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"Creating a New Tomorrow"



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Click on the link below to see a letter from Janine Gelley and a wonderful newsletter from the International Aviv Mission which WIZO Durban member Mandy Nackan attended.
Donne Querido’s daughter-in-law Marie is quoted in the report.



Upon my arrival in Israel, I was warmly welcomed by Janine Gelley (Chairperson for the Leadership & Global Relations Division of World WIZO) who immediately whisked me off to visit the WIZO South African sponsored projects.

Our first stop was Neve WIZO, which is a long-term foster family community home consisting of 5 houses that was established in 1982. Each is home to eight children aged 4 - 18, who have been removed from their broken homes by court order due to their parents’ inability to raise them – whether it be due to drugs, abuse, poverty or mental illness. The facility is located in a quiet middle class Herzlia neighbourhood, which ensures that the children will not feel isolated from the general population and enables them to attend regular kindergartens and schools, as well as take part in all extra-mural and sports, just like any other normal children.

Married couples are employed as foster parents and provide a warm and stable environment for the children. Placed in the midst of a loving home and having supportive adults to guide them through life's milestones gives the children hope and courage to overcome past hardships and reach their full potential. The fostering couples are guided by a professional support team including a psychologist, social workers, and various therapists.

Neve WIZO is unique in that it cares for these children from childhood to adulthood and provides everything they need physically, academically, emotionally and socially to become healthy, responsible, functioning adults. The young adults who graduate from the programme are not only the pride of their foster parents and the dedicated team that raised them, they are the pride of WIZO that gave them a much needed second chance. The goal is to create a new generation of children that will break the cycle of abuse and neglect. They are encouraged to set high goals and to excel in every phase of life.

I met Yardena Nof, director of Neve WIZO and the supervisor of the out-of-home placement services, who embraced me with an affectionate hug, invited me into her home with open arms and offered me a spread of food fit for a queen. Even though there was a language barrier, I immediately sensed her love, warmth and kindness as well as her nurturing manner. Her true dedication to these children shone through like a bright light. I knew right then and there that these kids had everything they needed in order to develop and flourish.

The next project we visited was Ironi Cariera. This is a multicultural diagnostic treatment and rehabilitation centre for delinquent youth from dysfunctional homes. Situated in Tel Aviv, the centre offers these youth the opportunity to obtain their matriculation certificates. The youth are taught basic vocational skills in many fields such as hairdressing, videography and cooking. A team of professionals attends to the psychological and emotional needs of these teenagers. The centre is often the "last stop" for young people who have been expelled from all other learning institutions. The youths learn a profession and earn money by baking biscuits, cutting hair, making signage for street signs, and so on. Often they are the only breadwinners in their family. Once they graduate, they receive a certificate from the Israeli Ministry of Labour and are able to earn a living with the skills they have acquired.
I was so fortunate to be there at the same time as Bob and Thando from the Soweto Kliptown Youth (SKY), who were visiting Israel with renowned local Joburg photographer Ilan Ossendryver. SKY was Founded in 1987 by then sixteen-year-old Bob Nameng, to provide hope and services to some of the most neglected children in South Africa through formal and informal programmes to support children and teens. As a non-profit organization and one of the oldest surviving youth centres in Soweto, SKY aims to serve the mental and physical needs of the youth of Kliptown, a suburb of the former black township of Soweto in Gauteng, South Africa. Originally located at the two-roomed home of Bob’s aunt, SKY originated as an after-school program for neighbourhood children who came to the center for choir sessions. As the numbers increased, attention became focused on matters that impacted the daily lives of the children while adding drawing and reading to the program. Activities were later expanded to include performance arts, support groups, and empowerment and life skills classes for girls, in addition to sports such as soccer, basketball, and cricket to teach the children assertiveness and confidence. Through SKY’s programs and services, they have a chance to make it. The CEO of SKY Foundation has a vision of expanding SKY to other areas.
Thando was one of those children whose life was turned around by SKY.

We spent some time in the kitchen baking swan-shaped pastries with the chef and some of the children. Visiting this WIZO project with fellow South Africans, who share the same passion, dedication and commitment to their own community as the staff members and volunteers of Ironi, was even more meaningful and inspiring. Not only are they teaching the children a vocational skill, they are teaching them valuable life lessons too, so that they can be integrated back into society with a sense of worth and value.

