WizoTimeline

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WIZO is established in the UK. Begins caring for the women & children in Eretz Yisrael

The idea of reviving a Jewish national home after 2,000 years of exile seemed almost overwhelming. A group of very strong women, whose husbands were involved in Zionist activity, 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.
These women, led by Rebecca Sieff, Vera Weizmann and Romana Goodman, wives of prominent Zionists and powerful personalities in their own right, founded a “Ladies Committee” within the British Zionist Federation in 1918.  On January 12, 1919, they held the founding conference of a Women’s Federation in Britain in London for the purpose of setting up a Women’s Federation in Britain. This eventually became known as the Federation of Zionist Women, later British WIZO, and today WIZOUK.

1920-4
 

The founding father of Zionism, Theodore Herzl, was an Austro-Hungarian Jewish journalist and founder of the World Zionist Movement. The first headquarters of the Zionist movement were in Germany. 

With the defeat of Germany in WW1, and the granting of a British Mandate over Palestine by the League of Nations and the Balfour Declaration guaranteeing a Jewish national home in Palestine, the headquarters of the Zionist Movement moved to Britain. The new Zionist leadership was led by Prof. Chaim Weizmann in London.

A Visit that Changed History

The idea of reviving a Jewish national home after 2,000 years of exile seemed almost overwhelming. A group of very strong women, whose husbands were involved in Zionist activity, 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.

These women, led by Rebecca Sieff, Vera Weizmann and Romana Goodman, wives of prominent Zionists and powerful personalities in their own right, founded a “Ladies Committee” within the British Zionist Federation in 1918.  On January 12, 1919, they held the founding conference of a Women’s Federation in Britain in London for the purpose of setting up a Women’s Federation in Britain. This eventually became known as the Federation of Zionist Women, later British WIZO, and today WIZOUK.

1920-5
 

In 1918, three of the founders, Rebecca Sieff, wife of Israel Sieff the Zionist movement’s Political Secretary, Dr. Vera Weizmann, wife of Zionist movement President Chaim Weizmann, and Edith Eder, wife of Zionist leader Dr. Eder, had the opportunity to participate in a Zionist Commission visit to Eretz Israel/Palestine, 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 women, both the chalutzot (pioneers) and the city women from the old yishuv (pre-state Jewish community) was unbearable.  They were suffering both physically and spiritually.

The Founding of World WIZO

The three women decided they had to found an international organization of Zionist women to confront this situation.  Thus the founding conference of World WIZO (the Women’s International Zionist Organization) was held in London on July 11, 1920. Rebecca Sieff gave rein to her ideas, and the outline of activities for the new international organization. She spoke at length on the idea that women should work together in an organized fashion, and in doing so, their abilities and powers would develop.

She felt that women should work within an independent framework, but in cooperation with their male comrades - for the rebuilding of the Zionist home. In order to realize the dream of the establishment of a national home, women -- via education and training -- had to develop their own specific abilities, so as to play the most useful role possible. 
 
They appealed to the Yishuv in Eretz-Israel "to take cognizance of the particular approach of women, stemming not from motives of prestige, or privilege, but in answer to genuine needs, and to ensure functioning on a firm basis".

The proposed areas of activity: "Education, Home Economics, Legislation, Health and Social Services. All are areas which are completely neglected in Palestine and to which only an organized body can hope to bring about change".

Strong emphasis was placed on agriculture (through the influence of Chana Maisel-Schochat) as the first step towards a national revival. There was a demand to establish agricultural schools, which would provide the training for women to become efficient agriculturalists. Training would also be given on the domestic aspect of rural life, "Training is vital for the farmer's wife". However, at very first conference, the discussion on the women led inevitably to discussion about children and:

 a) A desire to help women go out to work, by providing alternative care for children.
 b) The desire to help women fulfill their function as a mother to the best of their ability, by providing them with 
     professional guidance in child care and nutrition.

The part played by the founders in carving out the aims of the organization cannot be emphasized highly enough. The personal interests and experience of these women defined the areas of activity within the new organization.

Each woman took note of needs within her field of expertise. Edit Eder, an educator, placed strong emphasis on the area of education, which did not reflect the needs, and reality of the country.

Dr. Vera Weizmann, a Medical Doctor, noted the high rate of infant mortality and the poor state of health amongst the women and children. 

Rebecca Sieff wanted to see the women organized, active, and equal to the men. The striving for equality provoked a discussion at the Conference, on the position of Jewish woman in Jewish law. The difficult aspects, and those which bore down hard on the woman were stressed, and hope was expressed that a central Rabbinical Authority would emerge that could deal with these problems.

(This subject does not appear in the constitution on of WIZO, possibly because of the diversity of opinions among the participants.  We therefore find that activity in this area was delayed for many years). The platform focused on vital areas of training for women who arrived in Eretz-Israel unprepared for the prevailing needs. These areas included home economics, articulation and the welfare needs of children.

The constitution of WIZO has undergone many changes and additions, but the central basic aims have remained constant, their interpretation and implementation have always been characterized by a flexible approach. From the outset, it was decreed, "The type of work being undertaken by WIZO must change in keeping with changing conditions". It is this flexibility which has been a source of strength to WIZO throughout all the years of its activity.

As a concrete expression of the constitution, a detailed plan of work was decided upon at the first conference in Carlsbad in 1921.

The resolutions that were adopted for practical action in Eretz-Israel were:

 a) The establishment of a home for immigrant girls
 b) The establishment of an agricultural school for girls 
 c) Provision of kitchen equipment for the girls school in Haifa.
 d) The establishment of a center for the care of babies.
 
In order to raise funds for implementing the plans, it was decided to set up a Jewelry Fund, with Lady Samuel at its head. This decision was taken due to the difficulty in transferring money from one country to another, and also because they felt it was important for every woman to make a sacrifice for Eretz-Israel.

To sum up the discussions which paved the way of the founders when establishing WIZO in 1920 there are two main guidelines:

  1. The recognition of the need for an organization; the recognition that such an organization would have the power to achieve what individuals could only aspire to.
  2. Awareness of the fact that the essence of the program lies in ‘educating women for productive work in 
    Eretz-Israel"

The Hebrew Women's Organization

As these developments were taking place in Europe, the women in Eretz Israel/Palestine also began to organize to further their goals and defend their rights. “Associations of Women” were founded in 1917, a “League of Women for Equal Rights in Eretz Israel” in 1919, and the “Hebrew Women’s Organization” (Histadrut Nashim Ivriot) was founded in 1920. Soon these organizations began to have a working relationship with, and to receive support, from World WIZO.


 

 

WIZO’s Activities During Its Early Days

Tipat Halav (‘A Drop of Milk’) Baby Welfare Clinics

The first baby welfare clinics opened in Jerusalem. Many women gave birth and reared their children in the most abject sanitary conditions, without medical intervention, and in conditions that that endangered the lives of the mother and her baby. Added circumstances such as a shortage of doctors, inadequate hospital facilities, a difficult climate, a water shortage in Jerusalem and lack of suitable nutrition led to a high rate of infant mortality. Individual volunteers tried to help, without much avail.
It was Dr. Helena Kagan  who pioneered the way to providing medical aid and guidance. She would visit the neighbourhoods of the Old City of Jerusalem giving help where necessary and sharing advice. But she could not possibly give all the assistance that was needed. Many women did not seek medical help nor go to the hospitals, due to lack of knowledge or superstition.
Against this background, Batsheva Kesselman conceived the idea of an organization of women. It was decided that this organization (the HNI) would help ‘Hadassah’ to give medical assistance to pregnant women and babies, it’s main contribution being  the establishment of Baby Welfare Clinics. The HNI would speak to the women, persuade them to be examined by a doctor during their last months of pregnancy. The women were encouraged to give birth in hospitals, or visits were made to those women who chose to give birth at home. There were also follow up visits to the women who chose to give birth in the hospitals. All this was carried out with the full cooperation of ‘Hadassah’, which provided the medical assistance, whilst the women of HNI would give guidance and provide the general care.
Tipat Halav (‘A Drop of Milk’) Baby Welfare Clinics         
During the daily meetings between the members of the HNI and the women in the neighbourhoods, it soon became clear that it was not enough to deal with the pregnant women and the new mothers, but that guidance should also be given to include the rearing the newly born infants. Since it was impossible to burden ‘Hadassah’ with ongoing daily care, the HNI decided to set up advisory clinics.The first such clinic was opened in a room in the Old City of Jerusalem on the twenty third of June, nineteen twenty one. Dr. Helena Kagan worked there, voluntarily, as a pediatrician. She was helped by Batsheva Kesselman, who held  overall responsibility for the clinic.
A second station was opened, shortly afterwards, in a shed in the grounds of Hadassah Hospital, which was then known as the Rothschild Hospital. At the beginning, there was a weak response from the women, who had expected to come to the clinics and receive material assistance. To their dismay, they were only given advice from the doctor, so they stopped coming.
 
