Last week, a new state-of-the-art day care center in Tel Aviv was inaugurated, giving hundreds of Israeli families cause for celebration. WIZO (Women’s International Zionist Organization) opened the Younes and Soraya Nazarian Day Care and Early Childhood Education Center after receiving funding from the Los Angeles-based Younes and Soraya Nazarian Family Foundation. Currently, WIZO operates 183 daycare centers throughout Israel, caring for 14,000 children between three months and three years of age. The new Nazarian Center will have four classes caring for more than 100 children.
The partnership between the Nazarian Foundation and WIZO dates to Israel’s earliest days in the 1950’s, when the Nazarian family matriarch, Goldbahar Aviva Chachami Nazarian–known to everyone as Ima (“mother” in Hebrew) – volunteered at WIZO facilities after making aliya Israel from Iran.
Soraya Nazarian, her daughter Dr. Sharon Nazarian, WIZO President Esther Mor, chairperson Anita Friedman, and dozens of other Nazarian family members and members of the WIZO community attended the day care’s dedication ceremony last week.
“Research has shown that the investment in children between birth and five years old is critical, and that if you start that young, the rest of their lives will be a path to success,” Dr. Nazarian said at the ceremony. “This facility, and the staff and teachers who are so loving, are the insurance policy of the future of the state of Israel.”
“The Nazarian Family Foundation and WIZO share the belief that education is the most important catalyst for social change,” Mor, said. “By investing in young children, we are investing in Israel’s future as the toddlers in this wonderful center will one day be our nation’s leaders, innovators and defenders.”
Younes and Soraya Nazarian are prominent members of the Iranian Jewish community in Los Angeles, known for their years of philanthropic work, both in America and Israel, in fields such as the arts, health and institutions of higher education.
Soraya became a founding member of WIZO Los Angeles after she and her husband Younes moved to the United States from Iran and remains an active member till this day. At its entrance, the day care center will feature a bronze sculpture created by Soraya of the family matriarch with an inscription telling her story. The sculpture was inspired to give the children a second “Ima.”
“The Nazarian family’s commitment to the advancement of Israeli society is expressed in three main ways education, art, and medicine,” said Esther Barak Landes, CEO of the Ima Foundation, the Israeli arm of the Nazarian Foundation. Landes added that the fourth goal, which will soon become the foundation’s main focus, is empowering women in society.