We then rushed off to the hotel to join 29 other delegates from 16 federations for the start of a very intense and busy seminar.

We were given a brief introduction by Janine Gelley and Zohar Shalhevet (Director of the Leadership & Global Relations Division), which was followed by Tricia Schwitzer (Executive Member in charge of Special Projects for the Chairperson’s Office) who spoke about “Getting to Know WIZO”.

The first session of the day focused on female Zionist role models of the 20th Century who have made a significant contribution to the Zionist Enterprise during their lifetime. These included none other than Recha Freier, Golda Meir, Hannah Szenes and Raya Jaglom. We had to share our thoughts on who we admired the most and why we view this character as a role model. Different perspectives were shared and Sara Aaronsohn - the “Nili” Heroine - was the front runner of choice.

This was followed by the “Sharing & Caring” session which showcased the fundraising activities of the worldwide federations. Some of these phenomenal ideas or events included: Sponsor a child, Bring A Friend, Cook 2-gether, WIZO Idols for kids, Fashion show, Children’s Fashion Show, Flower arrangements, Cooking demonstrations, Oncology ward visits, Eat 4 Israel, Art exhibition and silent auction, WIZO Bar/Batmitzvahs, Mother’s Day Luncheon & Bazaar and Kosher food & wine festival to name a few!!

Prof Rivka Lazovksy (Chairperson, World WIZO) addressed us before a delicious dinner during which we continued to meet and learn more about our fellow global WIZO volunteers. The evening was then topped off with a basket weaving workshop by Sima Oren, craftswoman and mentor. Sima believes that there is a hidden artist in every person and weaving a basket is an excellent means for expressing this hidden talent. She also believes that peace and love begins with each and every one of us. As she skilfully weaved slim branches of date palms into a colourful basket, she spoke about her dream: bringing Arab and Jewish women together via weaving. She said that we need to empower each other and we can accomplish that by doing what we love together.

