A joint message from World WIZO Chairperson & World WIZO President on the coronavirus crisis


Dear Chaverot,

We are now in the grip of the greatest health crisis in our lifetimes.  The worldwide coronavirus pandemic knows no boundaries, and no one is immune. This is true for each and every one of us, woman and man, rich and poor, from every country on every continent. We are all in this together.

For many, the corona crisis has caused panic and paralysis. That is understandable, but it is not, and cannot, be the WIZO way. WIZO, here in Israel, will join hands with our proud federations around the globe, in solidarity and unity of purpose, as we always have. We shall overcome – together.

In order to control and minimize the spread of the disease, the government of Israel has decided on severe and far-reaching measures, many of which affect WIZO and the people we serve, our volunteers, and our professional staff.  Here is a short summary of how our services have been affected:

Early childhood:

Day Care Centres: All Day Care Centres in Israel, including of course WIZO’s more than 182 DCCs are closed, with the exception of 3 or 4 DCCs in hospitals. This means that some 14,000 infants and toddlers are home, including the severely deprived children in our 19 comprehensive Day Care Centers. In addition, some 4,000 employees of the DCCs are without work. Also, WIZO’s early childhood centres in Beersheva and Sderot, including child development centres for children with serious developmental problems and high risk, are closed as well.

Neve WIZO – Foster Family Center. Open and operating with 36 children, 8 adults (four pairs of foster parents) – but the children are home all day, because schools are closed.

Parent’s Hotline: Operating on an expanded emergency basis, from 9:00am to 10:00pm In addition, a special hotline for Day Care Centre employees has been established. We expect huge demand for the services of this hotline.

Youth Villages and Schools – the closings affect about 6,000 youth and hundreds of staff:

  1. Ahuzat Yeladim is open, though there are no school studies, and the staff needs to care for the kids all day. About 75 children ages 7-18.
  2. High schools: Beit Hakerem (Jerusalem) and Rehovot are closed.
  3. Youth villages: The schools in the youth villages are closed, and all of the children living in the dormitories have been sent home, with the following exceptions (note: with no children in the villages, there is a major issue of maintaining the agricultural farms):
  • Naaleh programme participants from countries around the world, a total of 310 in Hadassim, Nahalal and Nachlat Yehuda – are staying in their dormitories with support staff.
  • The foster family units, (mishpachtonim) in Hadassim and Nir HaEmek – a total of 52 children, plus foster parents and support staff.
  1. Beit Tzipora (in Kiryat Malachi & Ashkelon) is closed.

WIZO Israel – closings affect thousands of programme beneficiaries, volunteers and staff.

WIZO Israel programs and institutions are mostly shut down, with the following exceptions:

  1. Domestic Violence Projects:
  • Shelters: The two Gina Fromer Shelters for Women Victims of Domestic Violence and their Children in Jerusalem and Ashdod: these are recognised emergency institutions, and are open and operating under very difficult “pressure cooker conditions” (children are not in school, no possibility to go out to a mall or coffee shop, etc.)  At the Jerusalem shelter, a volunteer was sent to quarantine due to exposure to a patient in her neighbourhood, and now there is concern that the entire shelter staff may have been exposed. Families that require quarantine will be transferred to Beit Heuss, to protect others in the shelter. A very difficult situation.
  • Centres for the Treatment and Prevention of Domestic Violence: The Janet Burros Center in Jerusalem and the two smaller centres in Mevasseret Zion and Ramat Gan are all open and functioning, with all the requisite sanitary and distance conditions.
  • Hotline for Violent Men: working at full capacity.
  1. Legal services: Various legal services, such as women’s rights in the workplace, are being conducted by phone instead of personal meetings in clinics around the country.
  2. Second-hand clothing stores: Many of the stores are still operating under strict sanitary and distancing conditions, but sales are way down. This chain of stores is an important source of income for WIZO.
  3. Makom Balev for young women at very high risk, in Beersheva: working on an emergency basis, meaning there is someone on call in case of an acute emergency.

Special Projects:

  1. Parents’ Home (Beit Horim): With 102 residents at various levels of functional status, WIZO’s home for the elderly in Tel Aviv is open and operating, with very serious challenges related the special vulnerability of this population to the virus. It is very difficult to convince staff to come because of the relatively high risk, children and family are not allowed to visit, and more. Very difficult situation.
  2. Beit Heuss– no one is being hosted.

We are at the very beginning of a dramatic period in the history of Israel and WIZO. This is a developing crisis, and we will be updating you frequently on developments as they happen.

Together, we shall overcome this, and every obstacle

and continue doing what matters.

With wishes for a healthy and happy tomorrow,

Anita Friedman                                      Esther Mor
Chairperson, World WIZO                   President, World WIZO