Wednesday 26 July 2017
I landed in Sydney and was picked up by Michelle Spiro – Treasurer of WIZO NSW.
WIZO NSW believe that donors should be afforded every respect and, that goes for potential donors too. Therefore, they arranged for me an unprecedented number of meetings with donors. These meetings are very special for me too. It allows me to strengthen our WIZO connection with the donors, many I know from my previous positions. It also gives me an opportunity to share my passion with them and potential donors.
In the evening, an hour after I checked into the hotel. Gilla Libermann Past Federal President and her husband Henry picked me up and took me to a private dinner at the house of one of NSW’s major donors. There were 5 couples in all, including
Anat Vidor – President of WIZO NSW and her husband. As everyone knew everyone and donate to WIZO, there was a very friendly and informal atmosphere and a very earnest conversation regarding our WIZO work and the WIZO Australia projects. During the evening, one of the guests received a WIZO Hai Pin and all the donors that were present pledged big amounts to WIZO.
Thursday 27 July 2017
In the morning Anat (Vidor ) picked me up and took me for morning tea to meet with the WIZO Rachel group at the house of Anita Simons – who pledged that morning AU$ 20.000 for the renovation of the DCC in Shikun Mizrach in Rishon LeZIon. These ladies in their late 60s and early seventies heard from me about our WIZO work in general and the Multi-Purpose Day Care Centres in particular, WIZO Australia projects and about wills and bequests. At least five of them have committed wills to WIZO; others were surprised to learn about this easy method of donating through life insurance.
They were thrilled to hear about the work carried out at our Multi-purpose DCCs and at WIZO Ahuzat Yeladim, and were moved by the story of 10 year old Igor, who is just learning how to be happy like his peers.
Anat then took me for lunch at the Adina hotel where I met with our WIZO Hadassim our graduates Guy and Yahel who were participating in the annual WIZO NSW event. This isn’t the first time we have met at WIZO events but it was the first opportunity to hear from them, face to face about their personal WIZO experience. As one of Israel’s top duos, they are true testimony to what youth are able to achieve through WIZO.
At about 16:30 I met a donor at the hotel who also pledged funds to WIZO.
In the evening Anat took me to the house of Rebecca Erlich to meet members of the WIZO Ayelet and WIZO Yaffa groups. There, Past President Rony Bognar interviewed me on all WIZO related topics in an informal manner. I also met a friend who I hadn’t seen for over 20 years. In celebration of the event she became a WIZO member and made a good donation. (photo : L to R. Paulette Cherny, E-M, Gilla Liberman, and Rony Bognar)
Friday 28 July 2017.
Elaine Brown Co-President of the WIZO Ayelet group took me sightseeing in the morning. We were joined at lunch at Dunbar House by another three WIZOites Just 30 metres from the shores of Watsons Bay. This restaurant is located in a stunning historic building and the view is breathtaking. Two of the ladies spoke about the King George DCC, as they had visited it a couple of months previously.
I returned to the hotel in the late afternoon. Shabbat Dinner was at the house of Julie Ross with the Management Committee and partners. That evening we had two pledges totalling $ 12,000. Guy and Yahel shared their special story and repertoire with them and there wasn’t a dry eye around the table. One of the
Executives was so moved by my visit that she pledged $ 50,000 to honour her mother after the dinner. It was amazing.
Saturday 29 July 2017
I spent a beautiful day with Past President Rony Bognar and husband George, as Saturday is a day of leisure in Australia as well.
Sunday 30 July 2017
The day was spent with some of WIZO NSW major donors and their spouses that took me sightseeing, while learning more about WIZO work worldwide. They also attended the special annual event on 2 August.
Past President Gilla Liberman and husband Henry took me out for dinner. It is always lovely to meet up with Gilla and Henry and we spent a wonderful and relaxing evening together.
Monday 31 July 2017
I began the day with a breakfast meeting with a donor whom we asked for $ 20.000. She pledged $ 11,000 which is a great achievement considering that she traditionally donates $ 1,500 only.
I was taken to meet and talk with the Monday Morning Cooking Club (MMCC) who have published a number of very successful books about Jewish cooking. I was asked to sign their new cook book. Again the update on our WIZO work in Australia and worldwide was received with interest and pride,
Afterwards I met with Past President Gilla Liberman and a group of Board members to discuss how to make WIZO NSW stronger.
Later in the afternoon, together with Anat Vidor and Rony Bognar. I had a special appointment with a major Sydney entrepreneur and donor whose wife is a WIZOite. At the end of the meeting, and at the donor’s request due to the volume of the donation, Ronny’s husband, Adv. George Bognar is drafting a proper legal offer for them, that will greatly benefit WIZO NSW.
After lunch I met in two separate meetings with more of WIZO NSW major donors and then with the children of Tom and Rae Mendel who would like to continue their parents legacy.
The day ended at dinner with Michelle Spiro and her partner Paul. Michelle’s father used to be a major donor, and I am trying to get him back.
