HISTORY OF THE WOMEN’S ZIONIST ORGANISATION OF SOUTH AFRICA
From its inception in 1897, the Zionist movement in South Africa had the support of independent groups of Jewish women around South Africa.
In 1920, WIZO (www.wizo.org) was established in the United Kingdom, The need for social services for women, youth and children in Palestine was a cause that appealed to South African women but at the time there was no representative body in South Africa to which WIZO could appeal.
In 1934, Vera Weitzman visited South Africa, she was determined to establish a branch in South Africa. After some opposition, WIZO (South Africa) was formed with Dr. Hedwig Reinhold as chairwoman.
The South African Zionist organizations of the time were male dominated and opposed to having a WIZO branch in South Africa. In answer to this the women formed the South African Zionist council- women’s Zionist Organization (WZO) of South Africa. The WZO was an affiliate of World WIZO, received all the benefits of the WIZO federation, abided by WIZO’s constitution, and continued with other aspects of Zionist work in which they were involved. This is a privilege that is still enjoyed today.
In 1998 WZO of South Africa changed its name to WIZO South Africa.
The WIZO South Africa President attends all WIZO’s annual Meeting Of Representatives and a delegation attends the Enlarged General Meeting held every four years and is also invited to attend the Va’ad HaPoel, and the Jewish Agency assembly.
WIZO is a non-party international movement dedicated to the advancement and empowerment of women in all spheres of society in Israel. It encourages Jewish education in Israel and the Diaspora. With 250 000 members in over 50 countries dedicated to improving the lives of women and children, youth and adults in Israel regardless of race, nationality or religion. WIZO’S guiding principle is to help the vulnerable achieve a better life through training and social welfare services.
With over 800 educational and social welfare projects in Israel, WIZO assists more than 52 000 infants and children.
WIZO is recognized by the UNITED NATIONS as an NGO with consultative status on ECOSOC and UNICEF and is a member of the executive of the World Jewish Congress.
In 1957, the first WIZO South African Sponsored project was built. This project was the Mothercraft Training Centre in Tel Aviv. It cared for premature babies and trained pediatric nurses. In 1982 the centre was closed and NEVE WIZO cottage scheme project in Herzlia took over the care of the children in need.
As the need for WIZO's social services increased, locally-based WIZO projects in Israel focused on children’s Day Care Centres (DCC) and Youth programs. Its efforts have saved thousands of lives and children have been educated, housed and loved in a place of safety.
Through funds raised through Membership, Campaign and Fundraising, WIZO SA supports the following projects:
Neve WIZO, Ichpat, 5 WIZO Day Care Centres, Beit Halochem, Neveh Amiel Youth Aliyah Village and JNF special project.
WIZO SA Presidents
Dr Hedwig Reinhold: 1932-1933
Jenny Greenberg: 1933-1941
Dr Deborah Sagorsky: 1941-1947
Anna Franks: 1947-1952
Sadie Fredman: 1952-1954
Inez Bernstein: 1954-1959
Gertrude Kark: 1959-1961
Mary Adler: 1961-1965
Ray Katz: 1965-1968
Jeanette Davidoff: 1968-1973
Muriel Maisels: 1973-1977
Rachiel Rapoport: 1977-1981
Ethel Balkind: 1981-1984
Sylvia Berzack: 1984-1987
Fay Weinstein: 1987-1990
Marcia Parness: 1990-1993
Annette Price: 1993-1996
Mushe Kirsh: 1996-2000
Cynthia Batten: 2000-2003
Lee Joffe: 2003-2006
Lorraine Rosmarin: 2006-2009
Yvonne Jawitz: 2009-2012
Tamar Lazarus: 2012 – present