In the first of a two-part interview, Laura Orzy speaks about the energy, responsibility and motivation that makes the Israel Bonds Women’s Division a key part of next-generation engagement.
Q: Women’s Division has been part of the Israel Bonds structure for many decades. Today, it’s a different world. Women are CEOs, surgeons and construction workers.
Is the concept of Women’s Division still relevant?
A: Israel Bonds has long had various divisions uniting, for example, business-people with commonalities. There have been and still are real estate and medical divisions. Those involved support and strengthen each other while working for the good of Israel.
In that context, Women’s Division makes even more sense, which is one of the reasons that it continues to thrive as a distinct division within Israel Bonds whereas some others have not. Women’s Division has certainly played an important role in strengthening the commitment of women and their families – as well as those with whom they are involved professionally and who fall within their ever-growing spheres of influence in this evolving world – to Israel.
Q: What are some of the specific attributes, from your perspective, that make the division such a vibrant part of the Israel Bonds ecosystem?
A: It boils down to two things. The fact that we all have an important stake in the success of Israel and the fact that we need to ensure that our children and grandchildren will feel the same connection and necessity. This is about creating a grassroots and fundamental connection for our next generation as well as strong networking opportunities.
Women’s Division is about mobilizing women to work for and support Israel, to open doors and network on every level and to build that true Israel connection.
It also provides opportunities for many more women through leadership roles to make a personal difference to the various communities. I have seen it firsthand through the programs championed by Women’s Division.
Q: You mention the need to ensure our next generations are connected to Israel. A lack of ‘Under 40s’ engagement is sometimes described as one the most serious crises facing our communities. What are your thoughts?
A: No doubt about it - continuity and involvement from our next generation are critical.
We are very proud of the enthusiasm and growth of our New Leadership Division, however, we cannot take any of this for granted.
To that point, Women’s Division pays close attention to their activities. We have a mentorship programme whereby seasoned lay leaders are paired with New Leaders. Our goal is to guide and encourage our female New Leaders to become active in Women’s Division as they ‘mature’ within the organization.
We also invite all women of that generation to attend our Women’s Division activities at a lower cost. I feel that if our next generation is not engaged in taking on leadership roles, in any Jewish and Israeli-connected organizations, we have not fulfilled our duty of continuity.
Q: Women’s Division International isn’t just about gender or age demographics – is spans continents and cultures. As you visit the various centres of Diaspora life, as a lay leader, what are your thoughts about the differences you see?
A: Yes, there are significant cultural differences. But in so many cases, our international communities have more similarities than differences. I believe our communities are one global community, with similar objectives and challenges.
With rising anti-Semitism and, sadly, the danger of diminishing support for Israel in the next generation we touched on, I see more and more similar needs. Of course, there are cultural nuances, but the core issues are the same.
I feel that coming from South Africa, having some years in London and New York, and many in Toronto has helped me to appreciate those kinds of differences and the need for sensitivity to them.
Q: Looking ahead, what are your plans for Women’s Division International? What are some of the key challenges as well as the most promising opportunities?
A: My plan is to introduce - where it is unknown - and to help further develop Women’s Division as a vibrant and active group across all our International locations.
I’d like to see an active Women’s Division leadership council offering varying events in each of the cities where Israel Bonds has a presence. These councils and events should include women with different careers, interests, backgrounds and ages.
Our challenges are based on the many various cultures and local regulations that come into play. As I mentioned, the cultural differences are realities that we must be aware of and sensitive towards. Thankfully, the Israel Bonds Staff and leadership are applying an increasingly impressive level of experience and creativity when building the brand in different areas.
I think that the entire Israel Bonds organization is excited by the energy and enthusiasm that women in various cities are bringing to the task of supporting Israel through Israel Bonds.
The members of Women’s Division are enthusiastic to learn more, to support Israel and to work with each other to expand our connections.It’s clear that Women’s Division is a unique conduit to all that.
We are reaching larger numbers of new people and the brand equity we are strengthening is so vital. In another era, we used to say, ‘building the land.’ Now, we are really helping to ‘build the brand’ – brand Israel.
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Women’s Division International
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