Hundreds of former WIZO students gathered at the CHW Hadassim Youth Village in Even Yehuda on the evening of October 10th, for the official and historic launch of WIZO’s Graduates Association, a network of alumni from WIZO’s schools and youth villages that will serve as a new volunteer body working for the improvement of Israeli society. More than 3,000 WIZO graduates have already joined the association.
Alumni of WIZO schools and youth village reunite at the Graduate Association launch
Since its establishment in 1920, WIZO has established many educational institutions, including youth villages and boarding schools throughout the country, as well as special schools for youth at risk. The goal of the Graduates Association, which was initiated and established by World WIZO Chairperson, Prof. Rivka Lazovsky, is to expand the social work of the organization and to create a basis for social activity and contribution to the community among the tens of thousands of WIZO graduates. Additionally, the association is to establish a community of graduates to support and develop fellow WIZO graduates wherever they may be, including graduates of boarding schools who lack family support. The organization will work alongside the WIZO Executive, to realize the WIZO values of volunteerism, promote equal opportunities in education and society, support weaker populations and promote the status of women.
Many dignitaries attended the grand opening event including: MK Shelly Yachimovich, Deputy Chairperson of the Authority for the Advancement of the Status of Women Oshra Yosef Friedman, and TV personality and former MTV host Eden Harel (who served as the evening’s MC), all of whom attended CHW Hadassim.
Also in attendance were Danny Atar, Chairman of KKL-JNF and Brig. Gen. David Suissa, former chief artillery officer and Chairman of the WIZO Graduate Association, both of whom are graduates of WIZO Nir HaEmek.
Left to right: Brig. Gen. David Suissa - former chief artillery officer & chairman of WIZO Graduate Association, Eden Harel, MK Shelly Yachimovich, Danny Atar - Chairman of KKL-JNF, Prof. Rivka Lazovsky - World WIZO Chairperson, Oshra Friedman - Chairperson of Authority for the Advancement of the Status of Women
Among the musical performers at the event were Israeli duo, and CHW Hadassim graduates, Yonatan & Yahel (a pair of brothers who are also part of the popular Israeli musical duo, Guy & Yahel). In addition, Ben Chor-Aharon a student at CHW Hadassim who appeared on a new Israeli reality TV series ("Aviv or Eyal") which aims to find Israel’s next big talent, also performed for the packed crowd. The final musical performance was from the Nir Ha'Emek singing group, which has the audience clapping and singing in unison.
Student singing group from WIZO Nir Ha'Emek perform
At the climax of the event, the declaration declaring the founding of the WIZO Graduates Association was signed. The declaration contains a commitment to act "for the benefit of the society in the State of Israel, for the benefit of the graduates, and for the benefit of WIZO."
World WIZO Chairperson Prof. Rivka Lazovsky signing the Graduates Association declaration
An important feature of the Graduates Asscociaton is a new volunteer project entitled "Adopt a Graduate", in which the graduates of the organization will guide young graduates at important stations in their lives, in order to assist them in their military service, academic studies and integration into employment. WIZO currently operates more than 800 institutions and services throughout Israel in the areas of education and welfare, including a network of youth villages and vocational schools with over 5,500 youth, some of whom live in boarding schools and come from a background of risk or distress. Some of the youth villages were established prior to the establishment of the state, and were agricultural farms for the training of women. Among the graduates of WIZO’s youth villages are the late Hannah Szenes, the late IDF Chief of Staff and Defense Minister Moshe Dayan, former MK Shevach Weiss, actress Gila Almagor, and many others.
"The establishment of the Alumni Association is a significant milestone in the history of WIZO and its dedication to society, and it reflects our commitment to the resilience of Israeli society and the entire country,” World WIZO Chairperson Prof. Rivka Lazovsky said. “Today, thousands of our graduates are leading in all areas of life and constitute a social force capable of influencing, changing and acting in the spirit of WIZO values to improve society and promote the welfare of diverse populations. We have already been approached by thousands who feel the need to "give back" to the organization in which they were educated and shaped at the outset and to influence the social situation in Israel. We call on all our graduates to join the organization and embark on a journey of giving and influencing life in the State of Israel."
Photo Credits: Kfir Sivan