On January 8, 2018, an exceptional ceremony took place at Makom Ba Lev in Be’er Sheva. WIZO Australia president, Paulette Cherney, was honoured to open the shelter with His Excellency, Chris Cannan, Australian ambassador to Israel. Anat Vidor, dedicated member and President of WIZO New South Wales, the Australian delegation, representatives from the municipality of Be’er Sheva, WIZO Israel social workers, and members of the World WIZO Fundraising Division attended this monumental achievement.
The women of WIZO Australia have worked tirelessly to realize the dream of opening this shelter for women at-risk in Be’er Sheva. Due to their determination and persistence, Makom Ba Lev, a place in the heart, is now an open stunning treatment centre and emergency shelter. This newly renovated facility provides women at-risk a place to receive a warm meal, a place to rest their heads, and a safe environment to depend on.
The shelter now has a state-of the art kitchen, two washrooms, living room, dining room, meeting room for group therapy, emergency housing for 4 women, an office and overnight accommodations for staff. The ceremony began by Paulette and the Ambassador revealing the gorgeous plaque dedicating the inauguration of the shelter. Before cutting the ribbon, Anat and her husband Gary, Paulette, and the Ambassador affixed the mezuzah and said the blessing together. Paulette and the Ambassador then cut the ribbon together, opening the home to all!
After a tour of the shelter by WIZO Israel social workers, attendees enjoyed refreshments before distinguished guests spoke. Greetings were read on behalf of Prof. Rivka Lazovsky, Chairperson World WIZO Executive. His Excellency Ambassador Cannan praised the women of WIZO Australia for their committed connection to Israel, and the profound impact they have on Israeli society. He also highlighted the continued connection Australia has to the city of Beer Sheva, just over 100 years after the Battle of Be’er Sheva. Paulette, president of WIZO Australia, addressed the WIZO Israel staff enthused by the incredible work which will transpire at Makom BaLev. “We built this building, but what you do, is build lives.” Anat Vidor spoke emotionally about the project sharing everyone’s sentiments and included greetings from Esther Mor, President World WIZO. Finally, guests were lucky enough to hear from Tal, a young woman who benefited from WIZO Beit Adi a treatment centre similar to Makom Ba Lev for younger girls. She spoke bravely about the impact that WIZO has in her life, referring to WIZO as “home.” She now has become a mentor, and coaches women who are in similar situations she once was.
It was a touching ceremony, and a beautiful way to celebrate the profound work that WIZO Australia has done in Israel. Makom Ba Lev is the embodiment of our visionary Theodore Herzel’s ideal, “If you will it, it is not a dream,”