It was an absolute privilege to have the opportunity to travel to Israel with my daughter Ora and her best friend Noa for a special mother-daughter trip to celebrate their upcoming bat mitzvahs.

The girls were inspired by so many of their experiences in Israel, the highlight being part of the 50th year celebrations in Jerusalem over Yom Yerushalayim.

In South Africa it is common for bat mitzvah girls to take upon themselves a chesed project.
Our girls decided they wanted to do something for children and having been exposed to the incredible work that WIZO is involved in, we thought it would be a wonderful opportunity to take them to a day care centre in Israel.

The visit was extremely meaningful and our girls were able to tour the centre and interact with the teachers and the children. They were surprised to see that both Jewish and Muslim teachers worked side by side and that children of all colours and religions are accepted, loved and cared for. The staff were warm and welcoming and take great pride in their work. It gave us a great sense of pride to see the placards showcasing the South African donors who have generously contributed towards the upgrades in the day-care centre and continue to support WIZO Programmes.

Working in an environment where I am constantly dealing with negative perceptions on Israel, often hearing Israel being compared to “Apartheid”, I stood in this WIZO centre feeling angry that the world is not exposed to the truth – that Israelis, Muslims, Jews and Christians live side by side and deal with the same common issues that most societies are exposed to- poverty, abuse, broken families. WIZO centres all over Israel assist both children and their parents, no matter what their race or religion and play an important role in the upliftment of their surrounding communities.

Israel is truly a rainbow nation, a democracy - just like South Africa and I was grateful that I could showcase this to my daughter –the next generation of powerful Jewish woman who will continue our legacy of chesed, tzedokka and tikkun olam. I look forward to launching this fundraising project with Ora and hopefully making a small contribution to this special place that made an imprint on our hearts.

Thank you to the WIZO team both in South Africa and Israel for your tireless work in supporting and running these centres and for allowing us to share in your success.

Nicci Raz

National Director SA Zionist Federation 

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