1920-1930 The Early Days
Tipat Halav (‘A Drop of Milk’) Baby Welfare Clinics Chaim Weizman at WIZO Nahalal Agricultural School

WIZO was founded in Great Britain in 1920. The founders of WIZO, Rebecca Sieff, Dr. Vera Weizmann, Edith Eder, Romana Goodman and Henrietta Irwell, formed WIZO with the goal of serving the needs of women and children in the Land of Israel (Eretz Israel).Under the guidance of Rebecca Sieff, three of the leaders visited Palestine and held discussions with a great number of women engaged in pioneering work in Palestine. They returned to London in 1919 with far sighted reports on the urgent necessities of the women and children in Palestine.

1930-1939 Aliya, Hitler and Turmoil

The background for the second decade of WIZO’s history was marked by the 5th wave of aliya (immigration) from Eastern and Central Europe, the rise of Hitler in Germany and Jewish-Arab conflict in Eretz Israel. In This years WIZO members witnessed the annihilation of Jewish communities in Europe and the dissolution of WIZO Federations in countries under the Nazi scourge. This was also the era when Jews ,who did not come on aliya and moved from Eastern and Central Europe to Latin America, created 19 new Latin American WIZO Federations.

1940-1949 World War 2, the Holocaust and the State of Israel
WIZO's Women center WIZO Day Care Centre

These years witnessed the annihilation of one WIZO Federation after another, 102 WIZO groups in Poland, 23 WIZO groups in Bulgaria, 69 WIZO groups in Transylvania. World WIZO, which had ll0,000 members before the war, now has 55,000 members.In 1947, the United Nations resolves to partition the former British mandate over Palestine, setting up a Jewish and an Arab state. In 1949, following the establishment of the State of Israel, the WIZO Head Office was transferred from London to Israel and Rebecca Sieff was elected 1st President of the World WIZO.

1950-1959 Ingathering of the Exiles,  Building up the State

These were the first years of the State of Israel. The Law of Return was passed giving every Jew the right to return to the Jewish homeland. Hundreds of thousands of new immigrants arrived in the fledgling state. WIZO worked with the new immigrants, hosting families, providing educational and welfare services. The Equal Rights for Women law was passed, and the first WIZO advice bureau opened. WIZO Aviv groups were formed for the first time. WIZO was recognized as a non governmental organization, NGO, and given consultative status with ECOSOC.


1960-1969 Eichmann, The Six Day War, Golda Meir

The country continued to develop. A new city, Arad,  was built in the the Negev During this period WIZO provided hundreds of women with work in the work shops set up by the Department of Home Industry. WIZO was also given seat in the Executive, and voting rights, at the 26th World Jewish Congress. The Six Day War broke out, and WIZO assisted the war effort. After the war WIZO replied positively to a  request from the Mayor of United Jerusalem, Teddy Kollek, and builds new Day Care Centers, initiated by Raya Jaglom, throughout the capital.


1970-1979 Yom Kippur War, Soviet Aliya and Peace with Egypt

This was a period of airplane hijackings and terrorist activities against Israel, 11 Israeli athletes were massacred by Palestinian terrorists at the Munich Olympics, as the world looked on in shock. On Yom Kippur,1973, Egyptian and Syrian armies attacked Israeli positions in Suez and the Golan Heights. Thousands of soldiers were killed. The UN equaled Zionism to racism. President Sadat of Egypt visited Israel, the first Arab Head of State to make an official visit. He and Prime Minister Begin were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.


1980-1989 Jerusalem, Lebanon War, Ethiopian Jews Aliya

There were waves of immigration from Ethiopia and the Soviet Union during this period. WIZO trained volunteers to help with the absorption of the new immigrants. The whole country was hit by rampant inflation which was brought under control in 1985. Israel attacked and destroyed the Iraqi nuclear reactor.  And the first intefada began. WIZO federations began to operate in New York and Miami. Neve WIZO, 4 special foster family homes, opened in Herzliya and the first WIZO shelter for battered women was opened.

1990-1999 USSR Falls,  Oslo Accords and Assassination of Prime Minister
Yitzhak Rabin

The Berlin wall fell and the Soviet Union collapsed leading to the establishments of new republics in Eastern Europe.  The Gulf War broke out following an Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, and SCUD missiles fell in  Israel. A secret airlift, Operation Solomon, brought 8,000 Ethiopian Jews to Israel and there was a mass immigration of Jews from the Former Soviet Union. The Oslo accords were signed and an air of hope pervaded the country. In 1995 Prime Minister Rabin was assassinated by a Jewish extremist after speaking at a Peace Rally.

2000- 2nd Intifada, 9/ll, Iraq and Disengagement

A second intefada irrupted with suicide bombings, buses being blown up, civilians, including children and babies, became victims of Arab terror attacks. A new form of anti Semitism appeared in Europe leading President George Bush to declare a War against Terror. Terror attacks continued in Israel and in 2003 Kassam rockets were launched against the Negev town of Sderot. Israeli evacuated Jewish settlements in Gaza. Gilad Shalit was kidnapped across the Gaza border and the second Lebanon War broke out after two soldiers were kidnapped from the northern border.