Jewish and Israeli women from across England gathered in London during the second week in July to celebrate WIZO UK’s 100th birthday.
Exactly one hundred years ago, pioneering British Zionist women took a central role in the return to Zion. Led by Rebecca Sieff, Vera Weizmann and Romana Goodman, the wives of prominent Zionists and powerful personalities in government circles, they founded a “Ladies Committee” within the British Zionist Federation in 1918. This eventually became known as the Federation of Zionist Women, later British WIZO, and today WIZO.uk.
WIZO UK celebrated its historic 100th birthday, as part of a full week of community-wide events in the UK. Prof. Rivka Lazovsky, Chairperson of World WIZO, traveled from Israel to London to pay tribute to WIZO UK and to represent WIZO and its important work in the British parliamentary circles and the Jewish community.
The climax of the celebrations took place at St. Johns Wood Synagogue in London on July 11th, when Ronit Ribak Madari was appointed WIZO UK's new Chairperson, the first Israeli native to hold the title. Former WIZO UK Chairperson Michele Pollock was appointed President.
World WIZO Chairperson, Prof. Rivka Lazovsky (bottom row: third from left) and WIZO UK Chairperson Ronit Ribak Madari (bottom row: fourth from left) with members of the WIZO UK team
“I am proud to join a long and celebrated list of WIZO UK leaders, strong and hardworking British Zionist women who spearheaded this movement through its golden past," WIZO UK's new Chairperson Ronit Ribak Madari said. "I am proud of the women who saw the need, who rolled up their sleeves and got the job done.”
Today WIZO’s members number 250,000 in WIZO Federations around the world supporting WIZO’s work in Israel to strengthen Israeli society, by education, advancing women's rights, and giving hope to vulnerable families through a comprehensive network of social services.
WIZO’s 800 projects in early age education, schools, youth villages, women’s empowerment programs, abused women shelters, and programs for the empowerment of girls, women and co-existence initiatives throughout the country make WIZO a leading social services provider in Israel.
“On behalf of World WIZO, I wish to offer my heartfelt congratulations to our ‘Mother Federation’, WIZO UK on their historical milestone, their 100th birthday,” World WIZO Chairperson Prof. Rivka Lazovsky said. “We are mindful that without the vision of our British Federation there would be no WIZO on an international scale as there is today. We are grateful to their unwavering sponsorship of so many WIZO projects here in Israel. May they continue to grow from strength to strength."
WIZO UK Chairperson Ronit Ribak Madari (left) with WIZO UK President Michele Pollock (right)
Photos courtesy of WIZO UK