Monday’s visits included the Judy Mandelman Vancouver Day Care Centre (sponsored by Canadian Hadassah Wizo) where we got a feel for WIZO’s incredible work in the field of early age education. We heard a story from one mother who had to escape an abusive relationship and bring her kids to the centre. She has subsequently become one of the carers at the centre. We then spent the rest of our day at WIZO Nachlat Yehuda Youth Village (sponsored by Wizo Switzerland and WIZO USA), where we volunteered and interacted with students. Here we got a taste of life on campus, collecting eggs, visiting the agro-eco garden, having lunch with students from the fire-fighting track and the finale, watching the dance troupe perform and then joining them for some traditional Israeli folk dancing.
Each federation was individually and personally welcomed by Esther Mor, President of World Wizo.
An excellent and most useful session on how to develop your message and deliver a winning presentation by Fleur Hassan-Nahum – a presenter, barrister and fundraiser - rounded off the day. We then had the night off to recharge our batteries and mingle with our fellow WIZO Aviv’s.
Tuesday started with a powerhouse session by the fundraising division. Lots of intense conversations and exchange of ideas took place. Next stage is to go from the drawing board and put the wheels into motion.
An inspiring hour and a half was spent learning about strong women on the silver screen by film lecturer Einat Kapach. Some of these films included Yentl, Scarlett O’hara, A Whale Rider, The Iron Lady and Erin Brokovich to name a few. Most moving was the story Einat relayed about her grandmother and her immense contribution to Israeli society.
We enjoyed a fun-filled and creative workshop with renowned artist and caricaturist Hanoch Piven. We had to choose 3 objects that represent: a strength of ours, a unique connection that we have with Israel, and a quality in a contemporary female Jewish leader. Hanoch taught us how to experience this creative process, and how to enable introspection and communication through the creation of a collage with common objects. We learned how to take the scenic route, throw away our preconceived ideas and unleash our creativity. The results were a big WOW!
Full of energy we hit the street art tour guided by Ashley our photographer. This was a unique, fascinating and eye-opening experience that showed us a different side to the city that never sleeps, and that is a hub of creativity, culture and fine dining.
On Wednesday we departed for Jerusalem and our first stop was the Gina Fromer Women’s Shelter (sponsored by WIZO USA). This shelter provides victims of domestic violence with a lifeline of support they could not find elsewhere with the basic essentials for picking up their lives and starting anew. We heard from 2 social workers about how the shelter runs, as well as from 2 male psychologists who now run an emergency hot-line for abusive/abused men who can get help anonymously and without judgement.
This was followed by a visit to the WIZO Rebecca Sieff Center for the family (sponsored by WIZO UK), which boasts the largest day care centre in Israel looking after 300 toddlers and children (from 6 months up to 4 years old). The centre also runs a vocational school for teenagers at-risk with learning difficulties and behavioural problems who have dropped out of the regular formal educational frameworks, providing them with vocational training in the fields of hairdressing, cooking, music sound and production, as well as office management. After taking a tour around, we were lucky enough to meet one of the students who played the piano and sang for us! The smile on his face and the enjoyment with which he entertained us will always be fondly remembered.
After a worthwhile and necessary visit to Mt. Herzl where we listened to stories of the Women of Mt. Herzl guided by Alexandra Benjamin - a Jewish Educator and guide - we arrived in Genesis Land for an unforgettable experience. What can be more bonding and free than 30 (or so) women having camel rides, dinner, dancing and drumming in the middle of the Judean desert? Our final destination of the day was a very moving and spiritual night time visit to the Kotel.
We spent our last morning at WIZO House. We heard heart wrenching yet inspiring stories from 3 women whose lives have been positively impacted by WIZO. WIZO Gan Vanof, Wizo Haddisim and WIZO…..
Rolene Marks gave us unbelievable tools and insight on how to use our voices as WIZO ambassadors, and how to speak with conviction and confidence when defending Israel. They say dynamite comes in small packages - well, no one does public diplomacy for Israel like she does - a rising star on World WIZO’s Stage!
We finished off with the WIZO Story in a Digital Era – the power of it and how accessible it is to us!
We then spent our last lunch with the World WIZO Executive Members before we said our final goodbyes.
To sum up 5 intensive days and express how inspiring, touching and meaningful it was, is no easy task. I would like to say a huge, enormous thank you to everybody involved in WIZO South Africa for the opportunity to go to Israel for the Aviv Seminar. It opened up my eyes to an even bigger picture of WIZO and I got to see first-hand that WIZO is truly at the heart of Israeli society. All I can say at this point is that I hope that my association with WIZO will be a long and fruitful one and that I am able in my own capacity to give back to Israeli society and inspire other women to do the same.





25 - 31 May 2014: Santiago, Chile
I was thrilled to find myself the guest of Agnes Manheim, the lovely president of WIZO Chile & her wonderful dedicated team (Yael, Dalia, Vivi and many others). to attend & address the Congreso Latinamericano 2014. It will be remembered by all of the almost 400 delegates for their outstanding program & magnificent attention to detail. It was my privilege to address the congreso (a first in Spanish) alongside esteemed guests such as the legendary Dr Jorge Bucay, Dr Mikki Doron, the Israeli ambassador, psychologists, journalists, and our own President Tova Ben Dov & Chairperson Rivka Lasovski.

Although I was disappointed by how few Latinamericano presidents had the foresight to bring their young leadership to experience the congreso, I felt encouraged by their reception though and hope that they took home some of my enthusiasm home to their Aviv’s!

Personal highlights were a one night mini congreso for local Aviv’s & interested potential young members with an international panel, goody bags & a light supper; and an authentic Chilean luncheon in Valparaiso with an enthusiastic group of young & lovely Aviv’s who are reviving their WIZO group in their historic town.

A memory I will treasure forever was the private performance for our congress by the Chilean Phil-harmonic Orchestra, accompanied by 2 of the country’s finest tenors & a soprano. But that was not all! Also performing on the evening for us were other international artists. What a privilege to be part of WIZO!

I will especially remember the hospitality of the wonderful WIZO Chilean ladies!

4 - 6 June: London, England
Wonderful time spent brainstorming & collaborating in the WIZO UK office with Ronit, Lauren & the team. Such professionalism and generosity is a great trait of our WIZO family.


