Established in Great Britain in 1920, the Women’s International Zionist Organization (WIZO) is a nonprofit organization of members in over 50 countries working together to improve the lives of women, children and the elderly living in Israel. Next to the Israeli government, WIZO is the largest provider of social welfare services in the country.
As a powerful voice for all Jewish women, in 1959 WIZO was recognized by the United Nations as a non-governmental organization (NGO) and was the first Zionist organization granted consultative status at the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and the United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF).
WIZO operates over 800 social welfare projects including child care centers, schools, shelters for battered women, homes for girls in distress and programs providing services for the elderly. As a non-political international movement, WIZO is dedicated to the advancement of the status of women, the betterment of family and community welfare and the encouragement of Jewish education around the world. At every age, WIZO nourishes the body, comforts the soul, educates the mind and empowers the individual.
WIZO Los Angeles, established in 1985, is a membership organization whose primary focus is working to support and fund its WIZO projects in Israel.
WIZO USA Review is World WIZO USA’s only printed publication and is distributed to all the federations around the world. The magazine spotlights all of WIZO USA’s major activities both in Israel and abroad, highlights personalities and provides practical working aids and ideas for members.
WIZO USA Changes Lives
Thousands of women, children, youth, and families have benefited from WIZO USA’s various programs, schools, and legal advice. Every one of them is special to us and their success is our success. Here are some of their stories.
“I hated leaving my family, they had nothing. I understand now that to help them, I need to succeed. That is what I’m going to do.”
For some, the Youth Village is their first taste of a normal life in safe surroundings.
Yaffa, the house-mother at WIZO Hadassim Youth Village recalls meeting Vadim when he first came at the age of 12, especially his “wild hair and sad eyes.” “But,” she says, “nothing prepared me for the shock of our first home visit and seeing the place he had called home.” The tiny one-room apartment, off a back alley in a commercial district, accommodated two parents and five children. Dark and bare of any nutritious food, “It was completely chaotic.”
Vadim had great trouble adjusting to life in WIZO Hadassim. He suffered from overpowering guilt: his constant companion was a suitcase in which he hoarded anything he could find, including food, to bring home to his family. It took a long time before he felt worthy of the life WIZO provided for him at the village. Clean, orderly, loved and safe for the first time, Vadim did not know how to react to it all. His behavior was exactly like that of a refugee, withdrawn, sad, few verbal skills, unable to focus at school or to trust anyone at all.
Now, four years later, Vadim is a different person. With the help of intensive tutoring with his studies, Vadim has many academic accomplishments to his credit in which he takes pride. He no longer hoards and is very well adjusted.
“This place gave me stability… it’s a place where you don’t feel threatened. I learned that I am responsible for my own life.”
WIZO’s therapeutic daycare centers provide the physical, emotional and therapeutic support that each child and their family need to overcome their challenges.
Thanks to the loving support that Rina and her mother received at the Multipurpose Day Care Center, Rina is no longer consumed with grief but is being transformed into a happy loving little girl.
Rina is one of 8 children in an Ethiopian family. She came to the DCC a year ago, after her mother abandoned her family due to being violently abused by Rina’s father who was subsequently incarcerated. The grandparents care for the younger children and the 5 older children have been placed in foster care.
From the first day, Rina stood out from the other children. She never smiled or laughed and always looked sad. Rina, who was at the time only 3 years old was diagnosed with severe grief. She began meeting with the psychologist weekly to help her overcome the loss of her mother and deal with the family violence. Slowly, Rina began to improve and participate in activities with the other children. Rina’s mother recently contacted the welfare authorities and requested to see her child. Counseling for both the mother and Rina is provided by the psychologist and social worker and the slow process of rebuilding their relationship and overcoming the violence has begun.
“I came to the WIZO shelter afraid for my life. But now, I feel like I was born anew. WIZO protected me and my daughters and I left stronger than ever”
WIZO’s battered women’s shelters give women a clean break from the violence and a fresh start at a better life.
Ranit, from a wealthy suburb of Tel Aviv never thought she would find herself in a battered women’s shelter. As her home life deteriorated rapidly, it became clear that her life was in danger. In one swift movement, she and her daughters were clandestinely taken to a shelter for battered women and their children. Here, she began to rebuild. WIZO counselors and staff helped her and her daughters to feel safe and secure, while Ranit prepared for an independent and self-sufficient life. “I came to the WIZO shelter afraid for my life. But now, I feel like I was born anew. WIZO protected me and my daughters and I left stronger than ever.”
Ranit has since written a book on domestic violence and shelters to help other families and children to understand and deal with the issue. She and her children are safe and violence-free thanks to WIZO.
“WIZO is a huge part of my life. It gave me the opportunity to change peoples lives. I learned that I could achieve my dream.”
Thousands of teens find a loving home in WIZO’s youth villages and are given an opportunity to succeed and realize their potential.
“WIZO is home, It’s a safe place, It’s family, It’s the people who nurtured you and raised you …”
“I was abused by my father and ignored by my mother, but l found a family and a future with WIZO.”
“Never did I imagine that I’d actually be singing and performing or that I’d serve on the Students Council to give back to my friends and the youth village. I never thought I had that in me.”
WIZO’s youth villages take in youth who are lost and on the path to destruction. With love and support, they turn their lives around.
Opinionated, pretty, bright and resourceful, Maritu sought to escape a dead-end life in Beit She’an. Arriving at WIZO Nachlat Yehudah in the 7th grade, she recalls, “I was really out of control, wreaking havoc. I made my counselors’ lives miserable.”
Five years later, Maritu is the model of a conscientious citizen and a social leader – serving on the school’s Students Council and active in the performing arts troupe. She even coordinates volunteer activities which involve Youth Village peers in the community – helping seniors, the homeless or children of foreign workers.
Looking ahead to her service in the IDF with the hope of becoming an officer, Maritu seeks to serve as a role model for the Ethiopian community and for kids who seek to break away from a dead end.
“I had no one and nowhere to go. I put my girls in WIZO Day Care– the only place I could trust. They offered me food, clothing, anything I needed. They taught me to be a parent. I’m not the only story here. There are so many parents here that have their children cared for by WIZO.”
WIZO Day Care provides children with everything they need in enabling their mothers to work to support them.
At age 11, Adi’s mother sent her off to boarding school saying that she was a troublemaker. At 17, she met a man who offered her a home and love. He was 43. After their first daughter was born, he began to physically abuse her. The money she made cleaning houses, he used for drugs.
With no support and no money, Adi had few options to care for her two daughters when she finally left him. Adi sent the girls to WIZO’s daycare center. Here, her daughters were safe, cared for, received three hot meals a day. Knowing her children had the basics they needed and the love and care they deserved, Adi could focus on rebuilding her life.
“I’d recommend life in WIZO Nahalal to anyone whose home situation is not so good, whose family situation is hard and he’s looking for a way out. At WIZO Nahalal you’re given a framework with values.”
National Board Members
Chair, WIZO LA
Honorary Chair, WIZO LA
Honorary Chair, WIZO LA
Honorary Chair, WIZO LA
Honorary Chair, WIZO LA
Los Angeles Board Members
Dianna Mannheim Sternberg
Nora Schwartz Orner
CHANGE A LIFE TODAY
WIZO USA, The Women’s International Zionist Organization, is a worldwide non-profit organization that operates over 800 social welfare projects in Israel.
How may we help you?
Build your connection to Jewish women across the world and together improve the lives of millions in Israel. WIZO USA was founded over 90 years ago by women with the shared goal of supporting Israel. Today, vibrant, talented women like you continue to support Israel’s women and children and express their Jewish values in ways that are most meaningful to them.
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