- "La Jalutzah del Galuth": Fundraising and Women's Folk Creativity among OSFA–WIZO Members in Argentina
- Nashim: A Journal of Jewish Women's Studies & Gender Issues
- Indiana University Press
- Number 35, Fall 5780/2019
- pp. 7-39
- View Citation
- Additional Information
In recent years, much has been written about women's critical contribution to the Zionist project through women's organizations. However, the contribution of Jewish women in Latin America to the Zionist project is scarcely documented or referred to in the historiography of their communities. In the present article I will focus on the activities of the Argentinean federation of the Women's International Zionist Organization (OSFA–WIZO) between 1926 and 1970, and on how the organization utilized home-based praxis to raise funds and promote goals set by its leaders in Israel and Argentina.
The historical and cultural context within which the organization operated shaped a unique public feminine endeavor. Thousands of Jewish women responded to the call to become a Jalutzah del Galuth—a woman pioneer of the galut (exile, Diaspora)—and enlisted to work for women and children in the Land of Israel. Zionist ethos, folk creativity and feminine currency stood at the core of the network that was woven between Jewish women in Argentina and Israel, despite the physical and cultural distance. The attempt to instill a Hebrew culture that included concepts such as manual labor and gender equality among Jewish women in Argentina demanded that the discourse be adapted to the local culture. The call to women through slogans and images to integrate these values and become embodiments of the "new Hebrew woman" demanded navigation between tradition and modernity. As the community at large examined the imported Zionist discourse, the Argentinean WIZO women sought to embrace the values of sisterhood and gender equality presented to them by the Zionist ideology. They did so while simultaneously maintaining their locally assigned gender roles as housewives and mothers. In retrospect, the organization contributed to the empowerment of Jewish women in Argentina by bestowing appreciation and public recognition upon their efforts.