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My WIZO Experience

  • From Down Under to Pardes Katz Wonder: Raquel's Story From Down Under to Pardes Katz Wonder: Raquel's Story
    Written by

    My name is Raquel Ware and I grew up in South Africa. After graduating high school, I got an opportunity to move to Australia where I earned my BA and MA degrees and I now work for an award-winning advertising agency in Sydney.

    Like many young adults in their early 20's, I want to change the world. So, towards the end of last year (2019), with two weeks of work vacation approaching, I decided to use it to do volunteer education work for WIZO, an organization whose values reflect my own, and whose projects spoke to my heart.

    I flew to Israel where I was assigned to volunteer at the after-school tutoring center at WIZO Pardes Katz (located between Bnei Barak and Ramat Gan); a  program generously supported by WIZO Denmark and run by Racheli Mangoli, the iconic chairperson of WIZO Pardes Katz who established the center in 2006. 

    I vividly remember my first day at the center. At 3:30 pm the door swung open and the kids came running in smiling and hugging one another. Their body language alone communicated that they were happy to be in this safe space and excited to get to know me. From that moment on, every day with the kids was incredible since they were eager to learn and assist one another in doing so. Friendships with me were formed from the get-go. It was evident that regardless of our different upbringings, our heritage and quest for knowledge united us.

      Capture334  Capture33

    Together we did English homework and learned about our different communities. Contrary to my initial concerns, my weak Hebrew proved to be inspirational to the kids. They realized that even as an adult, I too was still learning and made mistakes. Moreover, it was uplifting to see how the children's parents also benefited from the support provided by the WIZO Pardes Katz center. Without a doubt, these facilities have changed the lives of many Ethiopian immigrants to Israel. The appreciation from the kids and their parents was heart-warming, making it an environment where you want to keep on giving. And thanks to WIZO and its generous donors and the centers dedicated volunteers, the facilities have whiteboards, maps, colourful stationary, textbooks and snacks to keep the kids engaged. For me, being actively involved, even for just a short period, was a delightful experience. Every minute spent with the kids, young adults and parents was transformed into something of infinite value.

    As Jews, we owe it not only to the children of Israel but to ourselves to educate and empower others to live to their fullest potential. My visit enabled me to see firsthand how a generation of Ethiopian immigrant children were nurtured through the after-school program to become successful adults. This program is most worthy of your support whether as an educator, a donor or, in my instance, a humble, but very grateful volunteer.

    Thank you WIZO Pardes Katz. I will be back!



    Raquel Ware

    in My WIZO Experience
  • Sukkot – One Thing? You “Nailed” It Sukkot – One Thing? You “Nailed” It
    Written by

    Spanish follows English.

    This article orignally appeared on The Times of Israel. Read the original article here.

    One of my favorite Sukkot stories is related by the former Chief Rabbi of Britian, Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks.

    This week, in the context of my job at WIZO (Women’s International Zionist Organization) I attended the dedication of a brand new dormitory at one of WIZO’s youth villages, CHW Hadassim.

    The new dorm at Hadassim is home to 27 high school students in the Naaleh program, Jewish youth from around the world who come to study and live in Israel. Thanks to the great generosity of the Reich family of Germany along with the support of WIZO Germany, these precious international students can study in a nurturing environment in the best possible conditions.

    Image may contain: 14 people, people smiling, people standing and outdoor

    Image may contain: 21 people, including Rivka Lazovsky, people smiling

    Image may contain: people sitting and indoor

    I noticed that a number of times during the dedication ceremony the speakers made made reference to WIZO Hadassim’s slogan, “Ba’ta le’Hadassim, ba’ta ha’baiyta”, meaning, “When you’ve come to Hadassim, you’ve come home.

    In fact, today was the birthday of Hadassim’s wonderful director Zeev Twitto. In wishing him a happy birthday this morning I added that whenever I come to Hadassim and he greets me with his trademark warm smile, I too feel that I have come home, just like the school slogan says.

    It’s not hard to draw parallels between the upcoming holiday of Sukkot and a dedication of a new dormitory for overseas students. The sukkah is a temporary structue that serves as our home away from home for the week of the holiday, while the dormitory is a permanent structure that serves as a warm home for these inspiring young students who come from around the globe to live and study in Israel.

