Agents of change in Israel and South Africa

WIZO SA President Shelley Trope-Friedman with the Israeli Ambassador to South Africa Eliav Belotsercovsky

— WIZO SA continues to make a positive and lasting impact!

By Galya Tregenza Hall

WIZO South Africa has had an industrious and fruitful first half of 2022 — we are an organisation full of dynamic women with a passion for Israel and a desire to always make a positive impact in the lives of those who need it most.

As President, Shelley Trope-Friedman is constantly inspired by the work of WIZO across the country. She said, “Over 18 months ago I stepped into the role as 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 am 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 both in Israel and South Africa’’.

Over the last several months as the war in Ukraine unfolded before our eyes it has been shocking and heart-breaking to see the trauma and devastation being unleashed on the Ukrainian people.

We have all been impressed and proud at how WIZO has responded in that WIZO 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 Organization, we have been caring for Jewish children in crisis, in Israel and the diaspora for more than 100 years. This is who we are. As so it was, through all the decades, all the wars and 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 we are seeing how children are being victimised… Yes, we at WIZO are there for them!!

WIZO is absorbing more and more Ukrainian refugee children into our Youth Villages, as well as continuing to care for the 68 Ukrainian youths already studying and living in WIZO Villages. We are reaching out to Ukrainian refugees and immigrants in communities throughout Israel, offering the emotional, social and material assistance they need.

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 go directly to Israel to help these Youth Villages and other projects. This way we can play a part, even from afar, to relieve the burden and trauma being 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. We will do whatever we can to walk the road alongside them — Jews and non-Jews alike — in their darkest hour. At a time in their lives where they are broken and desperate, WIZO is there — to take their hands and guide them through the heartache and trauma.

In order to tell this story to local South Africans, WIZO South Africa organized two successful radio interviews on Christian radio stations. World WIZO Executive member and Head of Public Diplomacy for WIZO, Rolene Marks, was interviewed about Israel’s mediation and humanitarian role in the conflict, as well as WIZO’s role in assisting the Ukrainian refugees that are pouring into Israel. Both interviews were a tremendous success in educating and informing the broader South African audience on topical issues pertaining to Israel.

Further media exposure, albeit on a different topic, was enjoyed by WIZO South Africa when the Woven Destiny Concert, the exemplary Sukkot musical event spearheaded by our Christian Zionist WIZO Branch Chairman Elizabeth Campbell, was aired on Revelation TV, a leading television station in the United Kingdom, in April. President Shelley is thrilled at this development and delighted that people across the UK have had the opportunity to learn more about WIZO South Africa and also the beautiful friendship and partnership that we have with our Christian Zionist friends.

Our Wheelchairs of Hope project remains active across the country.  WIZO is honoured to be part of something that enables children with disabilities to become mobile, remain healthy and participate more fully in community life. Our WIZO South Africa leadership were privileged to enjoy a Zoom meeting with the Israeli Ambassador Eliav Belotsercovsky. WIZO has always enjoyed a close relationship with the various Israeli Ambassadors and it was in fact the Israeli Embassy that introduced us to the incredible NGO Wheelchairs of Hope. This is now our main outreach project here in South Africa. There is no doubt that this positive working relationship will continue and that a fruitful partnership between WIZO South Africa and the Israeli Embassy will reap much benefit for all involved.

Our President Shelley says, “I am particularly excited about a wonderful development following a Zoom talk hosted by WIZO Cape Town’s Gilah Branch in March, when the Gilah ladies hosted Pamela Ngubane who is the recently appointed General Manager of South African Friends of Israel.” 

Following the talk, which was viewed by the National Directors of Bridges for Peace South Africa (BFP SA) Chris and Cecilia Eden, Shelley was informed that BFP SA had decided to fully sponsor Pamela to attend their annual Institute of Israel studies programme in Israel last month. BFP is a leading Christian Zionist organisation and very close friends of WIZO. President Shelley says, ‘’We look forward to partnering with Pamela in the future, and I am confident in her clear ability to be a spokesperson for Israel on the complex South African landscape.”  

WIZO South Africa is committed to being agents of change and being part of the solution that creates a safer and more beautiful society in Israel and also here in our own backyard. President Shelley says, “As WIZO women, we will always work diligently and give of our time and finances to support and build up our Israel.” 

Kadima! Here’s to making the remainder of 2022 a great success!

Shelley Trope-Friedman and WIZO SA wish all readers a Chag Shavuot Sameach!

WIZO SA President Shelley Trope-Friedman with Bridges for Peace SA National Directors Chris and Cecilia Eden

Find WIZO SA on Facebook.

• Published in the PDF edition of the June 2022 issue – Click here to read it.

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