Happy 100th anniversary WIZO

July 8, 2020 by Henry Benjamin
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WIZO celebrates its 100th anniversary this year and J-Wire asked Federal President Paulette Cherny about WIZO’s history in Australia.

WIZO president Paulette Cherny

JW: In what year did WIZO start operations in Australia?

PC: The first group was formed in Melbourne in 1935 and in 1937 the Australian WIZO Federation was formed under the Presidency of Mrs Ruby Rich-Schalit.

JW: What plans does WIZO have to celebrate the centenary in Australia?

PC: As the centenary goes for a year and with COVID limiting any real celebrations anywhere currently, much of our celebrations will be via Zoom with World WIZO executive members zooming into our WIZOom.  We will sing happy birthday, light candles and hopefully for the moment that will suffice.  Also, there will be many social media posts with our members celebrating in many ways.  Once lockdown is lifted, during the year I am sure many states will be having functions to celebrate but we can only currently work with what we are able to do.  I am also sure that we will also be part of world-wide federation celebrations which some of the Federations are working on.

JW: …and in Israel?

PC: Earlier this year, in January, WIZO had an EGM and 1000 people from all over the world attended this fabulous celebration.  This was the beginning of our homage to our foremothers and what they have created.  It was a wonderful tribute to all WIZO.  As Israel is in the same position with COVID numbers again rising, I would think celebrations would be limited to WIZOoms throughout the work but again, we have a year to celebrate. World WIZO is going through archives and sending out to us and posting on social media our history and those who have gone before us and what they have achieved.

PC: What are your current projects? I would love you to go onto https://wizoaustralia.org.au/our-projects/

JW: How many members are there in WIZO, state by state?

PC:  VIC 1415    NSW 1100    QLD 232     WA 333     SA 46

JW: What have been the most memorable achievements for WIZO Australia?

PC: So many but not sure if you mean recently or over the years since 1935.  That fact that we are still a very strong organisation and part of an amazing sisterhood.  That we support all the projects under the banner of WIZO Australia and continually make improvements particularly at Ahuzat Yeladim over the past years where we have rebuilt and refurbished so many of the buildings to make life for these youth so much better.

We opened a new project in 2019 in Be’er Sheva called Makom BaLev (a place in the heart) which works with young women between 18 and 26 to assist them in having better lives by helping educate them and give them a reason for self-worth.  We have three amazing daycare centres which are state of the art and accommodate the needs of the local communities they are located in.  The Mandel Community Centre in Modi’in services the local community with a fabulous opp shop, communal classes for young mothers and the list goes on.

JW: What are the plans for WIZO in the foreseeable future.?

PC: For WIZO in Australia, our aim is to work towards attracting younger women as well as continuing to support those we work with on an ongoing basis.

During this time, many of the state offices spent days calling members to see that they were OK and if they had any needs.  Many have self-isolated due to health and age and we have kept in touch.

This is what sisterhood is all about – we really care.  We also need to reach out to the community and donors and impress on them how vital the work that WIZO does in Israel.  Being the largest social welfare organisation in Israel, second only to the Israeli Government and with the huge reduction in the ability to go out and fundraise, we need to rely on benevolent donors to help us continue to do our important work.

JW: Is there a healthy number of new young members?

PC: This is a priority and for myself, I am reaching to all younger women I meet.  We are working with AUJS and Betar and other organisations and schools to continue spreading the amazing work we do.  We have WIZO Kids and WIZO Teens and these are the future.

Also, we have a new younger President on WIZO Victoria who will be working towards this goal as part of her platform.  We are constantly getting new younger members but this has to be a priority.

J-Wire wishes WIZO a successful next 100 years.

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