A main problem amongst the new mothers was a lack of milk for breast feeding, which was a result of inadequate nutrition. Dr. Kagan taught them how to help themselves by supplementing their feed with cows milk. However, due to financial constraints, most women could not afford to buy cow’s milk, and it was decided to distribute milk.  The HNI was given a meager budget for the distribution of milk. In the beginning, each district chairman in Jerusalem was responsible for distributing the milk in her area. However this was not effective and it was decided to distribute the milk at the baby welfare clinics. When the milk was distributed in the clinics, the number of women who visited the clinics sharply increased and larger sums of money had to be allocated.
For the first time the HNI faced the main problem of a lack of economic resources and money had to be found from various sources. Thus, for example, Flora Solomon, wife of a senior official in the Mandatory Government, contributed £25 a month for this purpose, on condition that this task would remain as her responsibility. In a special agreement that was drawn up with the HNI gave her responsibility for the distribution of the milk, assisted by members of the HNI.
The activities at the clinic included, besides the actual distribution of milk, ensuring the cleanliness of the cowshed, the pasteurization of the milk, bacteriological and chemical examinations, and the preparation of formulas according to the direction of the doctor, and adding sugar and water for each baby. The whole enterprise was given the name, ‘Tipat Halav’ (‘A Drop of Milk’) and was located at the Baby Welfare Clinics. When they received the milk, the visiting women would also receive advice and the medical services of a doctor. Thus, the combination of the two, led to the increased awareness of medical services amongst women, and it meant that they received correct advice regarding nutrition.
Gradually the name ‘Tipat Halav’ took over in the Baby Welfare Clinics, and over a period of time, the concept included weekly consultations with the doctor and nurse.


Social Work

From the very beginning, the HNI pioneered social welfare work in Israeli society. Examples include the Baby Welfare Clinics and Tipat Halav clinics, as well as the projects to help the needy such as the Sewing Circles, Committee for the Distribution of Clothing and the Care of Abandoned Children. 

Providing help for one’s fellow man was not new to Jewish culture. The innovations made by the HNI lay in their work methods and their concept regarding the quality of social work. According to this concept, the needy should not be given charity, but they should receive what is owed to them as members of the community, i.e. not philanthropy, but constructive aid. 

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 as ‘social work’ rather than ‘tzedaka’ (charity), or ‘nadava’ (alms).

Henrietta Szold contended that the correct meaning of ‘Social Work’ is ‘working for the good of the whole community’ including education and health. If all the factors are not taken into account it cannot be classified as ‘social welfare work’. The members of the NHI saw the work as being Zionistic in every aspect. 

The ideas that were proposed by the HNI ran into opposition from some groups of the old settlement. The groups felt that various societies that were already giving help and charity were being overlapped, such as The Gemillat Hassadim (Benevolent Society) Linat Zedek (Free Lodging Society), Ezrat Nashim (Help for Women) etc…

There were other circles which did not look kindly upon the idea. The word ‘help’ aroused antagonism, as the new pioneers saw it as symbolizing the old ways of distributing charity, which was inconsistent with the image of the modern Jew, who was self sufficient. 

For example, the Agricultural Center declared a ban upon clothes that arrived from America for distribution to the needy, feeling that this was in direct opposition to the community of workers in the country. Their opposition led to a change in tactics. With the consent of Hadassah, which organized the collection of clothes abroad, it was decided to sell them at low prices. This was the beginning of the ‘Beged Zol’ (cheap clothing) enterprise. This is just one example of providing constructive help, not just being philanthropic for its own sake!

Agricultural Education and Schools

The training of women in agriculture was seen, by the founders of WIZO, as part of the Zionist endeavor. In order to build a normal nation, a certain proportion of men and women must till the soil. ‘At the core of our aspirations for Eretz Israel is the creation of a free, Hebrew, functioning settlement, mainly a settlement of agricultural workers, which will plant hardy roots in the soil to serve as a strong basis, economically, physically, spiritually and politically, for the entire nation.’ By working in agriculture, the women would be a resourceful factor. 

One of the basic principles of WIZO was, (and is) to encourage women to be independent and productive in every possible area.  Combined, these two motives led to a preference for agriculture, ‘Our dream of dreams is to see a Jewish farmer, his wife by his side, both trained to work in agriculture in Eretz Israel’.

1920-2

Since Jews in general, and Jewish women particularly, had not worked in agriculture in their countries of origin, they had to be provided with training. There was, at the time, one agricultural school for boys, Mikveh Israel (which was founded in 1870) but no girls were accepted there.

Agricultural training for women began in the Maon (‘Home’) - later to be known as ‘The School for Home Economics’, with Hanna Maisel Shohat as the principal.  Courses were held on growing vegetables and flowers, cultivating bees, and lessons in home management.

Agricultural Farms

During the 1920’s, the Moetzet Hapoalot (Women’s Council), the Jewish Agency and the Jewish National Fund (which allocated land) set up six training farms for women, which were known as Working Women’s Farms.

They were set up in order to provide training, over a period of two years, in all fields of agriculture. The farms were in Nachlat Yehuda (1922), Shechunat Borochov, Petach Tikva (1923), Talpiot Jerusalem (1924), Hadera (1925), Mula (1926). Funds were needed for housing and for work 

apparatus, which the Moetzet Hapoalot were unable to provide.  It was at this point that WIZO went into action, the initiative being a joint one.

The farm at Mula was the first to benefit from WIZO’s support. This small farm was established in 1926, with a group of 17 girls, at the initiative of Moetzet Hapoalot and the Department of Agriculture in the Zionist Executive. The farm suffered many problems, lack of water, unsuitable soil, Arab environs.  The Department of Agriculture gave little financial support, and the farm was on the verge of closing down.

In 1927, the WIZO Federation in Argentina took the farm under its sponsorship, pledging to supply its needs and to assist in its

 development (in exchange, the Federation was released from making payments to the general budget of WIZO. It was the first such arrangement of its type, and did not last long!) Sara Malchin, (a pioneer who was trained at Kinneret) was appointed as Principal.

A few decades later, in the 1940’s boys were also accepted. Financial difficulties continued, and in 1952, when the Moetzet Hapoalot relinquished its share of ownership, the agricultural farm became a Gadna Farm, in an agreement with the Ministry of Defense, and boys received pre-army training, together with agricultural training. 

This program lasted for four years, when it was decided that the WIZO federation of Argentina, the Ministry of Agriculture, and the Ministry of Education with the help of the Jewish Agency, would convert the farm into an agricultural high school, which would serve the settlements of new immigrants that surrounded the area.  Today, it also serves as a boarding school for children from other areas, or from families who are under the care of the welfare authorities.

In 1928, Moetzet Hapoalot asked WIZO to help with the upkeep of other farms, due to ongoing financial problems. A decision was reached in which three other farms that had trained women, Shechunat Borochov, Nachlat Yehuda and Petach Tikva, were transferred to WIZO in 1930. The American organization, Pioneer Women, undertook the financial maintenance of the other farms belonging to Moetzet Hapoalot.

Vegetable Gardens and Travelling Madrichot  (Teachers)

WIZO’s agricultural training did not begin and end with agricultural schools. Anna Jaffe, Rozia Yevnin and Freda Meyerov set up WIZO’s Training Department in 1927, in order to extend agricultural education beyond the confines of WIZO’s educational institutions.
 
The first madrichot (teachers) were graduates of the "School for the Study of Housekeeping and Agriculture". (The Maon"). They taught gardening in Tel Aviv. They also taught home economics and kitchen management, in kibbutzim, in addition to vegetable growing. A third realm of activity was to teach ‘Gardening for children,’ to madrichot in schools and nursery schools.

Activities Related to Agricultural Training:

One of the activities that most suited the needs of the time was the cultivation of vegetable gardens.  This period, 1926-27, was a period of economic crisis.  The economic crisis had begun a short time after the Fourth Aliyah arrived from Poland, and many families were reduced to utter destitution.

Freda Meyerov appealed to the WIZO Executive in London, stating that "not only do women have to take the fullest advantage of the little money that they have, but they also have to be taught how to make a few extra pounds’. One way to save money was by growing vegetables in their back yards, because in this way they can invest the little money they have and make it fruitful. During the times in the seasons when vegetables and fruit were plentiful, they could be made into preserves.

"Is not one of the aims of WIZO to educate women towards life digging the soil, and for home-making? It seems natural to expand this activity to include women in the towns too. Could not WIZO send experts in gardening, and home management, in order to teach these women?"

In terms of concrete assistance, she asked WIZO to send instructions, written and verbal, on the laying of gardens, the rearing of poultry, cultivating bees, etc. "Here, too, it is advisable to organize popular lectures every now and then on these subjects, for small groups of women living in the suburbs".

It was agreed to grant a trial period for the plan and the modest sum of £100 was allocated. Meyerov, together with Yevnin, who had studied agriculture in Berlin, themselves went out to persuade housewives of the benefits of vegetable-growing, since most of the women did not have the faintest idea of how to work the soil, or how to grow vegetables.

