It is now one year
since I became president of international council of Jewish Women and since
each of you accepted your current responsibility
as a member of ICJW
Executive. I thank you all for the work you have contributed to our
organisation during the year.
I believe it is important
to assess our work in the first quarter of this quadrennium, to reaffirm our
priorities and perhaps to consider broadening our
platform. As this meeting
progresses we will have the opportunity to discuss our ideas.
A quick word about my Organisational workplace : The ICJW office in
Sydney is functioning well, with much credit to our office secretary Dee Hart
Liane Froneman who has developed the regular ICJW News Sheet to a high
standard as an information vehicle. Dee will continue
in her role, while Liane
will hand the NS over to Dee and concentrate on other work such as the ICJW
Newsletter, which we hope to print and distribute
around Rosh Hashana.
I also thank headquarters
treasurer Adrienne Swarts for her regular attention to ICJW financial
matters in our office.
ICJW Treasurer Joan
Goldberg is consistently in touch with me and we work closely on many questions
and issues pertaining to the organisation.
now a synopsis of my activities as President in the past six months.
After the ICJW Executive
meeting in New York in November 2014 I visited our Canadian affiliate National
Council of Jewish Women of Canada , travelling
to both Toronto and
Vancouver Sections. On both visits I was accompanied by NCJWC President Sharon
The Toronto Section held a
special reception at its premises at which I met with local members and with
Canadian politicians Canadian MP Mark Adler, and
MPP Monte Kwinter
representing Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne. Also attending were DJ
Schneeweiss the Israel Consul General, Michael Mostyn,
CEO Bnai Brith Canada
and Alex Stein the cantor of a Toronto synagogue.
The Vancouver Section was celebrating its 90th
anniversary at a daytime community event in the bright modern premises of the
Van Dusen Botanical Gardens.More than one
hundred guests attended the function where a number of stalls showcased the
ongoing projects and programs supported by NCJW Vancouver Section.
During each visit I was
very pleased to meet many members of NCJW Canada .Our global organisation
depends on the well-being and proactive capabilities of affiliates such as
NCJWC to carry our name to their communities and to continue to energise
International Council of Jewish Women.
In March this year I attended the Commission on
the Status of Women forum in New York. There were fourteen representatives from
ICJW attending CSW, most of them members of ICJW Executive. For both Penelope
Conway, Status of Women Chair and myself it was our first time at this huge NGO
gathering of global women, rounding out our earlier experience of attending the
regional forum in Geneva UN last November. Over a two week period in various
venues close to the UN building there were more than four hundred side
events, with up to ten running simultaneously.
Our first engagement was the International Women's Day
Celebration March and Opening Ceremony at Times Square on Sunday March 8.
The new slogan
leading us towards the next fifteen years was
introduced: Planet 50-50 by 2030: Step It Up for Gender Equality.As ICJW
President I was invited to CSW Opening Session in the UN General Assembly where
several speakers included the UN Secretary General Ban Ki- Moon, Sam Kutesa
President of the General Assembly and the current President of the Security
Council. The Draft Political Declaration on the 20th anniversary of the Beijing
Declaration and Platform for Action was accepted.
The Time is Now: Feminists working with Civil Society
was the session organised by ICJW UN NGO representatives Fran Butensky and Joan
Lurie Goldberg, jointly with Council of Organisations and Academia Mexicana de
Derecho Internacional. The panel emphasised that grass roots feminists working
with civil society will help advance women in the post 2015 world.
Education – the Power behind Empowering Women was the Israel side event jointly
hosted by UN Women and UN Habitat, with opening remarks by Israel Ambassador
David Roet and Secretary General of the Knesset, Ms Yardena
Meller-Horovitz. A useful booklet distributed at the event , ‘The Status
of Women in Israel – Beijing+20 is available in the ICJW office.
Attending CSW 59 was a broadening and educational
experience. It was inspiring to be among so many groups of women from a
multitude of countries, all seeking greater equality for women and children,
all working at major issues of importance in women’s lives today. It was
upsetting that at the end of a fortnight of apparent camaraderie and goodwill
amongst women the Commission adopted a political resolution, the Palestinian
statement against Israel and its 'occupation’.
En route to the Commission on the Status of
Women in New York, I visited ICJW's newest affiliate , the Mexican Jewish
For my two day visit to Mexico I was hosted by VJM
President Sonia Rusansky and conducted around Jewish Mexican organisations by
Past President Lilian Grinberg. It was a very full but satisfying program and
formed a most informative introduction to the Mexican Jewish community. I was
fascinated by the history of Jewry in Mexico and had introductions to and
meetings with several of the community leaders as well as visits to the
wonderful facilities built by the various strands of the Jewish community.
