WIZO NSW was proud and delighted to host Major General Amikam Norkin

wizo gala event 035

WIZO NSW was proud and delighted to host Major General Amikam Norkin (immediate former Commander Israeli Air Force) and his wife Aviva, at two events last weekend.

Amikam Norkin is one of Israel’s most important military figures of this century. As Commander of the Israeli Air Force and member of the Israel Defence Forces General Staff he was a central figure in advising Israel’s Cabinet on the most sensitive issues of national security.

From being the youngest F-15 pilot in the world to overseeing the destruction of Syria’s Nuclear Reactor and being awarded the Legion of Merit from the American Secretary of Defence, General Norkin’s story is one for the ages.

General Norkin and his wife were both graduates from WIZO Nahalal, having met there when they were 12, falling in love at 17 – they have been together for 40 years. WIZO Nahalal is a place like no other. It’s a youth village that’s home to hundreds of Jewish students from all over the world. Its high school is one of the largest and most prestigious in northern Israel.

Please take a moment to read the keynote speech from President, Nilly Berger. Please call the WIZO office on 9387 3666 for further information and how you can help support WIZO Nahalal.

Keynote Speech from President, Nilly Berger:

My name is Nilly Berger, and I’m the proud president of WIZO NSW.


I don’t know about you but for me saying ‘Shalom’ to a shopkeeper or a friend when I am in Israel makes me feel like I am with my people.

President Herzog’s use of Shalom during part of the speech we just heard at the US Congress was so heartfelt and meaningful. I felt my core, the most innate feelings of my place of birth swell. I also felt a special touch of pride as SHALOM was my family name at birth.

With a somewhat similar feeling I am here today with you sharing the importance of Zionism.

Zionism is Israel’s right to exist. The establishment of a Jewish homeland in the nation of Israel

WIZO – is an activist Zionist movement that is committed to strengthen this very  homeland. 

We are the largest and one of the most effective social organizations in Israel.

For the past 103 years WIZO has been responsible for strengthening Israel through welfare, working together for all regardless of race, religion or gender, for safety in the home and streets, giving hope where there is none, enabling a safer future.

During the tumultuous history that Israel has had, some of which we are experiencing today, WIZO remains THE organisation which helps every Israeli citizen whatever their need may be, regardless of race, religion or gender.

Is that why it is a Zionist movement? Yes

It is the fabric that patches all the tears when they are fraying. It is so fundamental to unity and protection of the whole makeup of  the State of Israel.

Last year I spoke of the remarkable women who were a part of the magnificent story of the establishment and building of Israel.

Today I will tell you about one of thefirst initiatives of these forward-thinking women, the WIZO Youth Villages.

These Youth Villages were created with a focus on teaching agriculture , to feed a growing country, to export Israel’s fruit and to connect young people from around the global diaspora, to the land.

Two of these villages, WIZO Nachlat Yehuda and WIZO Nahalal have just celebrated their 100-year centennials. 

Clearly these villages answered an immediate need to absorb young immigrants, and provided a home to thousands of youth with no family.

But in reality, there was much more to it!

The master vision behind this was to establish sustainable institutions that would embody the very core values of Zionism.

What did it mean then, and what does it mean today?

If Zionism was merely a political movement for Jewish self-determination, then the State of Israel would not have been such a success story; nor would we, as the WIZO movement, have achieved what we set out to do.

From the very beginning, the founders of WIZO’s youth villages understood the critical importance of instilling into our students a powerful commitment to serve their country, sometimes even demanding the greatest of sacrifices to defend its land.

The unique and ingenious youth village model, incorporating boarding school facilities within successful regional high schools, where new olim and Israeli-born youth at risk actually gain an Ivy League education, was one of the first great Israeli innovations.

We instill in each student the belief that the sky is the limit, and they can be whomever they wish to be, even an Air Force commander!!

Today, brainpower and innovation are the key enablers for Israel to survive and flourish.

In 2013 WIZO “Nahalal Tech” was established.

It is the only selective excellence program of its kind in Israel, training hundreds of olim and Israeli born youth, so that they can integrate into the IDF’s elite technological units, and bring their intelligence,creativity and intense Zionist motivation to the centre of Israel’s economy and high tech sector.

This is the ultimate win-win: The return on this investment will benefit Israel in the best possible way. By advancing these bright minds to become the future leaders of the State whether in technology, politics, economy or the military.

LADIES AND GENTLEMEN: Many great WIZO leaders who have come before me, have asked you, your parents, and your grandparents, each year without fail, to partner with them on various programs and initiatives, all of which have strengthened Israeli society.

And year after year, although the food on the plate changed from goulash and mash to a carb-free, sugar-free dinner; and the fur coats to vegan leather jackets — the one thing that hasn’t changed is your willingness to invest in everything we have asked you for.

And we? We delivered on our promises, by raising generations of leaders that carry the State of Israel on their shoulders. This is the power of WIZO, and our youth villages.

So yes: This afternoon I’m asking you straight forward and unfilteredto partner with WIZO and invest in this incredible program called NAHALAL TECH, simply because this is no doubt one of the most impactful investments you can make in these young students and in Israel’s future.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I, Nilly Berger, the daughter of Chaim and Rahel Shalom, Turkish immigrants to Israel

— I know, with every ounce of my being, that in a hundred years’ time, another Nilly will be standing here, and she will be asking the audience in the room to partner with her on some other critically important initiative. Always for the benefit of Israel.

Simply put, the THE JEWISH communities COMMITMENT TO Zionism and its values will always —  but always — continue to be the common thread that will ensure the future of the Jewish people, through the State of Israel. Am Israel Chai!



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