Thursday, May 18, 2006

INTERNATIONAL COUNCIL OF JEWISH WOMEN (ICJW)

20th CONVENTION, MONTEVIDEO, URUGUAY.
12-16th May, 2006.

ICJW is an umbrella NGO representing some 2 million Jewish women who are active volunteers in 37 countries, providing services locally and are advocates for human rights, social justice and peaceful resolution of conflicts based on Jewish values.

ICJW has NGO Observer status at the UN in New York, on the Commission on the Status of Women in Vienna and NY, at UNESCO in Paris, Human Rights Commission (Committee now?) in Geneva and at many other International bodies.

While each of its Affiliates pursues its own humanitarian agenda in its own country, ICJW is representative of all that which unites its members as Women, Jews, and Jewish women,- i.e. tikkun olam (humanity).

At its quadrennial (prev. triennial) Conventions held in various countries around the globe, new leaderships are elected and budgets set for the following term. In Montevideo therefore, a new President was elected. She is DR. LEAH AHARANOV, from ISRAE, formerly the President of Emunah, the modern - orthodox women´s organization in Israel and of the COUNCIL OF WOMEN´S ORGANIZATIONS IN ISRAEL, (CWO), the umbrella women´s group which is affiliated with ICJW. This latter organization´s President is Michal Modai, formerly the world-WIZO President, (whose term will finish next year, whereupon she will take up the position of Israeli ICJW Vice President. She was present in Montevideo.)

190 registered delegates from 25 countries inc. Uruguay and some 30 spouses were treated to a series of lectures by expert speakers, panellists and workshop leaders on a variety of topics of concern to the organization and its affiliates. The fully kosher catering throughout was elegantly presented at a reasonable cost to delegates , partly due to the favourable exchange rate of the local currency. Evening dinner sessions always ended with a musical presentation, culminating in a party atmosphere, with lots of Hebrew and Yiddish singing and Hora dancing !

There were seven of us Aussies participating plus a couple of brave husbands who spent their days being driven around sightseeing while the women were in the sessions. The Australian Affiliate, NCJWA will be well represented on the new ICJW Executive. Malvina Malinek was honoured by being inducted as a Life Member of the Executive; the new ICJW Vice President for Australia is Dr. Geulah Solomon; Robyn Lenn, (NCJWA Pres.) has responsibility for Community Services and Anne Morris will co-chair the Status of Women Committee. Susie Ivanyi is the new Asia-Pacific Regional Chair and Di Hirsh vice-chairperson with Zara Young the hon. treasurer for this regional committee.

Policy resolutions were passed as well as topical (Emergency) ones on the need to lobby Governments to take action to stop the genocide going on in Darfur; as well as in support of the German Women´s organizations lobbying against the trafficking of women in Germany for prostitution, during the FIFA World Cup. (Trafficking of women in general was dealt with at length during the sessions.)

The ongoing work of the committee dealing with THE PROBLEMS OF ¨THE √ĀGUNOT¨(chaned women without religious divorce, the gett) under the leadership of Sharon Shenhav of
Jerusalem was poignantly depicted in a documentary film about three such victims in Israel.
This film created such an impact on the Knesset (parliament) and the Chief Rabbi that an International Conference of Rabbis and religious leaders will finally take place on this topic, in November in Jerusalem. Hopefully a halachik solution will finally emanate from this.

The ICJW UN NGO Observers reported that a slight improvement in the way Israel is being treated there, particularly since the election of Hamas by the Palestinians. The age-old scourge of anti-semitism was discussed at length, versus the new antisemitism disguised as anti-Zionism. (One can criticize a government, but when one is against a nation as a whole, then it reverts to pure racism,- a la Iran! This is the face of the new anti-semitism). Educating from a very young age to avoid ignorance about Jews as a whole , was strongly advocated in all countries.

Several new and practical initiatives were proposed, including the re-engaging with the students through WUJSS whose female President was one of several speakers brought from Israel and other countries to address the Plenum, plus updating the website to make it more interactive, and more promotion of ICJW through modern marketing techniques, etc.

I wish the new President, Leah Aharonov and her team a successful term in office and may all our combined efforts bring the desired results of peace, tolerance and freedom and equality for us women, and all humanity.

MM. Miriamdownunder.

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