JEWISH WOMEN'S WEEK
3 - 10 May
In view of Covid-19, The Jewish Women’s Week (JWW) Campaign which is traditionally supported by WPS and usually takes place in May, has had to postpone it's door-to-door collections within the Jewish community.
If you are able to donate, please visit http://www.wizouk.org selecting ‘Jewish Women’s Week 2020’.
Ladies Tikkun Talk - WIZO by Yvonne Hay
I am sure that all of you know of WIZO, the Women's International Zionist Organisation, and have some idea of its work. My aim is to give you a more detailed picture.
A group of very determined women, some of whom were keen suffragettes fighting for the political right of women to vote in Britain, felt that Jewish women should have a distinct and equal role to men in the movement for the return to Zion.
In 1918 a Zionist Commission went on a fact finding mission to Palestine. Rebecca Sieff, Dr Vera Weizmann and Edith Eder had the opportunity to participate in this visit. What they found was a profound shock to them. During and after the First World War, the Jewish population in Palestine had been depleted due to expulsions, disease and famine. Physically and spiritually women were impoverished and suffering - pioneers and city women alike.
On the women's return to Britain, they formed a Women's Federation which then led in 1920 to a conference with participants from many countries and the founding of WIZO. Rebecca Sieff spoke at length on the idea that women should work together as a body and in doing so, through education and training, develop their own abilities and powers to make things happen. It was decided that the women should work independently but in cooperation with their men comrades for the rebuilding of the Zionist home.
The resolutions that were adopted in 1920 for action in Palestine were to set the tone for later developments. These were:
- The establishment of a home for immigrant girls.
- The establishment of an Agricultural school for girls.
- Provision of kitchen equipment for the girls' school in Haifa.
- The establishment of a centre for the care of babies.
In Palestine itself women were also organising themselves. Soon these organisations began to have a working relationship with, and to receive support from World WIZO. Examples included the Baby Welfare Clinics and milk distribution, as well as projects to help the needy, such as Sewing Circles, Committees for the Distribution of Clothing and the Care of Abandoned Children.
At The School for Home Economics, courses were held on growing vegetables and flowers, cultivating bees, and lessons in home management. Graduates then went out to teach others - within the urban areas, to develop vegetable gardens - and in the kibbutzim, farming, home economics and kitchen management. This became increasingly important, as during the 30s more and more immigrants arrived, mainly from Germany, with no experience of agriculture. In time other areas of education were developed by the WIZO
Training Department - for example office work
In 1949, following the establishment of the State of Israel, the WIZO Head Office was transferred from London to Israel and Rebecca Sieff was elected first President of World WIZO.
In the fifties, the Ministry of Labour entered into partnership with WIZO, providing part of the finance for some of the courses. This partnership continues to the present day. The fifties also saw an enormous amount of work by WIZO to help in the absorption of the new immigrants flowing into Israel - schools, youth villages, welfare services.
WIZO also actively promoted laws, eventually passed by the Knesset, to improve the legal position of women and their benefits. In 1959 the UN recognised WIZO as a Non Governmental Organisation (NGO). WIZO has not confined its help only to Jewish women. For example in 1962 the first WIZO club for Arab women was opened in Nazareth. A few years later similar clubs were established for Druze and Bedouin women.
After the Six Day War and in response to Teddy Kollek's, the then Mayor of Jerusalem, request to strengthen reunited Jerusalem, WIZO built new day care centres in the city and today there are 22 WIZO day care centres there. At the same time the Department for Care of Families of War Casualties was opened. Over the years WIZO's work expanded - education continued to be a prime concern with teacher training colleges in a variety of disciplines established all over the country.
Another concern was of course the welfare of women and children. For example in 1984 the First Shelter for Battered Women was opened. The Jerusalem Baby Home and Family Centre began a pupils' club for children of working mothers, extended in time to other WIZO centres. In cooperation with the Ministry of Social Welfare the first non-residential Therapeutic Child Centre was opened for children from problem homes. In areas of deprivation WIZO has breakfast clubs where children and sometimes parents receive a good meal to start the day.
I could continue for a lot longer listing the initiatives that WIZO has sponsored and continues to sponsor. More details about the history of WIZO and its current projects can be found on its website www.wizouk.org. Head office would be only too pleased to arrange a visit to any of its projects should you wish to do so next time you are in Israel.
Now what happens here at Woodside Park. The group here was started by Andie Epstein as a Reading Group. We meet once a month to discuss a book that we have read. However that is for our own enjoyment and education. To raise money for WIZO, we arrange lunches or dinners with a famous author as the lead speaker. Some of you may have attended. Once a year we have a clothes and Bric & Brac collection for the WIZO shop in Kilburn. We also take part in two national events - the WIZO Bridge Week and the WIZO Quiz. For bridge, each hostess invites friends either for lunch or dinner to make up one or more tables and asks for a donation from each one. So if you are a bridge player we would be happy to hear from you. The Annual Quiz is great fun. Again each hostess invites friends for a meal and to take part in the quiz. At the end of the evening answers are sent via computer to Head Office and a national winner is declared. My daughter always gloats over me because she and her friends always beat my group by several places. We are always looking for new households to take part. Please contact Andie or me if you are interested.
Another fundraiser is Jewish Women's Week. Andie Epstein is the present Chair for Jewish Women's Week, while I am sure you all know of the sterling work Rosemary Goodman does in this area. With her team of door knockers over£9000 is raised every year. Rosemary would very much like to hear from anyone who is prepared to knock on at least five doors and ask for a donation next year.
In conclusion now that you know where the money you donate goes, please be generous when we come knocking on your door, or ask you to an event or to buy a raffle ticket.