WIZO UK celebrates 100 years of changing lives and building futures
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WIZO UK celebrates 100 years of changing lives and building futures

This year marks the centenary of the establishment of WIZO UK, who work to help and support vulnerable members of Israeli society.

Artist's impression of the library due for renovation at WIZO's Vocational High School, known as 'School of Dreams' based in Jerusalem
Artist's impression of the library due for renovation at WIZO's Vocational High School, known as 'School of Dreams' based in Jerusalem

2018 marks WIZOUK’s centenary. 100 years have passed since the realisation of a dream by Rebecca Sieff, Romana Goodman and Vera Weizmann, to establish an international organisation comprised of women working together as one to help and support the more vulnerable members of Israeli society.

For a century, WIZO has remained loyal to the vision and dreams of its founders. The key principles remain: to support, advance and improve the lives of every disadvantaged Israeli citizen, to help them become self-sufficient and contributing members of society, regardless of race, religion, age or economic circumstances.

WIZOUK has been celebrating its centenary with a series of events across the year, including a Centenary Bridge Lunch, attended by 116 people and raising over £20,000; a Golf Day, for which 100 people braved the rain and raised £18,000; a Centenary Lunch attended by over 300 people, including World WIZO Chairperson, Professor Rivka Lazovsky, at which Ronit Ribak-Madari became the new WIZOUK Chairperson and a Gala Dinner organised by Leeds WIZO, which raised over £30,000, at which (Judge) Robert Rinder was the guest speaker. The year’s events will culminate in WIZOUK’s glittering Gala Dinner, which is due to take place on 21st November and which will be attended by over 350 of the great and the good within the UK Jewish community.

Rebecca-Sieff

The largest independent social welfare organisation in Israel, WIZO supports over 800 projects across the country for every stage of life. These include day care centres for children, emergency centres for babies and children at risk, 100 after-school programmes and youth villages for at-risk teenagers. Among additional services is support for single parent families, foreign language groups for immigrants, shelters for victims of domestic violence and a retirement home.

The fundraising focus to mark this special centenary year is the £1.8 million required for the vital renovation and refurbishment of the WIZO Vocational High School, WIZO’s ‘School of Dreams’. Located at the Rebecca Sieff Centre for the Family in Jerusalem, the school supports teenagers in years 9-12, most of whom arrive with severe emotional and behavioural and psychiatric problems. Difficulties at home including physical or sexual abuse and mental health issues have, in the majority of instances, led to these vulnerable young people falling victim to violence and drugs.

Babies who slept in orange crates when WIZO first opened, before they could provide proper cots

With WIZO’s unique experience and passion, students are able to complete their mainstream education. The school also provides a team of dedicated psychologists, counsellors and social workers, enabling these vulnerable teenagers to become fulfilled individuals and contributing citizens.

Bat El, former student of the School of Dreams, who now runs a successful catering business

WIZO helps every student become skilled in one of three marketable trades, including music and sound production, culinary studies and hairdressing. Students also participate in weekly enrichment activities, giving them a real sense of self-worth. More than 80% of graduates go on to find gainful employment and 90% are accepted into the IDF, thereby helping to secure Israel’s future by strengthening its valuable workforce. This important school renovation and refurbishment project will enable WIZO to continue supporting vulnerable teenagers for many years to come.

Centres such as these are vital in giving disadvantaged teenagers a chance to achieve their full potential in life. And this is what WIZO is all about: changing lives, building futures and weaving hope into the fabric of Israeli society.

  •  For more information about WIZO and the ‘School of Dreams’ project, please call: 020 7319 9169 or go to: www.wizouk.org 
  • WIZO is a registered charity: 1125012