In the Tel Aviv area, the neighborhoods selected for the experiment were areas that were settled by workers. The homes were shacks, surrounded by sand dunes. "WIZO's Training Department, in addition to guidance, provided the women with seed, fertilizer and rich soil, even giving them small, long-term loans in order to cover initial expenses.

Despite all this, the madrichot at the beginning were met with evasion and reservation, sometimes even ridicule, on the part of the women. "On these drifting sands, nothing will ever grow", they argued. "Just leave us alone".

Slowly and gradually, their distrust was overcome, and a few women were prepared to try out the suggestions. Patches of sand were marked off round the shacks (usually with empty cans) and black fertile soil was brought in and spread over the sand.

Two madrichot, who had been trained at the 'Maon', and were under the supervision of the 'Maon' gardener, set out three times a week to visit the 20 gardens, that were participating in the program.
 
In 1928, the garden produce was exhibited in a show, and it drew the attention and interest of the whole country. Many women immigrants did not know how to use this produce (or 'grass' as it was dubbed by the Polish immigrants). The abundance of produce also raised the problem of what to do with the surplus. It was decided to teach the housewives how to cook the vegetables (see Chapter on Nutrition). The practical aspect of this endeavor was clearly revealed when, in 1929, the Arabs, who were the chief suppliers of fruit and vegetables, boycotted the Jewish shops. These new gardens then became the sole source of vegetables.

A graphic description of the work of the madrichot, and the development of this project, can be found in a letter written by one of the madrichot, and sent to the Instruction Department on the tenth anniversary of its opening.

" ... The madricha would go from place to place, visiting each garden, according to a plan. Where the work was not progressing sufficiently, she herself, took up the garden tools, prepared the soil, and created some form of garden, helping to plant seedlings or seeds, and outlining to the woman what she had to do before the next visit. Then she would go on to the next garden. There were many obstacles along the path of the madrichot.   A shortage of essential means, apathy, and even recrimination on the part of the women in the event of failure, sometimes defiance, which was accompanied by the reaction "It is not worth it."

"Yet, despite all, both the madricha and the women saw the fruit of their labors. The contrast between the waste land, covered with thorny bushes and drifting sands, and the tidy gardens of the homesteads, highlighted the joy in creativity that went hand in hand with the hard work. Especially the joy of the new settler, not long in the country, who had had no idea of how or where to begin. With patience and perseverance, the madricha won her over, and succeeded in teaching her agriculture, which was so alien to her.  The madricha could indeed feel a sense of accomplishment "

All in all, it was obvious that the vegetable gardens served a number of purposes:1920-3

  1. Economically - saving money in the family budget, and/or increasing the budget when the housewife grew more vegetables than her family required, and then sold the surplus. 
  2. Fostering a bond between the soil and the women immigrants, and helping the immigrants to adjust to alien conditions.
  3. Teaching the women to become manufacturers, and not only consumers.
  4. Enrichment of the family food basket, with items that formed the basis of healthy nutrition.

Disappointment with the response of adults to vegetable growing led to the idea that one should begin to develop an affinity towards plants and greenery at an early age. "And so we arrived at the idea of teaching in the kindergartens. The children, we hoped, would inspire their parents with their spirit, prodding them on ..."

The idea spread quickly, first to Haifa and Jerusalem, and later to a few of the larger urban settlements. In 1929, the Training Department conceived the idea of extending its sphere of activity to nursery schools. Thus, from an early age the children would be linked to the soil, through working it, teaching them to love gardens, "as future pioneers, who would conquer the wilderness".

In 1929, it appears that the number of children receiving instruction in Tel Aviv was 1,400, which was 30% of the total number of children in elementary schools. 700 children in kindergartens were involved, as well as 400 in Jerusalem.

The madrichot, after being trained, were integrated into the program, helping with the  work, attending once a week.

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WIZO focus on agricultural training in towns and homes and skills training for women

In 1932, summer courses were started, given by WIZO's teachers, for madrichot and kindergarten teachers to qualify in the growing of vegetables and flowers. The courses were held at the Pedagogical Institute for Biology, founded by Yehoshua Margolin of Tel Aviv.

In 1931, the Vaad Leumi (National Committee) handed over the general supervision of gardens attached to kindergartens and schools throughout the country, to the Training Department of WIZO. This was, in effect, official and public recognition of the value of the project, and WIZO's monopoly over it.

For the first time, in 1933, the Municipality of Tel Aviv awarded a grant for the work and in 1934, the Municipality included gardening as part of its educational curriculum. This spread to other towns and settlements and gardening was included in the education curriculum in local municipalities.

1930-3
 

The background for the second decade of WIZO’s history was marked by the 5th wave of aliya (immigration) from Eastern and Central Europe, the rise of Hitler in Germany and Jewish-Arab conflict in Eretz Israel. 

The 3rd Aliya of pioneers (1919 – 1923) had established many of the institutions that became the infrastructure for the future state: kibbutzim, moshavim, cooperatives, the Histadrut labor federation and the Haganah (underground defense force). The 4th Aliya (1924-1932), mainly from Poland, and the 5th Aliya, from Poland and German-speaking countries (1933-1939) settled primarily in the cities, particularly in the new town of Tel Aviv, which had been established in 1909.

With the rise of Hitler and the Nazi party to power in the 1933 elections, some German Jews began to leave, coming either to Eretz Israel or to other countries in the Diaspora.  The specter of the coming catastrophe began to loom over all of Europe.

In Eretz Israel, tensions between the Arabs living in the land and the returning Jews had initially erupted in riots in Hebron and Jerusalem in 1929. 

A second Arab revolt broke out between 1936 –1939.  This led the British government to establish the Peel Commission (1936), which proposed a partition plan to divide the land between the Jews and the Arabs.  After both the Jews and the Arabs rejected the proposal, the British issued a “White Paper”, which limited the right of Jews to immigrate to Palestine.

Throughout this whole period, from the moment that the United States closed the gates to immigration in 1924, Jews who did not come on aliya moved from Eastern and Central Europe to Latin America, creating the foundation for strong Jewish communities and WIZO Federations there.

Agricultural Training

In 1932, summer courses were started, given by WIZO's teachers, for madrichot and kindergarten teachers to qualify in the growing of vegetables and flowers. The courses were held at the Pedagogical Institute for Biology, founded by Yehoshua Margolin of Tel Aviv.

In 1931, the Vaad Leumi (National Committee) handed over the general supervision of gardens attached to kindergartens and schools throughout the country, to the Training Department of WIZO. This was, in effect, official and public recognition of the value of the project, and WIZO's monopoly over it.

For the first time, in 1933, the Municipality of Tel Aviv awarded a grant for the work and in 1934, the Municipality included gardening as part of its educational curriculum. This spread to other towns and settlements and gardening was included in the education curriculum in local municipalities.

In 1934, the Vaad Leumi awarded the first allocation to cover part of the expense. WIZO hoped to persuade the Vaad Leumi to introduce gardening into all schools, as a compulsory subject. But this only came about in 1949, when the Ministry of Education took over all agricultural instruction in elementary schools.

In order to reach a large sector of the population, the Training Department began to publish articles on the care of gardens attached to educational institutions, which appeared in in the monthly magazine, 'Hed Hagan'.

In addition to the instruction in schools and nursery schools, the Training Department undertook sending madrichot to outlying settlements. First they were sent to kibbutzim (where they mainly taught cooking), and later to moshavim- communal settlements (through the initiative of the Agricultural Centre of the Histadrut (Workers' Organization), which had included WIZO in 1933. The madrichot taught new settlers how to grow vegetables.  "It was the Training  Department that first brought home to the kibbutzim an awareness of the importance of kitchen gardens that were intended simply and solely to serve the needs of the local kitchen. 

1930-2This was a great achievement, and brought about a change in the kibbutz menu. These vegetable gardens became an independent branch of the economy in most kibbutzim, and interestingly, they served as a source of labor for female members of the kibbutz.

In 1937, one-sixth of the Jewish-owned vegetable areas were under the guidance of WIZO madrichot .The work of the roving madrichot (as those who moved around from settlement to settlement were called) was unable to meet the demand. In the early thirties, each madricha visited 120-160 women a month, in different settlements.

In 1934, an operation called  "The Settlement of a Thousand Families" was organized by the Settlement Department to help the absorption of European immigrants, mainly from Germany. The young settlers, who had meager means at their disposal, were forced to take outside employment, in addition to developing their own farms. Agricultural work in the backyard gardens became almost entirely the responsibility of the women, particularly the cultivation of vegetable gardens, and care of the poultry coop and cowshed.

The organizers applied directly to WIZO with all appeal for help training for vegetable gardening and poultry-rearing. The effort was a great success after which WIZO was asked to undertake the training of settlers in each new area of settlement.  During that period, staff from the Training Department helped in newly-formed urban settlements, and in the larger urbanized villages, by setting up auxiliary holdings, which included orchards, small sheep-pens and poultry runs. The purpose was a dual one: to foster a bond between the town dweller and the soil, and to provide a livelihood for those who could not make ends meet otherwise.

