WIZO History


On November, 1989 the Berlin Wall fell, and the Soviet Union collapsed in the following years. 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 made aliyah.

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 built security rooms in their homes, and equipped themselves with gas masks.

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

WIZO Milestones

1990 – 45 years after it was shut down by the war, 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 in Troyes, France, to mark 950th anniversary of Rashi’s 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 a WIZO day care center in her name in Sderot, sponsored by British WIZO.

1993 – 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.

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.

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 an 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 21st World Conference marks the movement’s 75th anniversary and the 3,000th 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 100th 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.

14 women are elected to the Knesset, the largest number in history…A reception is held for them by WIZO Israel’s Commission for the Advancement of Women in Politics.

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. “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 100th anniversary of the first Zionist Congress.

1999 – The Presidents of new WIZO Federations in Eastern and Central Europe – Hana Finkelstein, Latvia; Zuzana Vesela, Czech Republic; and Rachel Kostanian, Lithuania – are welcomed at the 1999 World WIZO Plenary.

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 achievements.

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 Chairperson 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 them by WIZO Israel’s Commission for the Advancement of Women in Politics.

The Adisia embroidery project for Ethiopian women is founded in Afula.

shaul mofaz WIZO Nahalal
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