Tuesday 1 August 2017
I met with a donor and his wife. His mother was a member of “Friends of WIZO” that I founded, and she passed away last year. In her memory he committed to $ 30,000 that morning.
I was taken to meet with WIZO Ilana group at Wendy Rosenthal’s home for morning tea – something very different to what is regarded in Israel as morning tea. The home hospitality here in Australia is very warm and informal while providing a platform, to showcase our WIZO work and projects. The Ilana and Darom Groups are ladies of between 70-90 years – lifelong members. They were very receptive to the idea of wills and bequests when they heard it can be referred to as “one’s last love letter to one’s loved ones.”
After lunch, together with Anat Vidor, I met with donors at the hotel who were interested in WIZO Ahuzat Yeladim and Makom BaLev, and gave them the proposals that Anat had from the Fundraising Division.
Wednesday 2 August 2017
The big day finally arrived, the WIZO NSW Annual Fundraiser – Major Donors’ Event and nothing could prepare me for the amazing day it turned out to be. Over seven hundred and thirty people including all the major donors that I had met and had pledged funds on the various days of my visit, also answered the invitation and pledged additional funds.
Anat Vidor advised me that a donor I had met last year, and was aboard, heard I was attending the event and sent $ 10,000 in my honour. The day started with a meeting with a potential donor who I convinced to get on board with us.
The event took place at Randwic Race Course and at 18:00 when the doors opened no-one was there but by 18:45 – 730 people had already arrived. There was magic in the air.
Anat Vidor – President of WIZO NSW opened the event with great eloquence and asked me to come up and speak about WIZO. In the three-minute allotted time, I dedicated this special event to a WIZO Member Marianne van der Portend, the mother of Rose Fakete – who passed away recently at the age of
- Marianne z”l was an amazing person, a true role model and inspiration. She led a full and meaningful life. She survived the Holocaust and after the war left Holland for Australia. Her love and commitment to Judaism, Zionism, and WIZO was total and evident in all that she did.
Marianne frequently attended the EGMs. Marianne z”l leaves behind a family and a legacy that will continue to keep her memory alive. I was asked to honour her memory – which I did, mentioning that I will always remember her with a glass of wine in her hand – celebrating life.
I also reminded everyone that it is impossible to imagine Israel without WIZO and WIZO still needs the audience as members and as donors. This dedication made the evening into an outstanding Fundraising event and the pledges began to roll.
Guy and Yahel – WIZO Hadassim graduates gave a great performance that included a song they wrote, as well as renditions to Hallelujah (L. Cohen), Hallelujah that won Israel the Eurovision Song Contest and Imagine by John Lennon to remind the audience what Israel would be without WIZO. . Avi Issacharoff – whose child attended a WIZO DCC, the producer of the successful Israeli production Fauda- (Arabic for ‘Chaos’) that depicts the two-sided story of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict – also had the audience mesmerized when speaking about the idea and background material that led to the series.
One donor pledged $ 1.5 million dollars and others followed suite with smaller but impressive amounts. The event ended with donations and pledges which exceeded any previous such event, it was a huge success. All in all, the event met the renovation of WIZO Ahuzat’s Yeladim kitchen and Makonm BaLev commitments.
I applaud Anat Vidor, her Executive and staff for a well-planned and very successful annual event. It will be a hard act to follow for any Federation.
Additional amounts from this event will allow WIZO Victoria to undertake new commitments.
Thursday 3 August 2017
Today started later with a meeting of donors from the real estate field. As you can imagine – their questions were different from other donors due to their professional affiliation.
Michelle Spiro and I had a lunch meeting with three donors, and at the venue we met additional donors – I hope it was a success. I still have to hear about it.
After lunch, Anat took me to meet the President of the Women’s International Zionist Council at my hotel and discussed how we could work together.
Friday 4 August 2017
I was invited to Anat and Gary Vidor”s home for a Shabbat Dinner and there I met another couple of potential donors who also made a pledge that evening. .
Saturday 5 August,
A relaxing day, a final meeting with the WIZO NSW Management Committee to summarize my mission and an early supper – all in a very happy atmosphere and all still feeling ecstatic about the results of the event earlier in the week.
Sunday, 6 August
At 3:30 in the morning, I was picked up by Michelle and transferred to the airport for the first leg of flight home via Hong Kong and arrived Monday night.
I will conclude by quoting from Anat Vidor’s letter of 1 September 2017 – :
“Esther, you are an inspiration to us all, your wise and elegant style goes a very long way and touches the WIZO supporters here. I am still amazed by your energy, You were on the go for 24/7 and whilst I ended up looking by the end like I have been hit by a truck, you always seemed to look fresh and energetic. XXX
Really, todah raba from the bottom of our hearts and you have resparked the fire and passion in us. Lots of Love and may G-d give you the energy to keep on doing your miraculous work.”