New Wizo chair puts the case for Israel giving to younger generation

Annabel Steltzer says many are unaware of 'the social issues facing Israeli society and the numbers still living below the poverty line', people that Wizo UK supports through its fundraising


New Wizo UK chair Annabel Steltzer can take at least one positive from the pandemic as she endeavours to attract new members in an “increasingly competitive” charity market.

Like other organisations, Wizo had to move activities and services online. One result was a wider and younger audience, something she intends to build on.

“There are challenges to be addressed; the economic challenges following Covid and some that are specific to Wizo, including charitable giving leaning towards domestic charities,” Mrs Steltzer explained.

People perceived Israel as “a strong, thriving country”, unaware of “the social issues facing Israeli society and the numbers still living below the poverty line”.

There was also lack of awareness of Wizo’s extensive welfare work in Israel, which the UK organisation fundraises to support. However, “running events online has allowed us to invite more people than we would normally be able to and open up our networks around the world”.

A lawyer living in Hampstead Garden Suburb, Mrs Steltzer, 53, has succeeded Ronit Ribak Madari as UK chair. Her family’s Wizo involvement goes back generations.

“My mother, Angela Landau, who was awarded the prestigious Lily Sieff Award last year for all her work, has been actively involved with Wizo since 1967. She was co-chair of Wizo’s education department for six years, vice-chair of Wizo for six years and is now an honorary life president.

“My great-grandmother was a member of Wizo and was involved in the women’s movement to rescue children from Nazi Germany. I grew up hearing about the work they do.”

Participating in events for many years and having served as a trustee had helped her “get a grip on what Wizo is all about” and she is passionate about sharing that both within and outside the Jewish community.

The Hampstead Garden Suburb Synagogue member is keen to highlight the difference Wizo’s work makes to Israeli life.

“Wizo recognises that Israel is a multicultural, diverse, evolving society and the mission of Wizo UK is to continue to fund vital projects and programmes to give all Israelis the opportunity to be fulfilled and contributing citizens, helping to bridge the social divide.

“I see my role as chairman to facilitate these aims to improve lives and build futures.

“So many people think of Israel as a home from home and it is important to support the work that goes on,” she said.

Mrs Steltzer also wants to ensure that Wizo’s board and trustees reflect a wide range of age and backgrounds.

“I think our youngest board member is in their 30s and the oldest is over 70. We don’t want to be restrictive with age.”

She has engaged her three adult children in Wizo UK activities.

“My son, who is in America at the moment, attended an event recently online. I’m excited about what we can offer and how widely we can reach people by continuing events like that.”

Yet “nothing compares to going on a trip and seeing the work Wizo does up close. I can’t wait to plan a trip as soon as it is safe to.”

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