Thirty young WIZO women, representing nine countries around the world – including Belgium, Brazil, Finland, Israel, Panama, South Africa, the UK and the United States - gathered in Israel in early November to participate in the 2018 WIZO Aviv Young Leadership Mission. In celebration of the 70th anniversary of Israel’s Independence, for the first time ever the annual weeklong mission was based in Jerusalem.
The mission’s main goals are to deepen the participants’ (also known as “Aviviot”) connection to Israel and WIZO’s ideology. During the mission they think, share, learn and work together before returning to their home federations to continue their important WIZO work. The Aviv Mission is the entry point to leadership roles in WIZO worldwide.
The mission also exposes the Aviviot to the worldwide WIZO Aviv network, as they become part of a powerful international community, which provides them with the platform to create meaningful WIZO relationships and draw inspiration and support from one another. During the mission they form lasting bonds with one another as they strengthen their link to the global sisterhood of Aviv.
The Aviv Mission: Training, Networking - and Fun!
This year’s mission had several parts, combining practical training (professional workshops) with networking and fun.
The professional workshops in fundraising and advocacy were integral to the mission as they provided the Aviv participants with leadership and public diplomacy training as well as vital tools for effective event planning, fundraising and membership recruitment.
The Aviviot also experienced the power of WIZO firsthand by interactively engaging with several WIZO projects, learning more about the wide range of work WIZO does by visiting a WIZO day care center, a youth village, a vocational school, and a shelter for battered women.
The Aviviot visit the student sound studio of the WIZO vocational school (above) and take a selfie with students at the WIZO Nachlat Yehuda Youth Village (below)
The Mission: This Year in Jerusalem
The mission began on Thursday November 1st with a tour of ancient Shilo and a visit to the Psagot Winery for an evening of wine tasting, delicious food and music.
The group met Racheli Frenkel, whose son Naftali was kidnapped and murdered with two other teens by terrorists in June 2014. She shared with the Aviviot her moving story and told them about how she met a soldier who had been involved in the nationwide search for her son and the two other boys. When he told her that when he heard the bodies of the boys had been found, he felt as though he had lost his own brother. Racheli shared with the Aviviot how this made her feel the importance of the unity of the Jewish people and how in the face of adversity this unity will get us through. She relayed how important Israel is and the unbreakable bond with the land and its people.
Racheli Frenkel (center) with the Aviviot
On Friday, the group visited the WIZO Falic Family Day Care Center (sponsored by WIZO USA) in Jerusalem where they celebrated Kabbalat Shabbat with the adorable children.
The Aviviot help the children of the WIZO Falic Family Day Care Center in Jerusalem prepare for their shabbat party
Next they toured the new Friends of Zion Museum, the first new "smart" museum in Israel, which tells the story of non-Jewish aid to the Jewish people and their assistance in the establishment of the State of Israel via 3D technology, touch screens, an original musical score and surround sound.
As evening descended, the participants shared a meaningful Shabbat in Jerusalem which began with an emotional walk to the Kotel (Western Wall) on Friday night followed by a wonderful Shabbat dinner hosted by Pamela and Abba Clament. On Shabbat morning, the group enjoyed a walking tour of the historic Yemin Moshe neighborhood which was followed by a delicious lunch at the Falic Family residence. On Saturday night. the group enjoyed the spectacular Hallelujah Night Show at the City of David, a unique state of the art 3-D show shown on the Old City walls which tells the story of ancient Jerusalem in the time of King David and our return to rebuild the ancient city.
On Sunday, the Aviviot traveled to the WIZO Nachlat Yehuda Youth Village in Rishon LeZion for a full day of learning and sharing. Tricia Schwitzer, Chairperson of World WIZO’s Publicity & Communications Division, opened the morning with an informative presentation entitled “The WIZO We Love” in which she gave a general overview of WIZO’s history since its establishment a century ago up until today. That was followed by a brainstorming session where the Aviviot broke into small groups and shared their WIZO successes and challenges from their own federations with their Aviv colleagues from around the world. In the next session, entitled “Present & Inspire”, Aviv representatives from each country took turns presenting their WIZO activities from the past year to the entire group.
The Aviviot then walked over to the school’s gymnasium where they were met by two representatives from Mamanet, a cachibol league specifically for women and mothers in Israel. The Aviviot really enjoyed learning and playing the sport, which was a real bonding experience.
World WIZO Chairperson Prof. Rivka Lazovsky (center) and members of the WIZO Executive play Mamanet with the Aviviot
For lunch, the Aviviot were joined by members of the World WIZO Executive, led by World WIZO Chairperson Prof. Rivka Lazovsky who warmly welcomed the group.
