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In Gratitude: Bev Michaelis

2013 IWD Award of Excellence recipient

Sydney, Australia

“Your 5th child is very demanding”, Beverley (Bev) Michaelis’ four children keep saying to her. This “5th child” is none other than the UIA New South Wales Women’s Division. They may have a case because Bev has for decades considered the Campaign a central part of her life.

We met her at a well-known Tel Aviv hotel shortly before the annual Keren Hayesod-UIA World Conference. This year’s opening was a special one for her and her UIA NSW Women’s Division Co-Chairman Judy Stromer as they were presented the 2013 Keren Hayesod International Women’s Division Award of Excellence.

Bev is relaxed and soft-spoken. While she is delighted to have been chosen for the Award it is clear that her long-time involvement did not stem from the desire for honour or recognition – it just came from the heart.

“I was born and grew up in Johannesburg, South Africa, in a warm home where my beloved parents imbued in us a deep love, respect and sense of responsibility for Israel”, says Bev. This feeling was further enhanced when I married Henry Michaelis z”l in 1971.

The young newlyweds spent their first holiday visiting Israel and Bev remembers being awed by what she saw. This trip led to the decision to strengthen her connection to Israel. “Today I continue to be amazed by what Israel is and has to offer!” she notes.

Bev first became a Women’s Division keyworker in 1986, shortly after her arrival in Australia from South Africa. Two years later she became Sydney North Shore Chairman at the same time assisting her husband in his capacity as Chairman of the North Shore General Division. In 2003 she assumed her current position as Women’s Division Co-Chairman for the State of NSW together with Judy Stromer.

Ten years later she is convinced that “anyone involved in volunteering gains more than they give” and has used this message in any recruiting they have done. One of their most exciting achievements has been the formation of the TIKVAH (hope) group of young women they brought into the UIA Campaign. This group held their 1st function with 30 women, aged 25 – 35; this year, just three years later, the number grew to more than 130!

The main focus of UIA NSW Women’s Division, under Bev’s and Judy’s leadership, has been the support of the Nurit Absorption Centre in Beersheva. The Centre hosts immigrants from Ethiopia in the first stage of their absorption into Israeli society. “We were looking for a fundraising tool to show our people what we do in the field, somewhere they could visit and connect with”, she recalls. The Nurit project seemed to perfectly express her own and UIA’s priority values: Jewish solidarity, assisting vulnerable populations and enabling immigrants, especially children, to integrate and become proud Israelis. It was natural, therefore, that she and Judy decided to celebrate their Award of Excellence with the residents of Nurit who are a kind of “second family” to them.

“I have supported our local Sydney communal organizations for many years but my love of Israel has always taken priority”, says Bev. “I have been privileged to meet and to work with wonderful people who have each in their own way left an impression on me – mentors who have guided me, speakers who have inspired me and beneficiaries of the work of Keren Hayesod-UIA who have humbled me. I am honoured at being nominated and I know that Henry would have been equally proud to see me receive this prestigious award as he always encouraged my endeavours, recognizing the important role of the KH International Women’s Division”.

“The Blessings of four children – a son and three daughters – four fabulous in-law children and, so far, nine beautiful grandchildren sustain me and fill my life with joy!” she says with emotion. Bev’s Jewish and Zionist commitment has passed on to the next generation with one of her daughters having made Aliyah about nine years ago and her other two daughters are both Women’s Division keyworkers…..the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree!

The worldwide family of Keren Hayesod-UIA sends its congratulations to Bev on receiving the 2013 IWD Award of Excellence. Thanks again for all that you have done until now, dear Bev, and best wishes for many more years of good health and happiness with your loved ones as well as continued activity on behalf of Israel and the Jewish people.

Following is Bev’s message to Keren Hayesod-UIA World Headquarters in Jerusalem:

I am extremely honored to be nominated together with my Co-Chairman Judy Stromer for the Keren Hayesod International Women’s Division 2013 Award of Excellence.
It is said that if you ask any volunteer why they do what they do the answer is always that they gain more than they give – and I can truly attest to this. I love doing what I do secure in the knowledge that it helps to integrate those we bring to Israel to become strong proud Israelis.
I would like to thank Nelly de Bobrow and her International Committee as well as the professionals of Keren Hayesod for this prestigious award.
I work with an incredible team in Sydney and I share this award with them.
My best wishes for the continued success of Keren Hayesod.

For her vision, her extraordinary leadership and her unwavering dedication, Bev Michaelis is a worthy recipient of the 2013 IWD Award of Excellence

judi stromer

Bev Michaelis and Judy Stromer (right) with the Award of ExcellenceFrom left to right: Nelly de Bobrow, International Women’s Division World President; Victoria Reimers, IWD Honorary President; Greg Masel, KH-UIA Director general; Bev Michaelis; Eliezer (Moodi) Sandberg, KH-UIA World Chairman; Penny Hurst OAM, Australia WD Federal Chair; Judy Stromer; Yohanna Arbib-Perugia, Chair, World Board of Trustees


Bev Michaelis

Bev Michaelis addresses the audience.