International Women’s Day in Jerusalem

Oh, how some things have changed over the years.

When did you first hear of International Women’s Day?

Back in 2011, International Women’s Day coincided with Israel Apartheid Week.

Israeli Apartheid? was the blog posted in honor of women in Jerusalem.

In spite of coronavirus – COVID-19, this year I have been to multiple events featuring Israeli women doing amazing things.

Hebrew sign for International Women's Day in Jerusalem Israel

Signs for International Women’s Day (IWD) appeared. In Jerusalem, not only March 8, 2020, is to be celebrated, but events are planned for the entire month of March.

Finish line for Jerusalem Winner Marathon placed before race was postponed

The Jerusalem Marathon 2020 finish line was up near Gan Sacher, Sacher Park.

Gan Sacher Park in Jerusalem Israel

The construction in the park was nearing completion.

However, the March 20 marathon races have been postponed until October.

IWD events did not involve a large number of international participants and were held, though perhaps with fewer attendees than would have been expected.

United Hatzalah of Israel inaugurated Israel’s first pink ambulance with a specific mission to treat women.

Inside of United Hatzalah pink ambulance
Photo credit: United Hatzalah

The ambulance will be operated by a crew of female volunteer EMTs and paramedics. It will respond to any type of medical emergency but will prioritize responding to incidents in which there are female patients.

Women volunteers of United Hatzalah pose for group photograpn
Photo credit: United Hatzalah

Female volunteers of United Hatzalah posed recently for a photograph.

United Hatzalah volunteers at Herzl Conference

At the Herzl Conference held at Har Herzl, I had a chance to speak with the United Hatzalah volunteers on duty watching for any sign of trouble.

Aliza Lavie at Herzl Conference opening evening.

Educator and Author Dr. Aliza Lavie, who served in the Knesset from 2013-2019, now heads the Herzl Center.

President Reuven Rivlin, Herzl impersonator, and Aliza Lavie

At the Herzl Conference on Zionism, President Reuven Rivlin participated, as did former US Senator Joe Liberman. A Theodor Herzl impersonator was on hand for photographs.

Sun set over Har Herzl Cemetery in Jerusalem Israel

At Har Herzl on Wednesday night at sunset, we heard stories of women who fell in the establishment in the modern state of Israel as we toured the cemetery.

Presenters on International Women's Day at Mount Herzl in Jerusalem Israel

However, the main event was inside the education center to hear from seven women about their strong Zionistic visions and accomplishments, each with a unique story, Women. Leadership. Zionism.

Standing (r to l) Dr. Lavie, Shoshana Keats-Jaskoll, Olga Israel, Deputy Jerusalem Mayor Fleur Hassan-Nahoun; Seated Bat-El Papura, Emily Winkler, and Naava Shafner.

Each of the speakers could be more than one story, but there were other IWD events.

International Women's Day posters at Jerusalem Cinematheque

At the Jerusalem Cinematheque posters of women lined the walls.

March 3-5, in honor of IWD, lawyer, producer Paula Kweskin Weiss hosted a film festival at the Cinematheque featuring women.  Founding The 49% media production company with the intent to feature women, this festival’s theme – women’s storytelling as an act of courage.

Peta Pellach moderates panel at The 49% Festival at Jerusalem Cinematheque

The last night of The 49% Film Festival  Kiverstein Institute sponsored a documentary film on Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom. After the film, the director, as well as Fleur Hassan-Nahoun, participated in a panel discussion of women in politics led by Peta Pellach.

Female agriculture students working in fields before establishment of Israel
screenshot

Women were trained to work in agriculture, as seen in a screenshot from a 1934 archival film. 

Jerusalem Israel new buildings planned for Beit Alliance building site

Today in Jerusalem women are involved in startups and hitech. At the old Beit Alliance Building, with a new sign announcing future housing towers, there was another IWD event on Sunday morning.

CEO Miriam Schwab and MassChallenge Yonit Serkin

International Women’s Day: Fundraising as a female founder was the topic of the MassChallenge Israel sponsored program. Miriam Schwab (on the left) shared her experiences of the founding of her WordPress startup Strattic to a mostly female audience. Yonit Golub Serkin, Managing Director of MassChallenge Israel, moderated.

In the startup world, organizations like MassChallenge provide mentors at its incubator, as well as necessary advice and support to both men and women.

Research shows women in the early days of the establishment of Israel had more equality in numbers. Eleven women served in the First and Second Knesset, and in the 1950s, that was considered advanced.

On the local level, women are involved in politics, and ten percent of municipalities are led by women.  On a national level, the numbers of women in Knesset are down. One thing women are lacking is political mentors.  It is much more difficult for Arab and Haredi women to get involved in politics, and the new Women’s Party started too late for Knesset 23.

Not wanting to leave you with a political story, I took a walk around to see what was happening on the Jerusalem streets with COVID-19 filling the news feed.

People were out, young and old, shopping and eating, and preparing for Purim.

Valley of the Cross in Jerusalem on a spring day

And after all the winter rain, below the Israel Museum, the vegetation in the Valley of the Cross was picture perfect.

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