    But I believe there is more to it than that. At the dedication cermony many concepts were talked about: feeling at home, feeling safe, a warm and nurturing enviornment, a school/youth village that is also a community, building a future for Jewish youth from around the world in Israel and much, much more.

    So what is it? What is the one “nail” that holds together these young students who come to live and study in Israel? Which of the themes discussed above keeps their home, their sukkah/dormitory, standing in the face of obstacles?

    To me the answer comes from one scene from the 1991 movie City Slickers starring Billy Crystal.

    In the film, Curly was the tough old cowboy character played by the late Jack Palance. Here’s the scene from the movie where Curly espouses his life philosophy to Mitch, Billy Crystal’s character:

    Curly has a point. According to the story Rabbi Sacks told the lone “nail” represents faith, but to someone else it can represent something else. For each and every person, the “one thing” is different.

    The same can be true for the meaning of “home”. For some of the students in the new dormitory at WIZO Hadassim it might mean a bright colorful spacious place for them to live. For other students the “one thing” ut might be the support of the dorm counselor or living with their friends from around the world. For each person the “nail” , the “one thing” that connects them to their “home” (new home) is different.

    On Sukkot it does not matter if we live in a house, an apartment, or in a dormitory with 26 other international students. For one week we all join together, dwell together in our sukkot, in the temporary outdoor structures that remind us that we are in this together, under the same roof (schach). We’ve all come home.

    Chag Sameach!

    (Photo credits: Kfir Sivan & Yonatan Sredni)

    Del blog de Yonatan Sredni -The Times of Israel

    Sukkot- One thing? You “nailed” it

    Traducido por: Rackel Alfille

    Esta semana, en el contexto de mi trabajo en WIZO (Women International Zionist Organization), asistí a la inauguración de un nuevo dormitorio en una de las aldeas juveniles de WIZO, Hadassim

    El nuevo dormitorio en Hadassim es el hogar de 27 estudiantes de secundaria en el programa Naaleh, donde jóvenes judíos de todo el mundo vienen a estudiar y a vivir a Israel.

    Gracias a la generosidad de la familia Reich de Alemania junto con el apoyo de WIZO Alemania, estos maravillosos estudiantes internacionales pueden estudiar en un ambiente acogedor en las mejores condiciones posibles.

    Image may contain: 14 people, people smiling, people standing and outdoor

    Image may contain: 21 people, including Rivka Lazovsky, people smiling

    Image may contain: people sitting and indoor

    Noté que varias veces durante la ceremonia de inauguración los oradores hicieron referencia al lema de WIZO Hadassim, “ Ba´ta le Hadassim, ba’ta ha bayta”, que significa: “Cuando has venido a Hadassim, has llegado a casa”.

    No es difícil establecer paralelismos entre el próximo viernes de Sucot y la inauguración de un nuevo dormitorio de estudiantes extranjeros. La Sukka es una estructura temporal que sirve como nuestro hogar lejos de casa durante la semana de la fiesta, mientras que el dormitorio es una estructura permanente que sirve como un hogar cálido para estos jóvenes estudiantes inspiradores que vienen de todo el mundo a vivir y estudiar en Israel.

    Pero creo que hay más que eso. En la ceremonia de inauguración se habló de muchos conceptos: sentirse en casa, sentirse seguro, un ambiente cálido y acogedor, una escuela y una aldea juvenil que también es una comunidad que construye un futuro para la juventud judía de todo el mundo en Israel y mucho, mucho más.

    Entonces, ¿qué es? ¿Cuál es la “uña” que mantiene unidos a estos jóvenes estudiantes que vienen a vivir y estudiar en Israel? ¿Cuál de los temas discutidos anteriormente mantiene su hogar, su Sukkah / dormitorio, parado de pie frente a los obstáculos?

    Para mí, la respuesta proviene de una escena de la película de 1991 “City Slickers” con Billy Crystal. En la película Curly, representa al duro personaje de vaquero interpretado por el difunto Jack Palance. Aquí está la escena de la película en la que Curly expone su filosofía de vida al personaje de Mitch, Billy Crystal:

    Para algunos de los estudiantes en el dormitorio de WIZO Hadassim, podría significar un lugar amplio, brillante y colorido para que vivan.