Up until 1936, the "Maon" was the direct source for the provision of madrichot. In 1936, when it became clear the extent of the work, the WIZO Israel Executive created a separate department to centralize this activity. The activity further expanded and became diversified.

Agricultural Farms

In 1928, Moetzet Hapoalot asked WIZO to help with the upkeep of other farms, due to ongoing financial problems.  A decision was reached in which three other farms that had trained women, Shechunat Borochov, Nachlat Yehuda and Petach Tikva, were transferred to WIZO in 1930.  The American organization, Pioneer Women, undertook the financial maintenance of the other farms belonging to Moetzet Hapoalot.

1930-1
 They appealed to the Yishuv in Eretz-Israel “to take cognizance of the particular approach of women, stemming not from motives of prestige, or privilege, O

Cooperation between WIZO, and Moetzet Hapoalot, in the management of the farms, became possible due to a more detailed cooperation agreement between the two organizations that was drawn up in 1932, at the Congress in Zurich.

In 1932, the farms were fully integrated into part of WIZO’s program.  The administration was shared by WIZO and Moetzet Hapoalot, with WIZO being responsible for maintenance, together with the participation of the Jewish Agency.

The farms all developed and grew except for the farm in Shechunat Borochov, which could not be extended since it was surrounded by urban housing schemes.  Eventually, still under the joint administration of WIZO and Moetzet Hapoalot, the farm was converted into a hostel for immigrant women, in 1946.  Later on, it was taken over by the Jewish Agency, for use as a Hebrew Ulpan (center for the study of Hebrew). 

Similarly, the farm in Petach Tikva, was also surrounded by urban housing. The farm was converted into a school for gardening and nursery work, the only one in the country at that time, and it began to prosper.  Over time, an extra year’s study was added to the High School agenda, making it possible for students to specialize in landscape gardening. The school is under the sponsorship of WIZO Switzerland.

The farm at Nachlat Yehuda, was converted into an agricultural high school.  In 1958, Moetzet Hapoalot dissolved the partnership leaving WIZO as the sole owner.  The decision by Swiss WIZO to take over sponsorship of the farm saved it from closing down.

Training Department

In addition to two other projects set up at the time, (Shani and Home Industries) the Training Department organized special courses for urban employment for women starting in 1933, in conjunction with the Workers' Council. Since the situation in the labor market was not stable, these courses changed from time to time, adapting themselves to the need for manpower required. At first the courses included hairdressing, photography, and laundry. 

1930-4Later, weaving, pressing, citrus packing and window cleaning were introduced. After completing a course, the women were able to work successfully in various jobs.  The need for urban courses became more urgent with the riots of 1936-39, as a result of which many girls were forced to leave agriculture.

In 1937 the following courses were organized by the Training Department (in addition to the cooking and baking courses):

  •  Sewing in the kibbutzim
  •  Training in art weaving
  •  An evening course in cutting - for seamstresses
  •  A course in office work for clerks

In addition, loans were given to help the girls as well as a maintenance fee throughout their training.  Preferred vocations were infant care, office work, and the training of immigrant counselors.

With the establishment and development of the Israel WIZO Training Department for Women, the Training Department gradually ceased dealing with vocational training (although for a number of years there was overlap of the work of the two departments). The Department of Training for Women was given sole responsibility for the subject. 

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Vocational training to bring women into the workforce in answer to the need for skilled workers

Nazi Germany invaded Poland on September 1st, 1939, starting the bloodiest war in human history. Soon all of Europe, with the exception of Great Britain, was conquered by Germany. 

These years witnessed the annihilation of one WIZO Federation after another; 102 WIZO groups in Poland, 23 WIZO groups in Bulgaria, 69 WIZO groups in Transylvania. World WIZO, which had 110,000 members before the war, now had 55,000 members.

Nazi Germany invaded Poland on September 1st, 1939, starting the bloodiest war in human history. Soon all of Europe, with the exception of Great Britain, was conquered by Germany. 

1940-2These years witnessed the annihilation of one WIZO Federation after another; 102 WIZO groups in Poland, 23 WIZO groups in Bulgaria, 69 WIZO groups in Transylvania. World WIZO, which had 110,000 members before the war, now had 55,000 members.

Agricultural Training

With the outbreak of World War II, a major effort was made to gain self-sufficiency by extending the areas for vegetable gardens and small holdings throughout the country, especially since restrictions had been placed on the import of food into the country. At that time WIZO was supported in its training work not only by the Vaad Leumi, but also by the Mandatory Government.

"Now, there was no need for patient explanations or persuasive propaganda. Requests, and indeed demands, for WIZO's madrichot came in from many quarters, asking for help with “vegetable-growing, setting up poultry runs and sheep pens, and the planting of fruit trees ... "1940-4

With the establishment of the State, and the subsequent mass immigration to the country, especially from Moslem 
lands, it became clear that there was a need for small auxiliary holdings next to the houses.

Training Department for Women

In the 1940’s, the market needed industrial products, on the one hand yet there was a shortage of working hands on the other hand. These highlighted the serious lack of vocational education for women. WIZO worked towards providing vocational education, in response to the new reality.

Vocational Projects in the Schools

After the establishment of the State, it was realized that agricultural development in Israel would always be limited, due to the shortage of land and of water. Thus the emphasis was transferred to industry and manual work. The need for skilled labor grew fifteen fold. The Government, however, was not able to build nor maintain vocational schools, even though there was a great need for them.

WIZO, always quick to discern fresh needs, once again mobilized its powers in order to meet this need. To quote from the records, "... It cannot be denied that, since the establishment of the State, vocational education has become an important factor in the country, both from the economic and the educational point of view. A substantial percentage of the youth in the country, and youth who have immigrated recently, is not suited to, nor attracted by, agriculture. There is a demand for vocational education. The government, is interested in developing industry, and is providing assistance, but they need trained and experienced manpower

1940-1

Governmental factors are placing more and more emphasis on introducing women into industry. They have asked us to find out what our vocational schools could contribute in this direction."

In other words, turning to vocational education now had ideological backing. The State was in need, and WIZO responded. In following the changes brought about by legitimizing vocational education we see that whilst primarily (at the end of the 'twenties and beginning of the 'thirties), vocational courses were designed for those women who were not working in agriculture - after the establishment of the State, the vocational education assumed its own importance, and developed because the State required skilled workers.

1940-3

The importance of WIZO's effort in this area can be seen in light of the fact that, in contrast to the countries of Europe, Israel had no long tradition of handicrafts, or skills in industrial work, or in training apprentices. The task of turning the children of peddlers, small shopkeepers and other lower middle class sectors of the population, into skilled manual workers, could not be the responsibility of the employers.


The schools constituted the main basis for vocational education. Vocational education for girls had, in the past, suffered due to the small range of occupations that were taught, and were not adapted to industrial needs. "The need to encourage the greater participation of women in civil manpower has long been realized. This should be accomplished by broadening and diversifying the vocational education available to them." WIZO successfully filled this vacuum.

The vocational training offered by WIZO was given through two channels. Firstly, in a framework of vocational school education, and secondly, via a framework of short courses intended for older women, and women with families. In the 1930’s and 40’s, a great deal was accomplished in the framework of short courses.  Emphasis was then placed on high school vocational education, especially after the creation of the State.

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WIZO works with immigrant absorption, youth at risk and equal rights for women

The Law of Return was passed in 1950, guaranteeing every Jew around the world the right to return to the Jewish homeland. 

Between 1948 and 1952, 648,000 Jews came on aliya to Israel from Eastern Europe, mainly Holocaust survivors, and from North Africa, Yemen, and the Middle East, doubling the population of the young state.

The economic burdens of the first few years forced the government to declare rationing.  Minister of Rationing and Trade Dov Yosef  distributed ration coupons to all citizens for food, clothing and other necessities.

The Law of Return was passed in 1950, guaranteeing every Jew around the world the right to return to the Jewish homeland. 

Between 1948 and 1952, 648,000 Jews came on aliya to Israel from Eastern Europe, mainly Holocaust survivors, and from North Africa, Yemen, and the Middle East, doubling the population of the 1950-1young state.

The economic burdens of the first few years forced the government to declare rationing.  Minister of Rationing and Trade Dov Yosef  distributed ration coupons to all citizens for food, clothing and other necessities.1950-4

The 50’s were marked by major development projects in Lachish in the south, and the Jezreal Valley in the north.  The huge Huleh Valley land reclamation project was a symbol of the period. The decade was also marked by Fedayeen infiltrator attacks across the Jordanian and Egyptian borders.  

Training Department for Women

In the 1950’s, the Ministry of Labor entered into partnership with WIZO and provided part of the financing for the courses in which the Ministry was interested. This partnership continues to the present day in certain courses. Additional vocational courses in pedicure and manicure are given in conjunction with the Ministry of Labor, and diplomas are awarded to graduates by the Ministry.

WIZO's Milestones:

1950- WIZO begins massive work with new immigrants in the ma’abarot (transit camps), absorbing children into schools and youth villages, hosting families in the homes of WIZO chaverot, raising funds and providing educational and welfare services.

