“Thank you WIZO” from kibbutz Kfar Aza residents

 The excitement at Kibbutz Kfar Aza, in the South of Israel, was unmistakable.

Four months after the end of 
Operation Protective Edge,

residents organized 
a special evening to show their personal appreciation 

for the help offered during the hostilities.

Tova Ben-Dov, President of World WIZO; Prof. Rivka Lazovsky, Chairperson of the World WIZO Executive, and Esti Cohen and Motti Natanel, directors of WIZO Nir Ha’emek Youth Village, took part in a candle-lighting ceremony on the 8th day of Hannukah. They met with local residents and were warmly received and thanked by all the families. Also present were Eli Aflalo, Co-Chairman of the Keren Kayemet (JNF), which also provided extensive help to residents of the kibbutz during Operation Protective Edge; and former MK Shai Hermesh, who serves as Chairman of the Israeli branch of the World Jewish Congress and is himself a member of Kibbutz Kfar Aza.  
The WIZO delegation was warmly received and offered a tour of the well-kept kibbutz, with children carrying torches and singing Hannukah songs. All the members, together with soldiers serving at the kibbutz, filled the communal dining room for the candle-lighting ceremony, wishing to express their appreciation for the support they received.
From the very start of Operation Protective Edge and throughout the hostilities, WIZO youth villages in the central and northern regions hosted residents of towns, moshavim and kibbutzim situated in the south, dangerously close to Gaza. Psychological and emotional counseling was also available, along with a wide range of family activities and programs designed to fulfill all needs.
Those who spent time at WIZO Nir Ha’emek Youth Village have not forgotten how they were welcomed and made to feel at home for as long as they needed. At a small, intimate event, they thanked Tova Ben-Dov and Prof. Rivka Lazovsky warmly for being the first to offer help and open the doors of the youth villages, asking nothing in return: “From the outset we realized we would have to leave our area. We were lost, didn’t know where to go or who to turn to. We very much wanted to stay together as families and hoped we would be able to maintain the children’s routine without splitting them up. WIZO was the first to hold out a helping hand – before government ministries or anyone else. They contacted the head of our local council and suggested we should come and stay at their youth villages. They saved many families and we are truly grateful to the organization both here in Israel and in other countries, for obtaining the resources needed to offer us a safe haven for as long as possible."
The caring staff of WIZO Nir Ha’emek Youth Village were also warmly thanked for their homely hospitality and ensuring that the temporary visitors felt welcome.
Tova Ben-Dov, President of World WIZO, assured them that: “It was our privilege to be able to support you at such a trying time. From now on we are like one big family. I want you to know that WIZO will always be ready to offer help. We will also soon be able to offer you our new “Hosen” program, aimed at helping children and young people deal with the traumas of war.”
PRivka Lazovsky, Chairperson of the World WIZO Executive, stated that: “This is our mission. It is we who should thank you, and not the other way around. You live your lives heroically on the front line, continuing to build and develop the country. You are true heroes. We at WIZO will continue to support you and do everything in our power to empower Israeli society. Our prayers will always be with you.”

 WIZO, the Women's International Zionist Organization, is a non-party international movement dedicated to the advancement of the status of women, welfare of all sectors of Israeli society and encouragement of Jewish education in Israel and the Diaspora.
 WIZO is an international movement of Zionist women, founded in England in 1920. Today, there are over a quarter of a million volunteers in 50 Federations throughout the world, working actively for the welfare of the citizens of Israel and providing help and support in the operation of hundreds of education and welfare projects and services.