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The Women's International Zionist Organization (WIZO; Hebrew: ויצו, Vitzo‎), is a non-political volunteer organization dedicated to social welfare in all sectors of Israeli society, the advancement of the status of women, and Jewish education in Israel and the Diaspora.



WIZO was founded in England in 1920 by Rebecca Sieff, Dr. Vera Weizmann (wife of Israel's first president, Dr. Chaim Weizmann), Edith Eder, Romana Goodman and Henrietta Irwell to provide community services for the residents of Mandate Palestine.

WIZO branches opened across Europe but many were closed down in the wake of Nazi occupation and the Holocaust. Branches in Latin America continued to operate during the war.

In 1949, after the establishment of the State of Israel, WIZO moved its headquarters to Israel and Sieff became president of the world WIZO organization. In 1966, she was replaced by Rosa Ginossar. Other past presidents include Raya Jaglom and Michal Modai.

Among WIZO's early social welfare projects in Mandatory Palestine were the establishment of Tipat Halav well-baby clinics and clothing distribution centers, many still in operation today.[1] WIZO opened the country's first day care center in Tel Aviv in 1926.

In 2008, WIZO, together with two other Women's organizations, received the Israel Prize for its lifetime achievements and special contribution to society and the State of Israel.[2][3]

Political activity in Israel

WIZO formed a party and ran for Knesset in Israel's first elections in 1949, receiving 1.2% of the vote. It won one seat and was represented by Rachel Cohen-Kagan, chairwoman of WIZO at the time. Cohen-Kagan later ran in the fifth Knesset as a member of the Liberal Party (though she was a member of the group that broke away to form the Independent Liberals).


Today, WIZO runs 170 day care centers in Israel, caring for 14,000 children of working mothers, new immigrants and needy families. The organization also runs summer camps, courses for single-parent families and therapeutic frameworks for children removed from their homes by court order.[4]

WIZO is now the largest women's Zionist organization in the world. In 2008, 36 member countries sent delegates to Israel to celebrate the organization's 88th birthday. [5]

The current World WIZO president is Helena Glaser.[6]

See also


External links



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