1951- The Equal Rights for Women Law, proposed by WIZO Knesset member Rachel (Cohen) Kagan, is passed. Other laws promoted by WIZO and passed over the years include the Law of Common Property (195l), Law of Inheritance (1965), Grant to Families with Many Children (1965) Alimony Law (1972) and 1950-2


 Insurance of Housewife Against Accidents (1974).

1956- WIZO activist Hannah Levin is elected first female mayor, of Rishon L’tzion. She later serves as Chairperson of WIZO Israel, 1961-1971.

1950-3

1958- WIZO schools become regional high schools to absorb pupils with adolescent and social problems who continue to live at home. Vocational training and social integration are added to the 

1959- WIZO is recognized by the UN as a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO), and becomes the first Zionist organization to be granted consultative status with ECOSOC. WIZO is granted representation (6 non-voting members) at the World Zionist Organization and Jewish Agency for Israel.educational goals, alongside agricultural training.

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WIZO joins UNICEF, World Zionist Congress assists with the war effort

WIZO is recognized as an NGO member of UNICEF. WIZO Federation in Germany is reestablished. WIZO runs three workshops providing hundreds of women with income and employment. WIZO helps with the war effort.

WIZO is recognized as an NGO member of UNICEF. WIZO Federation in Germany is reestablished. WIZO runs three workshops providing hundreds of women with income and employment. WIZO helps with the war effort.1960-3

Home Industry and Shops

1960-4The three shops, Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Haifa used every opportunity to channel the craft departments of the WIZO Schools into the general market. Since the Six Day War, the shops served as a source of employment for Arab women in East Jerusalem, Gaza and Bethlehem, where the women embroider tablecloths and dresses. Prior to this work had been supplied to the Druze women in P'kiin. The Department of Home Industry, supplied work to provide items for practical daily use, such as housecoats, raffia products and plastic lattice work. 

The work is done by women who cannot leave their homes, for reasons of age or health, or they have many children, and who need money for their basic needs of survival. The women also worked in workshops set up by the Department of Home Industry.  

These workshops provided hundreds of women with vocational guidance and a place of work, tools for their work, raw materials, and paid employment to provide a living for their families. The role of the Department was to train these women to work at home, and help with the family budget. Women were encouraged to participate by training them, by obtaining orders for them and by marketing the products to factories or to private purchasers.

WIZO Milestones:

1960- WIZO is recognized as an NGO member of UNICEF.
The first issue of Bamat Haisha (Women’s Forum), the Hebrew periodical of WIZO Israel appears, edited by Shulamit Aloni.
It features a report on a mock trial organized by WIZO, accusing Israeli women of being apathetic towards public and political life in the country.  

WIZO Federation in Germany is reestablished. Hellen Israel becomes the President of WIZO Germany.

1962- A decision is made to give priority to assisting social absorption of new immigrants. The first WIZO club for Arab women opened in Nazareth.

1960-11963- With Rebecca Sieff too ill to continue, Rosa Ginossar, the first female lawyer in Eretz Israel, is elected 2nd President of World WIZO.   

1964- Cornerstone laid in Tel Aviv for the World WIZO Center, to be named Rebecca Sieff House, in the presence of Rebecca Sieff.
WIZO delegation led by WIZO Executive Chairperson Raya Jaglom is the first Zionist organization to pay an official visit to the Soviet Union, as guest of the Soviet Women’s Committee.
 WIZO is invited to join the World Jewish Congress as an associate member, during its annual meeting in Jerusalem.
The first annual Bible Day is initiated by Fay Grove-Pollack.

1965- At the 26th World Zionist Congress, WIZO is granted, for the first time, 12 members with voting rights and a seat on the Executive with full voting rights, to which it nominates Raya Jaglom.
The first annual Aviv Seminar of younger members of European Federations held in Paris.

1966- The Rebecca Sieff WIZO Center opened in the presence of Sieff family. David Ben-Gurion attends WIZO’s 3rd annual Bible Day.
15th World WIZO Conference recommends that all WIZO branches run candidates in local municipal elections.

1960-2

 

1967- Six Day War:  WIZO reorganizes to assist the war effort. WIZO centers turned into local civilian headquarters for assistance to the front.


In response to Jerusalem mayor Teddy Kollek’s request to strengthen reunited Jerusalem, WIZO builds new day care centers in the city, initiated by Raya Jaglom. 
Care of Families of War Casualties Department opened by WIZO Israel.
Theodore Heuss Rest Home for Mothers of Large Families opens in Herzlia Pituach, at the initiative of Raya Jaglom. It is named in honor of West Germany’s first president and sponsored by WIZO Germany.

1968- At the 27th World Zionist Congress, WIZO has 18 members with voting rights and 18 alternates.
First annual bar mitzvah celebration for immigrant boys is  organized by Immigrant Absorption Department.

1969- WIZO begins to work actively on behalf of Soviet Jewry.
Cornerstone laid for WIZO France Municipal High School in Tel Aviv.

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WIZO works with development towns, a new college and further legislation for women’s rights

In 1975, the UN General Assembly passed a resolution declaring that Zionism equals racism, which was torn up by Israeli Ambassador to the UN Chaim Herzog, the future president of Israel. Israel and Zionism were under attack in all UN conferences and other international forums.

The early 1970s also witnessed the first large wave of Soviet Jewish immigration, marking the success of the Let My People Go campaign for the Jews of Silence.

In 1976, the heroic IDF Entebbe Operation rescuing hijacked passengers in Uganda captured the imagination of the world.

In the early 1970s, plane-hijackings and terrorist actions were directed against Israeli targets in Israel and abroad.  The massacre of 11 Israeli athletes by Palestinian terrorists took place at Munich Olympics in 1972.

1970-1On October 6, 1973, the Egyptian and Syrian armies attacked Israeli forces in Sinai and the Golan Heights, starting the Yom Kippur War.1970-2

In 1975, the UN General Assembly passed a resolution declaring that Zionism equals racism, which was torn up by Israeli Ambassador to the UN Chaim Herzog, the future president of Israel. Israel and Zionism were under attack in all UN conferences and other international forums.

The early 1970s also witnessed the first large wave of Soviet Jewish immigration, marking the success of the Let My People Go campaign for the Jews of Silence.

In 1976, the heroic IDF Entebbe Operation rescuing hijacked passengers in Uganda captured the imagination of the world. 

An Israeli-Egyptian Peace Treaty was signed in 1979, and Sinai was returned to Egypt.

WIZO Milestones:

1970- WIZO marks its 50th anniversary at the 16th World WIZO Conference.
Raya Jaglom is elected the 3rd President of World WIZO.
WIZO begins activities in Air Force bases with clubs for Air Force wives and women serving in the corps.

1971- The first annual WIZO summer camps are organized in WIZO institutions for 5,000 children from development towns, border settlements and deprived neighborhoods.

1972- Knesset passes Alimony Law at the initiative of WIZO Israel’s Department for the Status of Women.

WIZO Neri Bloomfield College of Design and Teacher Training, Haifa, sponsored by Hadassah-WIZO Canada opens with four tracks:

  1. Photography, graphics and interior design;
  2. School of Education for Training Teachers;
  3. Advanced study and qualifying courses for teachers;
  4. Vocational retraining for new immigrants.

First International Aviv Seminar in Israel is organized by Rachel Limon, Head of the World WIZO Organization Department, to educate future leadership for WIZO and Jewish communities around the world.

1973- During the Yom Kippur War, all WIZO centers are turned into civil defense bases.  
1970-3


Members volunteer assistance to soldiers and their families. 
Beit Heuss becomes branch of Tel Hashomer Hospital for the rehabilitation of wounded IDF soldiers who lost limbs.
WIZO Israel’s Department for Bridging the Social Gap, today the Department for
Family and Community Welfare, opens led by Rachel Ben-Ezer. 

1974- WIZO branches are opened in new civilian settlements (previously Nahal military outposts) in Sinai and the Golan Heights.Keren Hachavera (Members Loan Fund) set up at the initiative of Rachel Kagan.

 

1975- Jerusalem Baby Home, sponsored by British WIZO, expands its activities, becoming a family center and adding a vocational school for girls.

WIZO sends a large delegation to the UN Women’s Year Conference in Mexico, which struggles against anti-Zionist tendencies.
First WIZO clubs for Druze women opened in the villages of Daliat Al-Carmel and Peki’in.

1976- WIZO’s first center beyond the Green Line opens in Hamra in the Jordan Valley, eventually named in honor of WIZO Israel Chairperson Hanna Levin.

Israel Prize for life’s work in volunteering is awarded on Israeli Independence Day to WIZO Metulla Chairperson Esther Levit.

1979- WIZO Immigrant Absorption Department initiates annual competition for school children: “I Befriended an Immigrant Child.”  Prize-award ceremony held at the Knesset.

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WIZO federations open in US, foster homes and battered women’s shelter opened

WIZO USA Federations are established in New York and Miami. The first shelter for battered women as well as the first 24 hour emergency hotline is opened by WIZO's, Status of Women Department.