    Para otros estudiantes, "la uña" podría ser el apoyo del consejero del dormitorio para vivir con sus amigos de todo el mundo. Para cada persona “la uña”, es lo único que los conecta a su “hogar” (nuevo hogar) es diferente.

    En Sukkot no importa si vivimos en una casa, un departamento o un dormitorio con otros 26 estudiantes internacionales. Durante una semana, todos se unen, viven juntos en nuestras sukkot, en las estructuras temporales al aire libre que nos recuerdan que estamos juntos en esto, bajo el mismo techo (schach).

    Todos hemos vuelto a casa.

    Chag Sameaj!

    (Photo credits: Kfir Sivan & Yonatan Sredni)

    in My WIZO Experience
  • Sisterhood in a 'man's world': An AVIV's Perspective of the Intl. Women’s Day Conference at the European Union Parliament Sisterhood in a 'man's world': An AVIV's Perspective of the Intl. Women’s Day Conference at the European Union Parliament
    Written by

    All my life I dreamed of attending a seminar or conference on women’s rights and empowerment at the prestigious European Union building in Brussels. WIZO made that dream come true. 

    Now that I live in Belgium, and as an AVIV representative, I had the honour of attending the WIZO Belgium -Luxembourg International Women’s Day Conference in Brussels at the European Union Parliament on the 15th of March 2019 as part of the WIZO Antwerp delegation.

    The theme of the event was ‘Success as a Woman’.

    Varda Cywie, President WIZO Belgium - Luxemburg and her committee, organized the event. Over 70 women attended the event from all social and cultural circles of Belgium, including a fascinating panel of women of success, including World WIZO Chairperson Prof. Rivka Lazovsky.  Other WIZO leaders joined us from our European federations, including Ronit Ribak Madari - Chairperson of WIZO UK, Diana Paola Lévy - President of WIZO France, and Nicole Faktor - President of WIZO Germany

    eu parliment 3

    World WIZO Chairperson Prof. Rivka Lazovsky (far right) with the WIZO Representatives at the European Parliament

    I was deeply moved by the topics of the day, especially as a young woman trying to balance life in all aspects of being a woman, in what is currently mostly ‘a man’s world.’ 

    Some of the highlights were, meeting the lovely WIZO women and representatives from various EU and the UK federations. The atmosphere was warm, friendly and supportive, with a deep sense of sisterhood. 

    Most important were the messages that came through during the panel discussions.

    As an AVIV, I took the following points away from the overall theme of ‘success as a woman’: 

    1. To keep sight of the WIZO vision, agenda and mission, and as a WIZO AVIV to be aware at all times of the reasons we do what we do. The vision, agenda, and mission, guide us in all our WIZO AVIV endeavors. Namely fundraising, education, lobbying, legislation, legal aid, women’s rights, social care, social development, gender-based violence support, prevention, treatment and care for victims and perpetrators; and in general, improved broader social development for Israel. 

    2. We discussed being a successful woman in a ‘mans world’, and that it can be achieved through resilience, perseverance and the correct balance and support within the workplace and home environments.

    3. Psychologically, success as a woman was examined. What was clear from the discussion was that a woman’s awareness, sense of connection, self-care and balance between professional and home life is subjective and is driven by what motivates us as individual women.

    4. Women of all ages, especially during our reproductive years, can be mothers and professionals when we choose to challenge the status quo and existing gender biases in the professional and home settings

    We all learned a huge amount and the day ended with new connections having been made and ideas being exchanged. It was a wonderful event! 

    I would like to thank Varda Cywie, President WIZO Belgium - Luxemburg, as well as Nathalie Miodownik, President of WIZO Antwerp for taking me under their wing. 

    marie and

    Marië Joshua-Querido (right) with WIZO Antwerp President Nathalie Miodownik 


    Marië Joshua-Querido

    WIZO Belgium-Luxembourg AVIV

    in My WIZO Experience
  • Dekel's Story - A Year Volunteering at WIZO Ahuzat Yeladim Dekel's Story - A Year Volunteering at WIZO Ahuzat Yeladim
    Written by

    Spanish follows English

    My name is Dekel Shaki, currently doing a volunteer year at WIZO Ahuzat Yeladim before beginning my military service in the IDF.

