Women Building businesses while building Israel
By Gina Raphael
The economic impact of the global pandemic has been felt all around the world, including in one of the most famous retail mecca’s in the world – Beverly Hills. Thanks to a resourceful solution that improves business with an altruistic twist, many will benefit.
As Chair of the Women’s International Zionist Organization (WIZO) for Los Angeles, my focus during this most difficult time of COVID 19 has been raising funds to help WIZO projects in Israel, benefitting women and children. While our goals are fundraising for Israel, we have felt a commitment to our “Chaverot” (friends) at home, as we work on behalf of the State of Israel.
In 1920, WIZO was founded. Two of the founders included Dr. Vera Weizmann, whose husband Dr. Chaim Weizmann was the first President of Israel and Rebecca Sieff, who served as WIZO’s first President and whose family owned Marks & Spencer. They held the belief that to enable women to realize their full potential and take part in the building of a national homeland, they must be taught to use modern technologies. A framework for women’s vocational training had to be established. An independent women’s organization would enable women to develop their organizational talents and professional skills. They believed that a separate organization would further this aim.
For a century, WIZO has been helping to raise a nation as the largest social services provider outside of the government with day care centers, youth villages, shelters for battered women, girl’s leadership programs, vocational training, senior centers and so much more. WIZO USA has also assumed responsibility for the Eli & Marion Wiesel Beit Tziporah Centers in Israel, primarily focused on assisting youth of Ethiopian descent with after school and summer programmes to progress academically.
Today, WIZO has 250,000 volunteers across the globe, with over 54 Federations committed to each other and to projects in Israel. In Los Angeles, we have “committed ourselves to empowering women at home as we work to empower women in Israel.”
Under the leadership of Lauren Cohen, a Career and Executive Coach, WIZO launched this Summer, our Women for Israel Forum this Summer. The Forum serves as a community of women who network with each other to build their businesses while committing to a minimum gift to Israel. The price is nominal $18 a month or $180 a year and includes a range of marketing opportunities. The Forum has almost 50 members that include art dealers, attorneys, medical professionals, and chefs. Women are at various stages of their careers and have agreed to mentor and connect, bringing forward a new generation while ensuring new avenues for all.
While the Forum is a significant priority for WIZO Los Angeles, we felt the imperative to take our efforts to the next level. With most famous retail zip code in the world, 90210 is faced with empty storefronts. WIZO Los Angeles is seeking a higher level of commitment from our Beverly Hills community while helping Israel.
“Beverly Hills is a magical place where dreams come true. WIZO wants to create spaces where glamour, talent, friendship, inspiration, and business all intersect. Let us shine more light on our already amazing City, while empowering women locally and in Israel. Our value is not just who you know but also how we give and share” explains Lauren Cohen, also the WIZO Los Angeles Leadership Chair.
Our vision this Fall is to partner with property owners and entrepreneurs to create pop up group shops and incubator centers to help women foster their businesses while providing additional vibrancy to the community with a percentage of all sales or corporate gifts benefiting the work of WIZO in Israel. We are taking the legacy of Vera Weizmann and Rebecca Sieff to a new century, helping women fulfill their potential and working on behalf of Israel.
About the writer:
Gina Raphael is as an entrepreneur and business owner in Beverly Hills, CA. A graduate of Wellesley College and the University of Chicago Booth School of Business Gina is Chair of WIZO Los Angeles (Women’s International Zionist Organization), and Chair Israel Bonds Western Region. She is the mother of three daughters – Danielle Gross (21), Sydney Gross (19) and Mia Gross (10).
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