This week, Emunah – the National Religious Women's Movement, marked 80 years of activity since its founding as the women's branch of HaPo’el haMizrachi. The gala – BiGvurot Emunah – was held at Bar-Ilan University's Wohl Center, and comprised three festive sessions with the participation of Knesset members, elected officials, leaders of the Religious Zionism movement and Israeli women's organizations, as well as hundreds of guests from Israel and abroad.
The traditional ceremony, in which certificates of recognition are awarded to outstanding volunteers at Emunah's branches and institutions, was honored by a welcome speech by Rabbi Professor Daniel Hershkowitz, President of Bar-Ilan University. The Chair of Emunah, Liora Minka, noted that, in order to realize the vision and objectives of the movement's founders, many good and believing women are needed – women who are truly committed to society, community, and the State. "We found these people, and when we didn't find them – they found us," Minka said. Emunah CEO David Hadari was privileged to award the prizes.
The Outstanding Volunteer commendation was awarded to: Chasida Shiun and Cynthia Rose of Jerusalem, Orah Chazi of Afula, Pnina Dayan of Be'er-Sheva, Sarah Kaminer and Yehudit Isaac of Ra'anana, Ruth Yitzhaki of Petah Tikva, and to two educational-institution volunteers – Yehuda Miller of Afula and Michael Bitton of Netanya. The Volunteers Committee, headed by Paulette Delach, Chair of the Yehud branch, decided to give a special commendation this year to two bnot mitzvah, Shira Ochayon and Shir Lipkin, for a volunteer project that they carried out at the Emunah Day Care Center in Ofakim.
The ceremony was moderated by Gila Schwartz, an Emunah division director, and accompanied by Israeli songs performed by Ofir Ben Shetreet.
The main ceremony's theme was growth and renewal. Opening remarks were made by Education Minister Naftali Bennet, who said that, just as the Prime Minister once recommended that Israelis take a lesson from Moshe Kahlon, so he, Bennet, recommends that they take a lesson from Emunah. "They have the determination of elite combat soldiers, the professionalism of tech employees, and the dedication of mothers," he said. On Emunah's vision and its realization, journalist Sivan Rahav-Meir interviewed three women who represent the past, present and future of Emunah, which is thought to be Israel's largest Religious Zionist organization. Ada Karel, Chair of the Petah Tikva branch, veteran activist and recipient of the Presidential Award for Volunteerism; Emunah Chair Liora Minka, who led the organization to the Israel Prize; and Tzili Shaffir and Asya Kablan, counselor and resident of Beit HaYeladim Emunah-Tzeva in Netanya. The audience was treated to a charming performance by the children's choir of the Emunah-Neve Michael Youth Village in Pardes Hanna, under the direction of Avi Sharon.
Attorney Zilit Jakobsohn, head of the Bat Melech organization which provides emergency shelter to religious women, was chosen as Emunah's Woman of the Year. After receiving her commendation, she addressed a large audience, which also enjoyed the nostalgia films that accompanied the ceremony. The event concluded with a musical performance by Yardena Arazi and her orchestra.