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Voices

Eventful, impactful, empathetic – WIZO SA has a busy six months

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WIZO South Africa has had an industrious and fruitful first half of 2022. We’re an organisation full of dynamic women with a passion for Israel and a desire to make a positive impact on the lives of those who need it most.

As president, Shelley Trope-Friedman is constantly inspired by the work of WIZO across the country. “Over 18 months ago, I stepped into the role of president of WIZO South Africa and I remain committed and privileged to still be holding this role. Our federation includes our societies in Johannesburg, Pretoria, Cape Town, Durban, and Port Elizabeth, and I’m honoured to preside over them all. Our WIZO women are resourceful and pro-active, and I applaud them all for their contributions to the improvement of social justice for women and children in Israel and in South Africa.”

Over the past several months as the war in Ukraine unfolded before our eyes, it has been shocking and heartbreaking to see the trauma and devastation unleashed on the Ukrainian people.

We have all been impressed at how WIZO has responded. The organisation has been pro-active, and is implementing measures to provide comfort and support to Ukrainians in Israel.

In order to understand this, we must all be aware that when Jewish children anywhere are in distress, the eyes of the Jewish world turn to WIZO. As the Women’s International Zionist Organisation (the most influential social-welfare organisation in Israel), we have been caring for Jewish children in crisis, in Israel and the diaspora, for more than 100 years. This is who we are. Through all the decades, all the wars, persecutions, and crises – including in the aftermath of the Holocaust – WIZO was there with a loving embrace, food, shelter, education, pride, and independence.

Today, once again, we are witnessing the destruction and turmoil of war and are seeing children victimised. Yes, we at WIZO are there for them!

We may be unable to give tangible love and comfort as we are all in South Africa, but what we can do is give practical assistance by raising funds for WIZO. All our donations, no matter how small, go directly to Israel to help our Youth Villages and other projects that are assisting these refugees. This way, we can play a part even from afar to relieve the burden and trauma experienced by these young Ukrainians and all others in Israel who are suffering.

Our WIZO Youth Villages will continue to receive and welcome young refugees from Ukraine. At a time in their lives where they are broken and desperate, WIZO is there to take their hand and guide them through the heartache and trauma.

In order to tell this story to local South Africans, WIZO South Africa organised two successful radio interviews on Christian radio stations. Rolene Marks, world WIZO head of public diplomacy, was interviewed about Israel’s mediation and humanitarian role in the conflict as well as WIZO’s role in assisting Ukrainian refugees pouring into Israel. WIZO South Africa is proud to have played a pivotal role in educating and informing the broader South African audience on topical issues pertaining to Israel, which is of the utmost importance at a time when antisemitism is at an all-time high in our country.

The president and our WIZO women were excited when the The Woven Destiny Concert, which was such an exemplary musical held during Sukkot last year, was aired on a leading television station in the United Kingdom in April. Our WIZO Christian Zionist branch, headed by Elizabeth Campbell, was responsible for this incredible event. Shelley Trope-Friedman is thrilled at this development, and delighted that people across the UK have had the opportunity to learn more about WIZO South Africa and the beautiful friendship and partnership that we have with Campbell and our WIZO Christian Zionist women.

WIZO SA has enabled children with disabilities to become mobile, remain healthy, and participate more fully in community life. This has been done through a project to donate wheelchairs to children in our underprivileged communities. The name of the project, Wheelchairs of Hope, perfectly sums up the spirit of hope we’re seeking to give. When we were specifically looking for an outreach project that would benefit South Africa and Israel, WIZO’s close relationships with the various Israeli ambassadors was clearly in evidence when the Israeli embassy willingly introduced us to this wonderful project. Shelley Trope-Friedman and the WIZO South Africa leadership were privileged to enjoy a Zoom meeting with the Israeli Ambassador Eliav Belotsercovsky. Having met him personally at a previous meeting hosted by the South African Zionist Federation (Cape Council), the president found him to be more than amenable to assist her and WIZO SA in our various endeavours. This meeting cemented the previous working relationship which will now continue between WIZO SA and the Israeli embassy, and will reap much benefit for all involved.

WIZO South Africa is committed to being an agent of change and part of the solution that creates a safer and more beautiful society in Israel and here in our own backyard. Says Shelley Trope-Friedman, “As WIZO women, we will always work diligently and give of our time and finances to support and build up our Israel by empowering women to become overcomers and to fulfil their hopes and dreams. We will also never cease nurturing and protecting the young and vulnerable across Israeli society. Thank you to all the SA Jewish Report readers who so lovingly and generously support WIZO South Africa.”

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