WIZO USA Federations are established in New York and Miami. The first shelter for battered women as well as the first 24 hour emergency hotline is opened by WIZO's, Status of Women Department.

In 1980, the Jerusalem Law is passed by the Knesset, declaring a united Jerusalem the capital of Israel.1980-3

In 1984, Operation Moses brings 7,000 Ethiopian Jews to Israel. Rampant inflation endangers the Israeli economy. An emergency economic plan initiated by Prime Minister Shimon Peres and Finance Minister Yitzhak Modai in 1985 stabilizes the situation.

1980-1In 1987, the first intifada (uprising) begins in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.  In the late 80’s, Soviet premier Mikhail Gorbachev announces a new policy of peristroika (restructuring) and glasnost (openness).

In 1989, the second mass wave of Soviet immigration begins.

WIZO Milestones:

1980- WIZO sends a delegation to the UN Women’s Mid-Decade Conference in Copenhagen. Two classes for disadvantaged girls open in WIZO centers in Eilat and Beersheba. WIZO Israel opens Third Age Department to work with senior citizens. 

1981- The Mothercraft Training Center (MTC) is closed at the request of the Ministry of Social Affairs, in keeping with early age psychologists’ new policy against closed institutions for young children. WIZO USA Federation is established in New York and Miami at the initiative of Raya Jaglom, following a “gentlewomen’s agreement” between WIZO and Hadassah. Evelyn Sommer is elected president. 

1982- Neve WIZO, 4 special foster family homes for children, opens in Herzlia, sponsored by WIZO South Africa, to provide a solution for children from the MTC who have no alternative family arrangement. Beit Heuss expands its activities, begins regular week-long recreational and support workshops for groups of women and couples with problems, in cooperation with the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs.

First WIZO club for Bedouin women opens in Shibli.

First WIZO club for Circassian women opens in Reihania.

1983- WIZO Israel opens Rachel Kagan Leadership Seminar.

1980-21984- First Shelter for Battered Women is opened by WIZO Israel Status of Women Department, at the initiative of Michal Modai, following 1980 decision.

Student’s Club for children of working mothers is opened at Jerusalem Baby Home and Family Center.
First non-residential Therapeutic Child Center is opened in Azur by WIZO Israel Dept. for Family and Community Welfare, headed by Tamar Lewin, for children from problem homes, in cooperation with Ministry of Social Welfare.

1985- WIZO sends a delegation to the UN End of Women’s Decade Conference in Nairobi. The permanent premises of WIZO Jerusalem Vocational School for Girls (now co-ed), sponsored by British WIZO is opened at Jerusalem Family Center. 

1986- WIZO Paula Gold de Leonescu Parents Home for senior citizens is inaugurated in Tel Aviv on the site of the former Mothercraft Training Center.

1987- WIZO Israel’s 24 hour emergency telephone hotline for battered women, the first in the country, is established, initiated by Ruth Tekoah.
The first and only Shelter for Girls in Distress, later named in honor of Ruth Tekoah, is opened.

1988- The first after-school center for homework assistance and hot lunches, in the Judith Moshevich Center run by WIZO Israel’s Department of Family and Community opens in Tel Aviv’s Yad Eliahu   neighborhood.        

1989- 300 young women from Israel and around the Jewish world mark the l0th anniversary of International WIZO Aviv Seminars and the 50th anniversary of the outbreak of WW II with special seminar – “From Holocaust to Rebirth” – in Poland and Israel, initiated and organized by Rachel Limon, head of World WIZO’s Organization Department, with Raya Jaglom. Includes demonstration at Auschwitz against presence of Carmelite convent.

With beginning of second wave of mass immigration from the Soviet Union, WIZO recruits and trains volunteers and prepares infrastructure to assist in their absorption. Chain of after-school centers is expanded throughout the country. 

European Federations Revived, Meeting the changing needs of Israeli Society

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European federations reestablished, violence prevention centers and a second battered women’s shelter opened

After over 40 years, the Hungarian and Czech WIZO Federations are revived.  During the Gulf War, WIZO day care centers near hospitals remain open 24 hours a day to care for children of hospital staff on duty.

After over 40 years, the Hungarian and Czech WIZO Federations are revived.  During the Gulf War, WIZO day care centers near hospitals remain open 24 hours a day to care for children of hospital staff on duty.

The Berlin Wall fell in November, 1989 and the Soviet Union collapsed in the early 90’s, and the second mass wave of Jews from the former Soviet Union continues.  By the end of the century over l million former Soviet Jews will have come on aliya.1990-3

In August, 1990, Iraq invaded Kuwait, leading to the 1991 Gulf War.  Iraq launched 39 SCUD missiles against Israel, generating anxiety and fears of chemical warheads.  Israelis set up security rooms in their homes, and wear gas masks.

In May, 1991, Operation Solomon, a secret airlift, brings 8,000 Ethiopian Jews to Israel.  By the end of the 90s there will be 70,000 Ethiopian Jews in Israel.

WIZO Milestones

1990- 45 years after it was closed, the Hungarian WIZO Federation is revived in Budapest.  
The Czech WIZO Federation is revived in Prague after 42 years of silence.
European WIZO’s first conference in Eastern Europe opens in Budapest, with the participation of 15 European WIZO Federations, in the presence of the Speaker of the Hungarian National Assembly.
WIZO Olim Symphony Orchestra in memory of Hermann Gertler, for immigrant musicians, is established.
European WIZO Seminar on Rashi held at Troyes, France, to mark 950th anniversary of his birth there.
Rebecca Sieff Centenary Exhibition, “Speaking for Women” opens at the Beit Hatefutzot Diaspora Museum in Tel Aviv.

1991- During the Gulf War, WIZO day care centers near hospitals remain open 24 hours a day to care for children of hospital staff on duty.
WIZO Israel Department of War Widows is expanded to include Single Parent Families, following the arrival of many single parent families from the former Soviet Union and Ethiopia.
WIZO Israel’s Department for Immigrant Absorption is awarded the Knesset Speaker’s Quality of Life Prize.
Special day care center with Amharic speaking staff opened at Jerusalem Baby Home for Ethiopian infants from Operation Solomon.
WIZO Hadassim Children and Youth Village absorbs first group of Ethiopian youth educated outside of religious frameworks.
International Symposium on Anti-Semitism held in the framework of 20th World WIZO Conference in Tel Aviv.

1992- Thirty refugee children from Sarajevo absorbed by WIZO Nachlat Yehuda Boarding School, sponsored by WIZO Switzerland.
WIZO Israel’s first annual Druze Women’s week held.
Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher opens WIZO day care center in her name at Sderot development town, sponsored by British WIZO.

1980-11993- First two multi-purpose day care centers for high risk children opened in Jaffa and Jerusalem.
WIZO center for Bedouin women opens in Nujidat in the Galilee.
WIZO institutions give hospitality to children evacuated from northern border due to Katyusha rocket attacks from Lebanon.
Hadassah-WIZO Canada holds 75th anniversary celebrations and 34th National Convention in Israel.

1994- Susi and Freddy Bradfield Community Center opens in Pisgat Zeev neighborhood of Jerusalem.
Ruthie and Uri Makov Club for Girls in Distress, first of its kind, opens in Holon.
Students from the Naaleh immigrant youth study program enjoy a Passover seder together with their parents at the WIZO Nachlat Yehuda School and Youth Village, sponsored by WIZO Switzerland.
The Helena Glaser Center for the Treatment and Prevention of Domestic Violence, Ramat Gan and a similar center in Jerusalem are opened, based upon preventive treatment within the community.
WIZO Nahalal School and Youth Village, sponsored by Hadassah-WIZO Canada, chosen by Regional Council as regional center for  environmental education for entire Jezreal Valley.
WIZO Israel opens first “Art of Marriage” workshops for young couples.

1995- WIZO Israel organizes mass demonstration of women’s organizations in Tel Aviv, at the initiative of Helena Glaser, to alert the public to increase in spouse murders.
WIZO Israel marks World WIZO’s 75th anniversary at the Knesset with participation of WIZO leaders from around the world.  Guest of honor is the Israeli President’s wife, Reuma Weizman.
WIZO delegation to UN Women’s Forum in Beijing led by Helena Glaser.
WIZO opens second Shelter for Battered Women, supported by British WIZO.
Committee for Advancement of Women in Politics set up by WIZO Israel.
First summer camp for working mothers, Jewish and Arab, organized by WIZO Haifa.

1996- WIZO’s 2lst World Conference marks the movement’s 75th anniversary and the 3000th anniversary of Jerusalem.
A major Plenary Session is devoted to Israel-Diaspora relations.  
Michal Modai is elected the 4th President of World WIZO.  
WIZO Israel begins the tradition of holding a seminar on “The International Day Against Violence in the Family,” focusing on the murder of women by their partners. Guest of honor is former Supreme Court Chief Justice Meir Shamgar.
WIZO Israel’s Commission for the Advancement of Women in Politics holds a political marathon in Tel Aviv, featuring representatives of all the political parties.