9 -10 June: Athens. Greece
Heather Nahmias, president WIZO Greece took the shortage of young interest in WIZO very seri-ously & decided to bring me to Athens to ‘ignite’ & inspire local ladies.

I had two opportunities to speak to different groups of young Jewish ladies who were mostly not involved in WIZO until these events. Both were warm gatherings in lovely homes & on both occa-sions the enthusiastic, energetic ladies immediately began to plan WIZO events for the near future. I am VERY proud to share the success of these evenings.

11 - 12 June: Vienna, Austria
The creative & energetic Daphna Frucht & her team designed an intriguing ‘Secret Event’ in a stylish new restaurant/bar in a contemporary area of Vienna. The young ladies who attended were treated to an adventure in WIZO complete with cocktails, designer food & a Brainstorm session with the opportunity to select the Young WIZO event they would like to make happen! The stylish event is surely still the talk around town!

Every opportunity to visit an Aviv group expands my overview of our wonderful warm international WIZO family. it creates new stories for me to share between our groups that link us by understanding that our hopes, challenges & motivation no matter where are mostly the same. 


Meeting of Representatives (MOR) 2014

Laurienne Baitz was reelected as Aviv Representative to the World WIZO Executive for a further term of 2 years. She returned to Israel in January 2014 with Tamar Lazarus and representatives from 30 countries around the world to attend the annual WIZO MOR (Meeting of Representatives) a 5-day plenary conference in Tel Aviv, Israel. WIZO also ran its 1st Leadership Empowerment Seminar concurrent with the MOR. Federation Presidents were encouraged to bring their young leadership to attend and benefit.

Laurienne addressed both the Leadership Seminar and the MOR on WIZO Aviv and presented ideas & projections for the future improvement of WIZO.

The conference was dedicated to brainstorming new ideas on the issues of Membership, Leadership & Connectivity.

‘As part of the conference, we visited the Knesset where delegates met with the Knesset Speaker MK Yuli Edelstein. We participated in an enlightening debate on Gender issues with representatives of the Knesset chaired by MK Aliza Lavie, chairwoman of the Committee on the Status of Women.

‘The highlight for a select few, myself included, was a private audience with Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu! He thanked WIZO leaders for all they are doing for the betterment of Israeli society.’

Laurienne says that only through the influence and reach of WIZO would she ever have had the opportunity to meet the Prime Minister face to face. What an honour!


Laurienne Baitz has been an active WIZO member for 17 years and currently co-chairs WIZO Durban with Colleen Mervis & Michelle Nathan as well as the Durban Chaya Aviv group. Together they form ‘The Durban WIZO Trio’ and are a dynamic force to be reckoned with!
She was elected International Aviv Representative to the World WIZO Executive at the 25th World WIZO EGM 2012.
Laurienne takes her position very seriously, acting on the understanding that the Aviv’s are the future of World WIZO and have a responsibility to connect, contemporize and refresh the WIZO Brand.
Her motto for her term is: ‘UNITE & IGNITE’ the WIZO Aviv’s worldwide!

L to R: Colleen Mervis, Tamar Lazarus (President WIZO South Africa), Michelle Nathan and Laurienne Baitz



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Laurienne Baitz's European Turbo Tour

Laurienne Baitz speaks to WIZO Avivs across Europe

Laurienne Baitz, Aviv Representative to the World WIZO Executive, recently did a 'Turbo-Tour' to some of the European WIZO Federations to meet with groups of Avivs and motivate them. She visited five countries where she spoke to seven different groups explaining the function of WIZO and the importance of the Avivs.

 In 1957, during a mission to Latin America, Mrs. Faye Grove-Pollak, then Head of the World WIZO Department of Organization and Education, realized that the "generation gap" often prevented young women from joining their mothers and grandmothers as WIZO members. This situation required a solution.

With this in mind, Mrs. Grove-Pollak founded a group of young women who were to be a continuing generation and a source of future leadership, called "Aviv" - Spring. As she traveled from one country to another, on this mission and others, she continued forming Aviv groups. Later, other Federations established Aviv groups at her suggestion.

Today Aviv groups work in concert within local Federations in addition to functioning independently in the areas of organization and education and in initiating their own fundraising events.