After lunch, the group toured the Nachlat Yehuda Youth Village campus, visiting the animal center, the agro-tech gardens, the newly renovated dormitories and more. Along the way, they met Nachlat Yehuda students and heard from them about how the school has changed their lives. The special visit culminated with a rousing musical performance by Nachat Yehuda’s renowned student Song & Dance Troup.
On Monday, the Aviviot visited the WIZO Rebecca Sieff Centre for the Family (sponsored by WIZO UK).
They first visited the Gina Fromer Sheleter for Battered Women and their Children where they learned about WIZO’s important work with women who are victims of domestic violence.
Next, they visited the WIZO Secondary Vocational School where they saw the studio where students learn sound and music production, the salon where students study hairdressing, and the cookery program, where young student chefs are trained.
In the afternoon, the group visited Yad Vashem, The World Holocaust Remembrance Center, where they paid tribute to the 6 million Jews murdered in the Holocaust.
Towards the end of the visit to Yad Vashem, Co-World WIZO Aviv Representative Rachel Shnay pointed out that her grandfather appears in one of the museum's pictures of a group of immigrants arriving in Israel at its founding. He is the man holding the Israeli flag.
In the evening, the Aviviot traveled south to Genesis Land, a magical place situated in the heart of the Judean desert, on the way to the Dead Sea, in the land where the Patriarchs lived. There the Aviviot rode camels, ate ethnic food and experienced life as it was in biblical times.
Later that evening the Aviviot were presented with a lively presentation entitled “Making Israel Advocacy Sexy!” by Marketing and Media Consultant Rolene Marks, the Executive Member for Public Diplomacy for the World WIZO’s Chairperson’s Office
The final evening of the Aviv mission culminated with a celebratory dinner feauturing music, dancing and fun.
On Tuesday, the final day of the Aviv Mission, World WIZO’s Fundraising Division delivered an important Fundraising Workshop led by the division’s Chairperson Anita Friedman, Director Danny Shapiro and Coordinator/Grant Writer Adi Dror.
That session was followed by another valuable workshop entitled “Pitch it to Me – Articulating Your Message Impactfully” by Dafna Gold Melchior of Message Experts.
The Aviv Mission concluded with a farewell lunch at Jerusalem’s First Station.
Aviviot: "This was a life changing experience"
Upon conclusion of the mission, the participants shared their feelings in writing.
“From start to finish, this mission has been incredible!” Aviv participant Chaya Benchamoun from the USA wrote. “Every day was better than the next. Having the opportunity to see WIZO in action was a gift. Thank you for this amazing hands on experience.”
“Feeling inspired and motivated,” Marië Joshua-Querido, from WIZO Belgium wrote. “I am still reflecting on our amazing shared experience, the lessons we learned, the mentorship and guidance we received. A huge thanks to all the members of the World WIZO Leadership & Global Relations Division who made this possible: Chairperson Janine Gelley, Director Dr. Zohar Shalhevet, Deputy Chairperson Dalia Gantz, Lisa, Kirsty, and of course our co-chairs Shena & Rachel.”
“This was a really life changing experience,” wrote Valerie Friedman of WIZO USA.
“This Mission was the perfect opportunity to meet, network and share ideas for the future of WIZO Leadership,” Janine Gelley, Chairperson of World WIZO’s Leadership & Global Relations Division said. “You were able to see the exceptional work WIZO does in Israel while also developing your leadership, advocacy, and fundraising skills as you return to your Federations as strong WIZO ambassadors and leaders of the future.”
“We are honored to be the Co-World WIZO Aviv representatives, and are so excited to be leaders in the incredible family of WIZO sisters from around the world,” Shena Dominitz Falic and Rachel Shnay said. “As proud and passionate Jewish Zionistas, we hope to educate and connect like-minded young women to inspire them to become leaders in their own communities as well for Am Yisrael. We were both raised with WIZO as part of our extended families so it was natural for us to continue the work that countless incredible women have done before us. It is crucial for younger women to take the lead and continue carrying the WIZO torch to ensure the future of Eretz Yisrael, Klal Yisrael and Am Yisrael!”
“During this mission, you Aviviot have been given valuable tools to become tomorrow’s WIZO leaders, enabling you to inspire and empower other women to drive the WIZO message into the future,” World WIZO Chairperson Prof. Rivka Lazovsky said. “World WIZO applauds you, our Aviv delegates, who have made time out of your busy family and work schedules to come to Israel to ‘see and believe’ and bond with other women, from all walks of life, who demonstrate their Zionism and volunteerism through WIZO. You, the young Aviv ambassadors, are crucial to WIZO’s future and we thank you for answering WIZO’s call and for your promise to spread the WIZO impact with passion.”
“I had an incredible time and memories that will last a lifetime!” Monica Shatz of WIZO USA wrote. “I can't wait to share my experiences with our NY division. And hope to recruit them the join Aviv’s next mission!”
Photo Credits: World WIZO Aviv, Galit Yaacobi