The heart of WIZO is Women for Women

Shelley Trope-Friedman, President, WIZO SA

WIZO is a Zionist organisation that was established in 1920 in England through the vision of Rebecca Sieff.  

She and Vera Weizmann founded WIZO as a way to realise their dream of achieving the betterment of the lives of Jewish women and children. Vera’s husband Chaim became president of Israel. On a visit to South Africa, they envisaged one united front called Women’s International Zionist Organisation, South Africa!

The heart of WIZO is Women for Women. This article highlights some of the incredible assistance that abused women receive in Israel from our beloved WIZO.

Our foster homes and day care centres in Israel continue to flourish and are a source of hope, comfort and provision. They provide physical, emotional and social integration to help women and children become responsible functioning adults. This project shapes and uplifts the State of Israel, and WIZO South Africa is proud to have assisted in maintaining these homes. 

At least 200 000 women and 600 000 children are victims of domestic violence and abuse in Israel. Abuse of women is a worldwide phenomenon to which Israel is not immune. WIZO runs two battered women’s shelters that provide victims of domestic violence with the lifeline and support they need to pick up their lives and start anew. In the shelters they learn to take control of their lives, by receiving a clear message that they are protected and can start moving forward, striving to attain quality of life after trauma.

Women are referred to the shelters by government departments and/or the emergency hotline operated by WIZO. They are provided with counselling, financial planning, job training, legal advice and support groups. They are encouraged to spend time with their children and also receive child care guidance. These women are empowered to lead independent and financially stable lives. 

A fathers’ project, led by a group of men living in the neighbourhood, visits the shelter, portraying positive male role models for the residents.

Once these women and children move to transitional apartments, the true triumph is visible. The post-shelter programme for families called Growing Together assists integration back into the community, whilst weekly gatherings at local WIZO branches provide mentorship and support. 

In a guidance programme called New Page, a social worker assists with the next steps and provides financial and vocational rehabilitation. On leaving the shelter, the transition is more manageable and the women feel less alone.

A recently launched programme called Continuing On Your Way teaches women to learn more about themselves and acquire ways of coping. It is free for women who require assistance. 

Families who stay together come for treatment.Domestic violence is addressed and WIZO provides dedicated treatment to the violent person. This project, funded by WIZO, also offers a 24-hour anonymous hotline for men, the only one of its kind in Israel.  

Recently, a campaign of advertisements on the buses was launched for this WIZO men’s hotline. Amazingly, 150 callers flooded the line, reaching out for help and ready for change. 

One caller said, “I was alone with my anger and had nowhere to turn. Calling the hotline gave me the first step to change my ways and have better communication with my family.” 

WIZO’s purpose is to increase the number of women in positions of power and influence to ultimately reduce violence in Israeli society, and thereby empower women across Israel. When the family can be helped and the abuser rehabilitated, WIZO always step in.

One woman said, “When I left the shelter, I was stronger and more independent than ever. WIZO took me out of the darkness that was my life.” This is what WIZO aims for, by continuing to do what matters!

WIZO’s aim is to give women a sense of belonging and to boost their confidence, thereby uplifting lives. WIZO is recognised as the largest Women’s Zionist Organisation in the world. WIZO makes a genuine difference in the lives of the most vulnerable in Israel. 

WIZO South Africa wishes you and your families a happy and prosperous new year.

Website: WIZO South Africa

• Published in the December 2022/January 2023 Digital Edition – Click here to read it.

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