The development of the Jewish community of Brazil was very intense during the period between the two World Wars, and it was at this time that WIZO Brazil was founded in 1926. The program of the organization consisted of enlightening Jewish women in the Jewish traditions, in stimulating the education of the children by sending them to local Jewish schools, and supporting the newly founded World WIZO in its struggle to improve conditions for women and children in Eretz Israel.
In 1946, the first Convention of the Sao Paulo Center took place, directed by Dr. Raquel Klompus from Palestine. Delegates from all other centers in the country also came to draw up plans for future work. On this occasion, the unified WIZO Federation of Brazil was created and began to function in two separate sectors: the departments of Organization, Culture and Finance were in Rio de Janiero, while campaign work and the printing of the “Corrente” magazine were in Sao Paulo. This magazine is the most important link between WIZO chaverot throughout this huge country (approximately the size of the European continent), especially for those living far away from the big cities.
The creation of the State of Israel brought new enthusiasm and the impulse to work. In 1951 a large group of chaverot from WIZO Brazil took part in the 12th World WIZO Conference, the first to be held in Israel. As a result of the visit, the Federation decided to sponsor the Maya Rosenberg Secondary Vocational School in Rehovot. Cultural activity also intensified. Seminars, History and Bible lessons, Hebrew language courses, and quizzes on various subjects have taken place. Exhibitions of Israeli artists and even fashion shows were periodically organized to offer the Brazilian public some direct contact with Israeli reality. Special emphasis was given to the World WIZO Bible Day, which had very great success throughout Brazil. A Tourist Department to stimulate trips to Israel was created. They make every effort to take advantage of the Seminars organized by World WIZO in Israel, which they find both important and profitable, helping especially in grooming new leaders and in keeping alive the link between the Brazilian community and Israel.
Organization and Membership Recruitment
a) WIZO-Rio Lapid establish new Aviv Group for the Chapter
WIZO-Rio’s Ramat Aviv group programmed a special meeting headed by their daughters, daughters-in-
law and friends of corresponding age-range so that skilled leaders of our organization were able to
elaborate on their own personal experience at WIZO. Since this first gathering, subsequent meetings
have taken place, always involving the invitation of guest speakers who deal with subjects appealing to
these young ladies. The majority of the members of this group are young converted women who have
proven to be willing to acquire Jewish Culture. At their own initiative, these ladies have taken a Jewish
History Course sponsored by WIZO-Rio.
b) Effectiveness of Aviv Group formation method in WIZO Rio Grande do Sul Chapter
Starting from a preliminary project in the Chapter’s Organizational Department, young Jewish women
are invited for a meeting where contemporary and relevant subjects are discussed. At such events,
the young ladies are motivated towards WIZO volunteer work. A “god-mother” (counselor) supervises
the new group’s development. The Chapter provides tutoring courses for the counselors organized by
their Organization Department, which oversees the entire process. As a result, over 10 new Aviv
groups were formed within a period of three years. This initiative has the full support of the Chapter’s
WIZO’s educational function is the most cherished one. Every year we carry out national, regional and local seminars where the matters discussed are directly related to Judaism, Zionism, anti-Semitism and WIZO’s work.
One event worth mentioning is the WIZO-Day – WIZO Family Day – produced by WIZO Rio Grande do Sul Chapter. This event, in spite of being a festive day, became an excellent source of educational programming. In 2003, the challenge for the chaverot was to participate in a quiz about WIZO facts. In addition to revealing their knowledge of WIZO history and organization, the chaverot had to show their comprehension of our movement’s attributes. To demonstrate the extent of this contest’s creativity, its final stage required a written work entitled – “If I were Rebecca Sieff today”.
Notwithstanding the traditional events such as art auctions, tourism, bazaars, happy hours, a new segment that has been really increasing is ‘gift producing’ for various Jewish festivities: Rosh Hashanah, Pessach and Chanukah. The various groups from North to Southern Brazil sponsor this fundraising approach. The packets are comprised of flower arrangements, chocolate boxes, ornamental candles, kits containing Challot, wine, a sevivon, etc.
WIZO Sao Paulo’s “Teen & Kids” fashion show was very proficient in its creativity. Famous fashion designers, renowned nationwide, had their creations exhibited by Brazilian society celebrities’ children. This event was an overwhelming success.
Publicity and Hasbarah
WIZO Brazil has been working in partnership with local philanthropic institutions from the society at
large, enabling WIZO’s image to be bound to the media and at the same time accredited by the local
public authorities. We render assistance to children’s hospitals, children and elderly shelters, and to
social welfare projects.
WIZO Rio and WIZO Sao Paulo Chapters organize and sponsor an annual contest designed for State
School network students’, permanently relating the topics to Jewish history and Israeli reality, oriented
to convey our true image to the young Brazilian generation.
We indeed make the best use of every communication source available to reach our members and their
families: by selecting newspapers & periodical articles, which explain facts with reference to the Middle
East and, by rendering an educational approach to these topics.
The highlight of our agenda in 2003 was our 18th National Kinus, at which the Federation had the honor
of welcoming Mrs. Michal, Modai, then President of World WIZO, and Prof. Manuel Tenenbaum, the
Director of the Latin-American Jewish Congress. Their speeches, with their gifted ideas, inspired many