1997- WIZO education system adapts to changes in Israeli education.  Matriculation exams are now emphasized in all WIZO schools, with an above national average result.  WIZO schools lead the way in absorbing Russian and Ethiopian immigrant youth.     

3,000 WIZO Israel chaverot, from Eilat in the south to Kiryat Shemonah in the north, come to Jerusalem to express solidarity with the 3,000 year old city.
To mark the l00th anniversary of the first Zionist Congress, the 1997 International WIZO Aviv Seminar, “From Basel to Jerusalem: From Vision to Reality,” begins in Basel, Switzerland, and concludes in Jerusalem, an extraordinary experience for the young delegates who come from 20 countries.      

WIZO opens its first two day care centers in the new town of Modi’in.

1998- Jewish unity and the maintenance of both a Jewish and a democratic State of Israel are key themes in the 1998 World WIZO Plenary.1990-2“The State and I” poetry, painting and song competition for children is organized by “Bamat Haisha” in honor of the state’s 50th anniversary.


WIZO has 24 delegates from Israel and around the world at the 33rd Zionist Congress in Jerusalem, marking the l00th anniversary of the first Zionist Congress and the 50th an

1999- The Presidents of new WIZO Federations in Eastern and Central Europe Hana Finkelstein, Latvia; Zuzana Vesela, zech Republic; and Rachel Kostanian, Lithuania, are welcomed at the 1999 World WIZO Plenary.niversary of the state.
Two graduates of WIZO schools, Shaul Mofaz and Uzi Dayan are appointed Chief of Staff and Deputy Chief of Staff of the IDF.
WIZO Review, first published in 1939 under the name WIZO in Israel, marks its jubilee year with a special review of its history.
A special ceremony at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem marks 75 years of WIZO schools’ educational achievement.
WIZO Israel begins workshops on violence in courtship for teenagers.
WIZO Israel’s Department of the Status of Women plays a major role in the passage of a law for the prevention of sexual harassment.

The first International WIZO Lapid Seminar for prime-time women leaders from WIZO Federations around the world, aged 45-60, is held alongside the Plenary.
World WIZO Chairperson Helena Glaser is elected Chairman of the National Voluntary and Nonprofit Sector, and reelected for two more terms.
14 women are elected to the Knesset, the largest number in history, including the first female Arab MK, Hosniya Jabbara, and Dalia Rabin, daughter of the late prime minister.  A reception is held for all of them by WIZO Israel’s Commission for the Advancement of Women in Politics.
The Adisia embroidery project for Ethiopian women is founded in Afula.

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WIZO leads in women’s rights, child care and youth at risk rehabilitation

Israel celebrates its 60th anniversary.  WIZO is awarded the Israel Prize, the country’s most prestigious honor, recognition of all it has done to improve Israeli society. WIZO loses teachers and students to suicide bombings. Youth Villages receive new campuses. Over 1,000 women from all over the world come together for WIZO conference.

Israel celebrates its 60th anniversary.  WIZO is awarded the Israel Prize, the country’s most prestigious honor, recognition of all it has done to improve Israeli society. WIZO loses teachers and students to suicide bombings. Youth Villages receive new campuses. Over 1,000 women from all over the world come together for WIZO conference.2000-1

In May 2008, Israel celebrates its 60th anniversary.  WIZO is awarded the Israel Prize, the country’s most prestigious honor, recognition of all it has done and is doing to improve Israeli society, at a ceremony held on Yom Haatzmaut (Independence Day).

WIZO Milestones:

2000- 1,000 WIZO women from Israel and around the world come to participate in the 22nd World WIZO Conference in Tel Aviv, marking WIZO’s 80th anniversary, in an extraordinary display of solidarity with WIZO and Israel as we enter the 21st century.  A highlight is the appearance of 13 boy and girl students and graduates of  WIZO schools. 

The World WIZO website www.wizo.org  is launched

WIZO Israel opens the first School for Political Leadership for Women in Jerusalem, with the participation of 45 women, aged 24-52, left and right, religious and secular, Arab and Jew.  Minister of Immigration Prof. Yuli Tamir gives the opening address.

WIZO Israel plays a major role in the fight sex trafficking, led by lawyer Meira Segev, chair of the Department for the Status of Women.         

As the second intifada explodes, WIZO’s Jewish-Arab day care center in Jaffa remains a calm oasis in the storm.   WIZO youth clubs in the Jordan valley north of Jericho provide encouragement and psychological help during troubled times.  The WIZO day care center in the Gilo neighborhood of Jerusalem, which is under fire, provides support for parents and their children.

Hadassah-WIZO Canada leaders, among them President Marion Mayman and Executive Vice President Lily Frank, participate in a l,000 strong solidarity mission of American and Canadian Jews to Israel. Two delegations from British WIZO, led by British WIZO Chairman Sarah Glyn, inaugurate the new Lily Sieff Community Center in Petach Tikva  and the Gaby Botello Center in Givatayim.

2001- 21 youngsters are killed in a suicide attack at the Dolphinarium Disco in Tel Aviv, among them Marina Berkovski, a 17 year old who attended the WIZO youth club in Yad Eliyahu, Tel Aviv.  During the ensuing period, many WIZO pupils, staff and service receivers are killed and injured.

Despite the difficult atmosphere, 41 women from around the world and 23 Israelis participated in the International WIZO Aviv and Lapid Seminars.

At the Durban Anti-Racist conference, Brenda Katten, chairperson of World WIZO’s Public Affairs and NGO department and WIZO South Africa chaverot, led by Tamar Lazarus, are at the forefront of the struggle against anti-Semitic and anti-Israel demonstrations.

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon visits the WIZO Battered Women’s Shelter during Hanukkah, emphasizing the importance of the struggle against violence.

2002- 9/11 and the second intifada do not prevent delegates from 26 countries from joining their Israeli colleagues at the annual Plenary, now the Annual General Meeting (AGM) the concept used for a not-for-profit Amuta (Association).  

Security Campaign launched by Helena Glaser, to reinforce shelters, provide gates and guards at WIZO institutions. 

Re-branding of WIZO by the World WIZO Publicity and Information Department promotes a fresh, up-to-date image for the 21st century. 

Pamela Meron, the wife of the Israeli Ambassador, founds a WIZO group in Moscow.

2000-2Former President Bill Clinton says “I want to thank WIZO for 80 years of wonderful work for children, women, values and family” at a special gala honoring WIZO Florida’s 20th anniversary

WIZO staff, teachers and students are killed in Haifa suicide bombings.

Ravid Ben-Ze’ev, 17, from WIZO Nir Haemek School and Youth Village, elected first female chairperson of the National Student Youth Council.

The Girls’ Basketball Team at the Hadassah-WIZO Canada Hadassim Youth Village wins the Israeli national high school championship and plays in the World Championship in Brazil.

2003- 17 former Soviet Union orphans find a home at WIZO Hadassim.

With difficult economic times, and every 4th child living under the poverty line, WIZO launches a “Poverty is not only Food” campaign, initiated by Vice President and Chairperson Helena Glaser.

A suicide bomber hits at the doorstep of WIZO Haifa, hilling 17 year old Smadar Firstater, a student at the WIZO Art and Design High School.

A record number of leaders from around the world come to WIZO’s Annual General Meeting to demonstrate solidarity with Israel and WIZO.

Thousands of chaverot  from all over Israel attend an extraordinary demonstration of Women Power at a park near Tel Aviv, organized by WIZO Israel Chairperson Yochy Feller.

The Neri Bloomfield WIZO College of Design, sponsored by Hadassah-WIZO Canada, moves to new picturesque location in German Colony quarter, with aid of generous donation from Neri Bloomfield.

Family Club for single parents in Jaffa is a site of Jewish-Arab cooperation.

2004- 800 delegates from WIZO Federations around the world attend the 23rd World WIZO Conference, now called 
the Enlarged General Meeting (EGM).

Helena Glaser is elected the 4th President of World WIZO.

Graduates of WIZO School for Political Leadership begin to succeed in municipal politics – Ayelet Cohen in Petach Tikva and Meital Lahavi in Tel Aviv

Outgoing World WIZO President Michal Modai becomes Distinguished Citizen of Tel Aviv, joining veteran WIZO 
activist Yedida Lahav (2003) and Raya Jaglom. 

Former WIZO Hadassim student actress Gila Almagor and music teacher Gil Aldema win the prestigious Israel Prize.2000-3

World WIZO begins a campaign to fight the New Anti-Semitism, initiated by Helena Glaser. 

WIZO Holland plays central role in Hague protests outside International Court of Justice supporting Israel’s right to build a security fence, joining WIZO France and other Federations in activity against the New Anti-Semitism.

WIZO Israel visits Poland, “a journey in the footsteps of a Federation that disappeared.”

British WIZO is now called WIZO.uk, a new brand for the 21st century.

A beautiful new campus is launched at the WIZO Nahalal School and Youth Village, sponsored by Hadassah WIZO Canada.