    I live in Lotem which is n the north of Israel by the Sea of Galilee, with my parents and three siblings.

    In high school, In addition to graduating with full matriculation, I chose to major in photography and completed my project with excellence.


    For the  past few years my dream has been to volunteer at a boarding school for at-ristk youth before starting my mandatory IDF service and I feel so lucky to be able to do my service at WIZO Ahuzat Yeladim in Haifa, a boarding school serving children at the far end of the at-risk spectrum. 

    We, the volunteers at WIZO Ahuzat Yeladim, received a lot of preparation going into this year and I had never imagined how amazing the experience would be.

    So, how does it work?

    The group of at-risk youth we volunteer with, consists of up to ten teens and six staff members- three instructors, a housemother, one volunteer and a social worker.

    My role in the group is to be an big brother figure for the youth, to help, to give advice and just be there for them.

    The age group I work with is 16-18 and at that age, it is important for them to have a positive male figure that can help them prepare for the life ahead of them. As an big brother figure they confide in me and I give advice and guidance about all their interests, from how to take care of technical daily issues to what to wear and more personal matters.


    Being this close and personal with the group also means that we are exposed to many uncomfortable or even violent situations. Our role is to react and manage those incidents maturely with the tools we acquired. We are not protected or shielded in any way, so we see and are exposed to everything that goes on in the youths' life.

    This year volunteering at Ahuzat Yeladim is an emotional rollercoaster with successes and crises. Every day brings new surprises and difficult situations but this challenge is exactly what I am here for.

    So who are the youth at Ahuzat Yeladim?

    They are really amazing teens that simply crave some attention, someone to take an interest in them, a kind word now and then and someone to provide clear and stable boundaries for them. It is impossible to imagine what they went through and what they have to deal with having no home to return to and no parental figures for guidance and reassurance. They went through and are still going through life rattling experiences and they need us to be there for them. Being close to their own age enables me to bond with them and speak at eye level. I try to give the advice I think my parents would have given to me and try to complement, encourage and hug them because they deserve it. What they have gone through was not by choice.

    So what is our daily life like?

    We start the morning by waking them up with huge smiles and positive energy, helping them get ready for school, taking them to breakfast after which they walk to school. When school is over for the day we wait for them and take an interest in their day, how it went, ask if they have anything to tell us, ask if there were any problems or better yet any successes. We give this interaction our full attention and the day continues with laughter, hugs and personal conversations. Before bedtime, they put everything in their rooms in order and we talk about the following day. We say good night and the day is done.

    Every weekday there is some arranged activity, everything from activities meant to teach values to sports, news, fun, studying, useful life knowledge and current affairs. In addition, ever week on a specific day we have a group meal including cooking in a group together, setting the tables, eating together and after having a laugh and relaxing a bit, cleaning up afterwards and rearranging everything. This meal is meant to break the daily routine and learn some self-sufficiency.

    There is nothing more satisfying, fun and heartwarming than that hug the youth give you at the end of the day.

    It sounds simple so far... but it isn't!

    We go through really hard days when we see them in very difficult situations that come from difficult memories or things they are going through now. This is where we find ourselves helping the most, by being supportive, giving some proportion, listening and trying our best to figure out how to help. Many times is can be despairing because you know that there is only so much you can do, but we try to remember that this is a situation that can become worse, but also be better. These experiences are the ones that stay with you and reamin the sharpest in your memory.

    Also, sometimes the youth ask questions I have no answer for, like:

    "What will I amount to?"

    "Do you believe I can change?"

    "Will I have a steady job when I am older?"

    So I don’t have all the answers, and nobody does, the best I can do is believe in them, love them and support them. Being with them every day all day tends to make you protective and think that you would do anything to give them what they need, but what they need the most is love and support and that is what we are here for. To help them achieve their dreams, to hug them and to be a role model while they are here.

    Dekel Shaki
    Volunteer at WIZO Ahuzat Yeladim (March 2019)

    Dekel Shaki, un modelo a seguir

    Soy del kibutz Lotem, en el norte de Israel, junto al Mar de Galilea, donde vivo con mis padres y tres hermanos. En la escuela secundaria, me gradué con matrícula completa y me especialicé en fotografía. Terminé la escuela secundaria con excelencia y excelentes calificaciones.


