One hundred WIZO leaders from across the globe assembled in Israel for the 2019 Meeting of Representatives (MOR), a week of solidarity and support for WIZO’s work in advancing all sectors of society in Israel.
Hailing from more than twenty countries worldwide, the delegates that came to Israel to participate in the 2019 Meeting of Representatives (MOR) for the five day conference visited WIZO schools and youth villages and enjoyed panels and sessions related to this year’s theme: ‘Innovation and Renewal’.
The intensive program opened with a festive evening event highlighting the spectacular impact of WIZO’s work on the children, youth and women of Israel, starring none other than the many recipients of WIZO’s care who have been empowered towards a better future through a variety of ways.
The next morning, World WIZO Chairperson Prof. Rivka Lazovsky officially opened the MOR. She was followed by greetings delivered by World WIZO Honorary President Tova Ben Dov and an address given by World WIZO President Esther Mor. Next, Prof. Lazovsky delivered the 2018 World WIZO report and WIZO Israel Chairperson Gila Oshrat gave the WIZO Israel 2018 report.
During the course of the MOR, participants enjoyed a special panel on “Innovative Women’s Leadership”, which featured Oshra Friedman, Deputy Director-General of the Authority for the Advancement of the Status of Women. Oshra has the distinction of both being a graduate of WIZO’s CHW Hadassim Youth Village and of WIZO’s Women’s Leadership Program.
Speaking about how her long path began as a young girl from an immigrant Ethiopian family, Oshra said, “I dropped out of school in 10th grade and came to the WIZO Hadassim youth village. On my first day at Hadassim, the principal there told me, “You can dream whatever you want and we’ll give you the tools to fulfill those dreams.”
World WIZO’s three divisions that deal directly with the federations, each lead a session during the MOR. The Leadership & Global Relations Division presented a session entitled “From the Ground Up: Rooting for our Future”, the Fundraising Division presented a new Bar/Bat Mitzvah Campaign and the Marketing & Public Relations Division delivered a session entitled “WIZO Raising: Marketing Tools and Information Sharing to Spread the WIZO Impact”.
The MOR also featured a special session led by Rolene Marks, World WIZO Executive Member for Public Diplomacy, who answered the participants questions on burning issues concerning Israel and the media and how to deal with BDS.
On Tuesday, Janaury 22nd, the MOR participants traveled to WIZO Nahalal, the iconic youth village founded in 1923 as an agricultural training school. After learning about Nahalal’s rich history from Director Galia Aleph, they were led on a tour of the campus by Nahalal’s students during which the students demonstrated Nahalal’s agriculture and farming studies.
They also visited Nahalal’s award-winning robotics lab where the students showed off their latest inventions. They met the inspiring international students from Nahalal’s Naaleh Program who shared their personal stories of how they came to Nahalal to receive a better education as well as students from Project Anières, an exclusive program at WIZO Nahalal that trains high school students to be engineers who then continue with their studies at the Technion.
The MOR participants then traveled to the WIZO Margaret Gold Music Centre–Tiberias WIZO MusicConservatory where they were treated to a fantastic concert by immensely talented student musicians of all ages. The evening in Tiberias concluded with dinner at the WIZO Maison Yehouda & Mazaltov Amar Women’s Center in Tiberias, after which the chaverot took part in a lively round of Middle Eastern dancing.
The MOR’s guest speakers included: Aryeh Lightstone, Chief of Staff, American Embassy on America – Israel relations and MK Dr. Michael Oren, Deputy Minister of Public Diplomacy who delivered the MOR’s keynote address entitled, “Israel and the Jews of the Diaspora- What Can We Expect from One Another”. “Every Jew, anywhere in the world,” Dr. Oren said in his speech, “is part of and belongs to Israel!”
The final day of the MOR was spent in Jerusalem, including a visit to the Western Wall. As is tradition, the WIZO MOR concluded with former WIZO USA Co-President Jana Falic graciously hosting a festive closing event for the participants. The “surprise guest” was none other than American-Jewish comedian and pro-Israel activist Roseanne Barr who spoke warmly of her admiration for WIZO’s important work. The evening continued with a festive meal and lively singing and dancing in a show of WIZO’s worldwide sisterhood.
World WIZO Chairperson Prof. Rivka Lazovsky summed up the week’s events. “I am so honored and humbled by the display of international Jewish female leadership that the WIZO MOR represents. WIZO, with the backing of the strongest Jewish communities in the world, will continue to be a ‘tree of life’ for women, children and the weakest sectors in Israeli society. On the international level, the fact that hundreds of women from around the world come to Israel reflects our ability to cope with disturbing phenomena of the de-legitimization of Israel around the world. I am confident that WIZO will continue to be a force for improving the lives of people in Israel for years and years to come.”
Photo Credits: Kfir Sivan