WIZO Israel holds its first General Assembly in Haifa, with hundreds of delegates from WIZO chapters around the country.

2005- Chairperson Tova Ben-Dov leads a new working agreement between the Histadrut, WIZO and the worker’s committee.

As 652,000 children fall below the poverty line, WIZO’s Anti-Poverty Fund serves as a lifesaver for thousands of Israeli families.

World WIZO launches its first International Membership Campaign, under the slogan “We’ve been expecting you,” initiated by Helena Glaser.

Mrs. Tova Ben Dov launches an EduCaution Campaign to help Israel’s many children at risk.

With the change of leadership among the Palestinians and the disengagement plan, many WIZO tourist groups come to visit Israel, including a large delegation to the 17th Maccabiah annual Jewish sports Olympics.

The WIZO Baby Home, now the Rebecca Sieff Center for the Family, sponsored by WIZO.uk, celebrates its jubilee, with many graduates and a large delegation from WIZO.uk led by Michele Vogel and Ruth Sotnick.

WIZO Israel launches first national emergency hotline for women who suffer from violence in the family and children at risk.

2006- Annual General Meeting dedicated to WIZO’s 85th Anniversary, with celebrations at the President’s Residence and the Knesset.

Graduates of the Neri Bloomfield WIZO Academy of Design and Education in Haifa will be authorized to receive BA degrees in their fields of study.

WIZO organizes pioneering training program for 23 Bedouin women from the Negev town of Rahat to run educational frameworks in their homes for preschoolers at a WIZO day care center in Beersheva.

WIZO builds a protected day care center against Kassam missiles in Sderot.

25 chaverot from WIZO Israel participate in a special seminar in Poland – "In the Footsteps of a Lost Federation".

Mrs. Tova Ben-Dov, Chairperson of the World WIZO Executive, initiates an emergency campaign, with the outbreak of the second Lebanon War in July and August, to help evacuees from the  North. 

WIZO opened its schools and youth villages throughout the country to receive thousands of Jewish and Arab residents seeking refuge from the Katyusha rockets. 

A special WIZO  emergency team led by Tova Ben-Dov functioned throughout the war to help meet the challenges, and WIZO volunteers provided both necessities and warmth to the relocated families. 

Over 900 chaverot from WIZO Israel celebrated WIZO's 85th anniversary in Jaffa in a wonderful pageant of word, song and dance.

2007- The pupils at WIZO Hadassim organized a special project to aid the children of Darfur.

Noted Israeli artist Menashe Kadishman designs a special Haggadah for WIZO Israel to support women and children.

As Israel marked the 40th anniversary of the Six Day War, and the taking down of the walls between West and East Jerusalem, many of WIZO's activities were devoted to WIZO's role in the capital city, past and present.

2000-4In a special interview to WIZO Review, Jerusalem mayor Uri Lupolianski says that "WIZO is one of the most important social organizations, not only in Jerusalem, but throughout Israel."

The 23rd WIZO Israel Conference in Kfar Hamaccabiah in Ramat Gan is organized around the theme of "Women for the Benefit of Everyone."

2008- At the initiative of Helena Glaser, a new WIZO Federation is opened in India.

Over l,000 delegates from Israel and around the Jewish world participate in the 24th World WIZO Enlarged General Meeting (EGM) coinciding with WIZO's 88th anniversary and Israel's 60th, the largest conference ever. 

The theme is "Investing in People for Israel's Future." 

Following the ongoing firing of Katyusha rockets at the Negev development town of Sderot, a Saving Sderot campaign is launched at the World WIZO EGM.

WIZO is awarded the Israel Prize, the country's most prestigious award, granted annually on Independence Day at a special ceremony in Jerusalem. The award was granted for WIZO's efforts "to promote gender equality and its struggle to promote humanitarian social, cultural and educational issues, while focusing on the central position of women in society and the need for equality between the sexes within Israeli society."

2009- Dedication of WIZO Nir Ha’Emek’s first “Mishpachton”, a foster home for children at risk. 

World WIZO launches its Facebook page.

Australia-sponsored Ahuzat Yeladim, a residential boarding school for disadvantaged youth who suffer from behavioral, emotional, and psychiatric problems, celebrates 70 years since its founding.

The Lego Company of Denmark donates 1000 Lego kits to the Bruce and Ruth Rappaport Day Care Center in Sderot to help Israeli children cope with the trauma and fears caused by rocket fire.

2010– 100 Zionist lay leaders from 30 countries arrive in Israel to attend the annual World WIZO MOR (Meeting of Representatives) marking 90 years since World WIZO’s establishment.

On International Women's Day, WIZO Israel launches a new emergency hotline for female victims of violence.

WIZO brings 500 disadvantaged youth from across Israel together to celebrate their bar and bat mitzvahs at the Kotel. 

2011– WIZO Nir Ha’Emek hosts European Wheelchair Basketball Championship.

Tova Ben-Dov, Chairperson of the World WIZO Executive, is awarded the “Tel Aviv 2011 Prestigious Citizen’s Award” on Israel's 63rd Independence Day. 

2012 –WIZO Nachlat Yehuda Youth Village celebrates its 90th anniversary with a gala event attended by former and current students and staff, families and friends.

WIZO's Early Age Division initiates a countrywide healthy eating campaign aimed at enhancing children's meals within WIZO's day care centers

2013 – “Personal Relations”, a short film created by the young filmmakers of the WIZO Helena Kagan Community Center for Youth and Communications in Jerusalem, wins 1st Prize in Nation-Wide Film, “48 – Hours” competition in which film crews must write, shoot and produce films within two days.

Inauguration of Ecological Garden at WIZO Nir Ha’Emek for the Research and Protection of the Quality of the Environment.

Women residing in WIZO's battered women's shelters experienced a day of beauty and pampering at WIZO House in Tel Aviv, including manicures and pedicures, as well as individualized style and fashion advice from famous stylists. Aside from providing the women distraction from the daily challenges of starting over after escaping from domestic violence, it gave them an opportunity to invest in themselves as individuals and build self-confidence.  

2014– WIZO Delegates from the MOR (Meeting of Representatives) meet with Prime Minister Netanyahu who commends them on their important WIZO work strengthening the Israel-Diaspora relationship abroad

WIZO’s Early Age Division teams up with the Green Light organization to launch innovative road safety educational programming for two-year-olds.

Using the hashtag ‘#SpreadingLight, WIZO chaverot around the world participate in The Shabbat Project, calling on women across the globe to promote Jewish unity by lighting Shabbat candles in their homes and communities.

2015– Ghada Kamel, long-time chairperson of WIZO in the Druze town of Daliyat El Karmel, receives the President’s Prize for Volunteerism from President Reuven Rivlin in recognition of her contribution to the advancement of the women of her community, changing their lives while preserving their traditions.

Students at WIZO Nir Ha’Emek Youth Village establish “A Day Without Hunger” to battle the apathy surrounding the issues of poverty and hunger in Israel. The students enlist dozens of eateries in the north to sell meals on that day for just 2 NIS each.

Two new innovative specialty educational tracks: fire & rescue services at WIZO's Nahalat Yehuda youth village and veterinary medicine at WIZO's Gan Ve’Nof youth village are introduced

2016– “Women and their Olive Trees” WIZO art exhibition of olive trees, a well-known symbol of peace, drawn by Jewish, Christian, and Muslim women from the Afula area as part of project to promote and symbolize coexistence in Israel, is successfully displayed at the European Parliament in Strasbourg and at the UN in Geneva.

The WIZO summer camp for Israeli children and children from abroad is launched at WIZO Nir Ha’Emek.

Education Minister Naftali Bennett visits WIZO Nir Ha’Emek for the opening of the 2016-2017 school year.

Four WIZO schools, WIZO Nir Ha'Emek Youth Village, WIZO Nachlat Yehuda Youth Village, CHW Nahalal Youth Village, and WIZO Technology High School in Rehovot, are awarded grants from the Ministry of Education for the high achievements of their pupils.

2017– WIZO Nir Ha’Emek is awarded Israel’s Ministry of Education’s prize in Educational and Economic Achievements in Agriculture for Israel’s northern district.

Inauguration of a new rocket-proof WIZO Day Care Center in Sderot.

"The Aurora", a solar lawnmower created by tenth grade students from the CHW Hadassim Youth Village wins the national "Fuel Choices and Smart Initiative competition", held by the Prime Minister's Office

2018– CHW Hadassim Youth Village wins the National Award for Educational Excellence presented by Israel’s Education Minister, MK Naftali Bennett.

WIZO celebrates 70 years of independence of the State of Israel at gala event honoring all WIZO’s schools and youths villages and their contributions to shaping the country

WIZO Nachlat Yehuda’s Fire & Rescue Cadet Program celebrates its first graduating class.

50 of WIZO's Tel Aviv headquarters staff members pitch in at WIZO’s day care centers, youth villages and parents’ home on International Good Deed’s Day

“The Mother Federation” WIZO UK celebrates 100 years since its founding, elects Ronit Ribak Madari as Chairperson, the first Israeli native to ever hold the position.