The halls of World WIZO's Tel Aviv headquarters were buzzing last week with the arrival of 100 WIZO leaders and representatives from 20 countries around the globe who gathered for the 2018 MOR (Meeting of Representatives), a busy week consisting of review, brain-storming, decision-making, giving thanks and celebrating. This theme of this year's MOR was "Israel at 70" and the panels concentrated on issues related to promoting WIZO's work in Israel in the state's 70th year and well beyond.
The WIZO MOR, which meets annually in Israel, enables WIZO Executive members, administrators and federation leaders to review the past year's accomplishments and challenges, discuss policy and procedure as well as plot a course for the coming year. The MOR also allows the participants to meet, interact and strengthen their bonds with WIZO.
The 2018 MOR opened on Sunday January 14th with WIZO federation members from abroad visiting their respective projects in Israel. The official festive opening of the MOR took place that evening at the WIZO CHW Hadassim Children & Youth Village. The evening featured wonderful musical performances by Hadassim’s student choir and band, followed by a lively hip-hop number by Hadassim’s dance troupe. In addition, current students and graduates shared touching personal stories about how WIZO CHW Hadassim changed their lives for the better.
The next day, the morning started with greetings by World WIZO Honorary President Tova Ben Dov, followed by an address given by World WIZO President Esther Mor. World WIZO Chairperson, Prof. Rivka Lazovsky then gave the 2017 World WIZO report, after which Chairperson of WIZO Israel, Gila Oshrat gave the WIZO Israel report for 2017.
On Tuesday, the MOR participants traveled to Jerusalem to visit the Rebecca Sieff Centre for the Family in Beit Ha’kerem. The first part of the visit was at the WIZO Vocational High School, a co-ed school for students who have difficulty being integrated into a regular educational framework. There they met students learning to become professional chefs. Other vocations offered to the students include hairdressing and music (sound) production.
The group then toured the rest of the complex, which includes a nursery school and a shelter for women. After the tour, the group learned more about the center’s work with women and children in the shadow of violence. Throughout the tour, the MOR participants meet both WIZO employees and the people whose lives WIZO impacts.
From there, the MOR participants traveled to Yad Vashem, where they were led through the museum by guides who focused on women and resistance during the Holocaust and stories of WIZO heroines.
On Wednesday, the Publicity & Communications Division gave a presentation about WIZO's current re-branding process. Next, the World WIZO Leadership & Global Relations Division presented a session on The Changing Reality of the Israel-Diaspora Relationship and the Implications for WIZO. That session was followed by a presentation about WIZO AVIV. Last, but certainly not least, the Fundraising Divisions shared their activities and the challenges they face.
Wednesday’s events concluded with a very special evening in memory of legendary World WIZO Honorary Life President, Raya Jaglom, of blessed memory. The guest speakers included Chief Rabbi of Tel Aviv and former Chief Rabbi of Israel, Yisrael Meir Lau, Israel’s former ambassador to the US, Zalman Shoval, and noted Jerusalem Post journalist, Greer Fay Cashman.
On Thursday, the final day of the 2018 MOR featured thought provoking panels on dealing with the media and answering tough questions on Israel. Later in the afternoon, several representatives from around the globe gave short presentations about their own federations and the projects they are involved in.
On Thursday afternoon the MOR participants traveled to the Western Wall in Jerusalem where they were greeted by Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz, rabbi of the Western Wall and Holy Sites. From a balcony adjacent to the Western Wall Plaza, the group watched the emotional IDF paratrooper’s induction ceremony.
The group then traveled to the new Orient Hotel in Jerusalem where they enjoyed a festive meal, dancing, and a special musical performance.
Professor Rivka Lazovsky, Chairperson of the World WIZO Executive, summed up the week's events, "I am so honored and humbled by the display of international Jewish female leadership that the WIZO MOR represents. WIZO, with the backing of the strongest Jewish communities in the world, will continue to be a 'tree of life' for women, children and the weakest sectors in Israeli society. On the internAational level, the fact that hundreds of women from around the world come to Israel reflects our ability to cope with disturbing phenomena of the de-legitimization of Israel around the world. Now, as we mark Israel's 70th year as an independent state, I am confident that WIZO will continue to be a force for improving the lives of people in Israel for years and years to come."