    Actualmente estoy a medio camino de mi año de voluntario* en la Escuela Internado WIZO Ahuzat Yeladim, antes de comenzar mi servicio militar obligatorio. Durante los últimos años, mi sueño ha sido estar donde estoy ahora, como voluntario en una escuela para jóvenes en riesgo.

    Nosotros, como voluntarios en WIZO Ahuzat Yeladim, recibimos mucha preparación este año, pero nunca me había imaginado lo bueno que sería. Trabajo con un grupo de 100 adolescentes de 16 a 18 años junto con otros seis miembros del personal: tres instructores, un ama de llaves, un voluntario y un asistente social. Mi papel en el grupo es ser la figura de hermano mayor, un modelo a seguir para los jóvenes. Estoy aquí para ayudar, para dar consejos y simplemente para estar para ellos cuando me necesiten.

    Es importante que este grupo de edad tenga una figura masculina positiva que pueda ayudarles a prepararse para la vida que tienen por delante. Como figura de hermano mayor, confían en mí y yo les doy consejos y orientación. Hablamos sobre sus intereses, desde cómo enfrentar los problemas diarios hasta consejos de moda y otros asuntos más personales. Estar en contacto directo y personal con el grupo también significa que estamos expuestos a muchas situaciones incómodas o incluso violentas. Nuestra función es reaccionar y gestionar esos incidentes con madurez con las herramientas que hemos adquirido. No estamos protegidos de ninguna manera y estamos expuestos a todo lo que sucede en la vida de los jóvenes.

    Este año es una montaña rusa emocional con éxitos y crisis. Cada día trae nuevas sorpresas y situaciones difíciles, pero este desafío es para lo que estoy aquí. Los jóvenes con los que trabajo son increíbles. Simplemente ansían algo de atención, alguien que se interese por ellos, una palabra amable de vez en cuando y alguien que proporcione límites claros y estables.

    Para mí, es imposible imaginar por lo que han pasado y con lo que tienen que lidiar con el hecho de no tener un hogar al que regresar y ninguna figura paternal que les proporcione orientación y tranquilidad. Han estado y están pasando por experiencias de muy difíciles y nos necesitan para estar ahí para ellos.

    Estar cerca de su edad me permite vincularme con ellos y podemos hablar como iguales. Trato de darles el consejo que creo que mis padres me habrían dado. Realmente, trato de felicitarlos, animarlos y abrazarlos, porque se lo merecen. Lo que han pasado no fue su elección. No hay nada más satisfactorio, divertido y reconfortante que el abrazo que te dan al final del día.

    Algunos días son realmente difíciles cuando los vemos en situaciones que provienen de recuerdos o cosas que están pasando ahora. Aquí es donde nos encontramos ayudando más, al brindar apoyo, dar cierta proporción, escuchar y hacer todo lo posible por descubrir cómo podemos ayudar. Muchas veces nos desesperamos porque sabemos que no podemos hacer mucho, pero tratamos de recordar que esta es una situación que puede empeorar pero también mejorar. Estas experiencias son las que te acompañan y están siempre presentes.

    A veces me hacen preguntas para las que no tengo respuesta, como "¿Qué será de mí?", "¿Crees que puedo cambiar?", "¿Tendré un trabajo estable cuando sea mayor?" No tengo todas las respuestas, y nadie las tiene, lo mejor que puedo hacer es creer en ellos, amarlos y apoyarlos. Estar con ellos todos los días todo el día me ha hecho ser protector y haría cualquier cosa para darles lo que necesitan, y lo que más necesitan es amor y apoyo. Para eso estamos aquí, para ayudarlos a alcanzar sus sueños, abrazarlos y ser un modelo a seguir mientras están en Ahuzat Yeladim.

    *Dekel Shaki es voluntario en WIZO Ahuzat Yeladim. Shaki esta cumpliendo una año de voluntariado antes de enrolarse al EDI. Este año se denomina en hebreo Shnat Sherut (año de servicio y los voluntarios son llamados cariñosamente shinshin.

    in My WIZO Experience