London July 11, 1920.
From the very beginning, WIZO pioneered social welfare work in Israeli society. This included Baby Welfare Clinics and Tipat Halav clinics, as well as projects to help the needy such as the Sewing Circles, Committee for the Distribution of Clothing and the Care of Abandoned Children.
The aim was not to give a lot of aid, but to cause the numbers of those requiring aid to decrease. This change in intent became termed ‘social work’ rather than ‘tzedaka’ (charity).
Over 96 years the State of Israel has changed dramatically. As the country changes and WIZO adapts to provide solutions to new emerging social needs and developments, one thing has remained the same. That is WIZO’s mission – to work for the betterment of Israeli society.
See wonderful ‘then and now’ photos below.