(JTA) – A Jewish women’s group in Mexico has been awarded one of the country’s most traditional and prominent awards in the field of social services.
The Women’s International Zionist Organization (WIZO) received the Benito Juarez National Citizen Merit Award for 2016 on Monday in a ceremony held at the Mexican Congress.
Sponsored by Movimiento Ciudadano, or “Citizen’s Movement,” a public entity and political party, the Benito Juarez award recognizes people and organizations that have performed outstanding work for the benefit of Mexican society.
“This is the very first time the government and the Congress have granted such recognition to our institution in 75 years of continuous work in Mexico. Our work in education is truly fantastic,” WIZO Mexico President Shula Shrem told JTA.
Alejandro Orozco, general director of the Senior Citizens National Institute, presented the award to Shrem, saying: “Jewish women have always been a example of good values, respect for the family and strength. We have a lot to learn from them.”
Founded in 1940, WIZO Mexico gathers some 350 women of all ages and sectors of the Jewish community who perform volunteer social work in Mexico City, Monterrey, Guadalajara, Tijuana-San Diego and Cancun.
WIZO is an international volunteer organization dedicated to social welfare in all sectors of Israeli society, the advancement of the status of women and Jewish education in Israel and the Diaspora. Founded in 1920 and run exclusively by women, WIZO is one of the largest women’s networks in the world with over 250,000 volunteers in 50 countries.
The Mexican Jewish community has expressed its appreciation for Benito Juarez, former Mexican president and national hero, several times. In 1940, Der Wag newspaper published a Yiddish-language almanac in which Juarez was praised as a strong defender of the secular state. Following his death in 1972, the president of the Israelite Central Committee also honored the Mexican leader.