ONE of the biggest challenges facing newly elected WIZO Australia president Michelle Spiro, she said, is getting younger generations of Jewish women involved in the organisation.
Spiro has dedicated almost 40 years to WIZO and replaces Paulette Cherny, who stepped down following her six-year term.
With the presidency alternating between Victoria and NSW, Sydney-based Spiro is now at the helm.
High on the agenda for WIZO is succession and Spiro has “great hopes” for the young women who are already on board.
“It’s now become extremely important,” Spiro told The AJN.
“We didn’t have it, we were ignoring it, because we have a very good team, but we can’t do this forever. We looked for girls who were Zionists, because you have to love Israel first.”
Recently WIZO NSW moved six young observers onto the WIZO NSW board as shadow members to give them an opportunity to fully understand the workings of the organisation.
“We straight away got them to shadow the board and we made them feel important, because they are important,” Spiro said.
“One of them I’ve put on my federal executive in charge of the Aviv representative, together with a woman in Melbourne. They’re also in contact with all the Aviv representatives across the world.”
Spiro understands the commitment required to volunteer for WIZO, having run her own successful pharmacy while raising three children.
“When you’re a volunteer you have to give a lot and people are frightened of it, doing something for nothing,” she said.
“But it’s not for nothing – I have got so much satisfaction from doing what I do.
“I’m a pharmacist, I had my own business for 35 years and I sold it five years ago, but I still locum as a pharmacist. WIZO I do because I love it – I love what we do, I love how we help all these people and we’ve got to get young people to love it too.”
As the daughter of community legends Joseph and Gerda Brender, Spiro was born into a strong-minded Zionistic family.
She became WIZO NSW treasurer in 1999 and continued in that position for 16 years. During that time she also accepted the role of treasurer for WIZO Australia from 2010 to 2016, so she has an idea of what lies ahead during her term.
“I worked very closely with Gilla Liberman when she was WIZO Australia president, so I know what it entails,” Spiro said.