There seems to be a slight miscomprehension in certain quarters as to what a WIZO Mission is and what it entails. Therefore, I am writing this report in the form of a journal – to give you a very detailed recording of events.
But first, Australia – often called “down under” is a continent comprised of five states. WIZO Australia has a WIZO Federal President (alternately from Victoria or NSW) and each state has a WIZO State President. This mission I was invited to WIZO Victoria (Melbourne) and to WIZO New South Wales (Sydney). The Aussies are very warm, open, fun and sports loving people. They are proud, they don’t believe in “beating about the bush” and are very direct, saying exactly what they think – so nothing is lost in translation.
Boasting over 70 ethnic groups – they may have a point. Everywhere you go, you here mate; men are fondly referred to as Bruce and women – Sheila (Hello mate, look at the Bruce and Sheila over there).
In order to fly to Australia, one has to take a connecting flight that entails a least one night in Hong Kong, Singapore or Manilla. The only available flight was via Hong Kong on Thursday. I left on Monday night and arrived in Melbourne on Friday morning. Due to the connection I had to stay 2 nights in Hong Kong.
I stayed for 5 nights in Melbourne and Wednesday morning I took a flight to Sydney.
Friday 21 July 2017
At 7:30 in the morning I finally landed in Melbourne. I was met by Ernie, the husband of WIZO Australia Federal President Paulette Cherny. After such a long journey, it was wonderful to see a famliar face. Ernie is a wonderful person and his support for Paulette and her WIZO work is total. He drove me to the Kimberley Gardens where I stayed. As Paulette, is a
travel agent and familiar with the jet lag, she didn’t make plans for the morning hours.
Lunch time, I met with Helen Granek President of WIZO Victoria, who took me to lunch with a number of friends she wanted to recruit. I was amazed by the levels of interest displayed. In the evening, Paulette and husband Ernie took me to Helen Graneck’s for a Friday Shabbat Dinner –
where I met with senior members of WIZO Victoria and friends of Helen and her husband. They did everything to make me feel at home and forget how far away from my own family I was. It was wonderful to see how supportive the WIZO Victoria husbands are.
Saturday 22 July 2017
Helen Granek picked me up and took me sightseeing in Melbourne –something I didn’t have time to do on my mission last year. . Lunch time, we met Paulette and some members of the Executive. Although I had only met Helen the day before, we got along “like a house on fire”. In the evening there was a casual and informal dinner with members of the Federal WIZO Executive and the WIZO Victoria State Executive at the home of Nina Richwol. Approx. 30 people. They were very interested in the update regarding World WIZO, the connection between World WIZO & WIZO Victoria and the challenges facing WIZO that I provided I also heard about their challenges, aspirations and constraints. This was a very open and transparent conversation.
Sunday 23 July 2017
Paulette picked me up from the hotel and we spent the morning together, deepening our acquaintance and discussing the WIZO issues dear to our hearts. Again it was a very open and transparent discussion – in order to better understand and when possible resolve outstanding issues.
- In the afternoon, Paulette took me to the WIZO ‘Child of the Year’ Function that took place at Beit Weisman where
most of WIZO Victoria’s activities are held. The audience was about 100 strong – parents, grandparents, women, men and children. In this annual activity, each group picks a child to be the face of their campaign and an award is presented to the group or the child that did best at Fundraising. It was wonderful to see three generations together celebrating their WIZO work. I was asked to thank everyone for their hard work as volunteers, applaud their efforts and emphasize the
importance and necessity of WIZO. After Paulette and Helen announced the first three places – I was asked to hand out certificates to each child and have a photo taken with each child. I was humbled by the warm welcome I received and overwhelmed by the genuine interest and caring expressed by all.
One of the girls in the group donated AU$ 9000 of her Bat Mitzvah money to WIZO, therefore , she was awarded an additional award for her exceptional deed.
In the evening I was taken to Ronit Chrapot’s residence for an evening of appeal with approximately 30/35 30’s – 40’s age groups -members as well as potential new members.
As requested, I spoke about WIZO and why women should join it; WIZO Australia’s projects especially Makom Ba’lev and the parental hotline. I was taken aback by the level of interest and motivation expressed by some of the potential members who later in the week founded a new group. A number of pledges to projects were made- to be followed up by Paulette and Helen.
Monday 24 July
My day started very early – at 08:00 when Helen Granek took me to breakfast in the WIZO boardroom at Beit Weizmann. There I met with the staff of WIZO Victoria and WIZO Australia. It was an informal meeting but such fun and mutually informative. At last I could put faces to names on e-mails and voices over the phone. We tend to forget that while Federations Presidents and Executives change positions –
the loyal staff are always there to guarantee smooth operation of the Federation and maintain the cooperation with World WIZO headquarters, so this was a wonderful opportunity to thank them.
I was interviewed by Rebecca Davis of the The Australian Jewish News for the edition that was available on Thursday 27 July. Rebecca hopes to come to Israel in a few months’ time and I offered to share with her the WIZO Ahuzat Yeladim Boarding School.
At 10:45 we were at the second Helen Granek’s home (there are two Helen Granek’s in Melbourne), where she hosted Morning Tea for older age group members of her NIRIM group and the, ZAHAV, NETHANYA, SAVYON, WIZO FOREVER, and TSAFON groups. I gave an update on their projects in Israel; the importance of being a WIZO member, the Importance of leaving a legacy (wills & bequests). Although lifelong WIZO members, they told me how informative my speech was and how much they had learned.
In the afternoon I was taken to meet with donors and talk about WIZO Australia projects.
In the late afternoon I met with Past President Jo Gostin. It has been some time since we last met, so we had a lot to talk about. Jo was able to provide me with her opinion and perspective, taking into account the passage of time since she was in office.
At 19:30 we were back at Beit Weizmann for an Evening with all groups of WIZO Victoria. Here I was asked to give a motivational talk about special programmes of support for Israeli Society-men’s groups, women’s support groups, programmes to meet children’s special needs, the Parental hotline. There was time for questions and answers that demonstrated the deep caring and devotion our WIZO Victoria members have for our movement, and for their projects here. This was the first time such an evening was conducted. Videos were shown about our WIZO representatives in the UN and the fire at WIZO Ahuzat Yeladim.
Tuesday 25 July
Paulette took me to Betty Frid’s house to meet her (Paulette’s) group – Masada – the largest group in WIZO Australia that just celebrated its 70th anniversary. After explaining the significance of their name, they heard about WIZO’s role in Israeli society and in the international arena, about the new kitchen in WIZO Ahuzat Yeladim, the pet therapy and about leaving a legacy that they can define the terms of. As with previous groups, I was surrounded by warmth and genuine interest and pride in our WIZO work.
In the afternoon, I met with donors and am happy that they have pledged amounts towards Makon Balev and the new kitchen in WIZO Ahuzat Yeladim.
In the evening. I was taken to a cocktail party by exclusive invite only, organized for about 100 people. I was asked to talk about the projects and the importance of fundraising with focus on the new kitchen in WIZO Ahuzat Yeladim. Personally. I think the most compelling sentence was “donating to WIZO is the best investment you will ever make and that’s because the return on your investment – Is the future of young people and the future of society in the State of Israel.”
Wednesday 26 July
Ernie, the husband of WIZO Australia Federal President Paulette Cherney, picked me up and took me to the airport for my flight from Melbourne to Sydney – New South Wales (NSW) .