I met the members of VJM at a meeting in a member's
home and learnt about the work that each member has contributed to the
community in Mexico. There were a number of different volunteer
activities including that taught to VJM by David Copperfield the magician
some years back.
y final official activity organised by Lilian
Grinberg was a special meeting of all presidents of Mexican Jewish women's
organisations to introduce ICJW to the
Over twenty women attended, each was happy to speak about the work of her organisation
and I answered many questions about the work of ICJW.I was surprised and
delighted at their interest and their wish to be involved in ICJW activities.
The president of the combined Jewish women’s organisations asked me how
they could become part of ICJW and I was somewhat taken aback – our
newest affiliate is the small Mexican VJM who are very proud of their
affiliation to ICJW. I really didn’t tackle this difficult question yet, I
suggested to our members that we will hope to see some of these organisations
represented at open sessions of the Mexican regional meeting in October before
considering their request.
While in Mexico I was pleased to visit and confirm the
venue chosen for ICJW's Latin American Regional meeting and Executive meeting
later this year. The meeting room we have booked is within the huge, well
equipped Jewish centre containing the Jewish Sports Centre as well as an
extensive library. We have booked a suitable dining room in the
centre. Since my visit the Mexican affiliate leaders are deciding the
accommodation . All attendees will be bussed back and forth to the
meetings asMexico City traffic is shocking.
For this reason we will begin meetings at 10am each day.
I hope that many Executive members will take the opportunity to come to Mexico
to attend the ICJW Latin American Regional conference and Executive
meeting. In this quadrennium this will be the first of only two ICJW regional
conferences, for despite the fact that ICJW has five geographical regions just
two regions have a large enough number of countries within them to make a
special conference - Latin America and Europe. European Regional Chair Liliane
Seidman is organising the ICJW European Regional Conference in Madrid in
November 2016 and will tell you something about it later in this meeting.
Travelling from Sydney to this week's Executive meeting, I had the
pleasure of meeting with members of two ICJW affiliate organizations,
Cooperation Feminine in Paris and League of Jewish Women in Manchester, UK.
Later this week I will meet with London members of the League of Jewish Women
at their Council Forum. I will send you a report on my meetings with the UK and
Paris organisations, but I must say that the volunteer work undertaken by
members of both LJW Manchester and Cooperation Feminine in Paris amazed and
inspired me. Such visits remind me that as ICJW Exec members we sit astride our
affiliate organisations, literally dozens of wonderful Jewish women's
organisations , within which many thousands of fellow Jewish women give
their time, care and expertise as volunteers in their communities.
Our position as Executive members of ICJW means that we speak as members of a
global women’s body. Along with many of you I have spoken out on issues which
are at the core of our priorities and reflect our principles. In March, I
participated in an International Women's Day event at the Baha'i Temple in
Sydney, along with women representatives from the Muslim, Catholic and Baha'i
communities. The topic was 'The role of religion in advancing gender equality'
- which made it difficult to provide positive answers in our
speeches. Later in the day we continued our discussion on a program
for Australian ABC Radio National, which was broadcast nationally in
I returned to Sydney last week from the ICJW May Executive meeting in
Antwerp; while in the northern hemisphere I also made visits
to the League of Jewish Women, our UK affiliate in London and
Manchester and Cooperation Feminine, our French affiliate in Paris .
ICJW Executive Meeting - Antwerp, Belgium, May 2015
(See also the report with photos here)
Thirty six Executive members attended the Antwerp meeting, with several
Belgian affiliate members joining us for sections of the two-
day meeting. Sixteen countries were represented at the meeting and the
program gave opportunities for most Executive members to speak.
I am very grateful to the Council of Jewish Women of Belgium who were
most hospitable and organised all details with care. Our thanks go to CFJB/
LJVB President Lucette Pilcer, her team Liliane Seidman and Nadine Iarchy,
Eliane Sperling and special thanks to Mary Liling who hosted the welcome dinner
and a second impromptu dinner in her family home. Several dignitaries including
the Israel Ambassador to Belgium and Belgian Jewish leaders attended the
opening event. My thanks also go to ICJW Treasurer Joan Goldberg and PR and
Communications Chair Eva Robey who handled many tasks, including the voice
recording, timekeeping and photography responsibilities.
With apologies for closing o
n a sad note, ICJW
Life Member and dedicated member of our Belgian
affiliate, Thea Zucker, passed away shortly after the Executive meeting in
Antwerp. Thea had assisted in preparations for the meeting and very much wanted
to be part of it, but unfortunately fell very ill just that week. We wish Long
Life to Nadine Iarchy and her family on the loss of her mother.