WIZO Hadassim “led me to believe in my power, in my strength”, said Israeli TV personality, actress and international speaker Eden Harel, who is set to address WIZO NSW’s gala dinner on Wednesday, August 7.
Having attended the charity’s youth boarding school in Tel Aviv, Harel expressed her gratitude for “how it gave me hope, and how it taught me so many important things … For mum, it was very difficult to raise us. She had to work from the morning until very late at night. We were alone most of the day, and she didn’t like it.”
Not one to excel at traditional academic pursuits, alluded Harel, she said WIZO Hadassim “cared about the fact that I was very creative … I would learn how to dance, how to be a photographer, how to edit videos”.
The opportunities WIZO Hadassim offered for Harel’s “artistic soul” set her on a creative path, and she initially rose to success as an MTV presenter. Following the end of her contract with MTV Europe, Harel lived in a Buddhist monastery in India, and the contrast with her former life could not have been starker.
“When I was at MTV obviously everything was very materialistic … It was very flashy and glamorous and when I went to India it was the other side,” she said.
“I was always the child that asked spiritual questions, like ‘what are we all doing here?’ and ‘why are we here?’ … India was the beginning of a spiritual trip that thank God, never stopped until this day.”
Attending the monastery seems to have brought Harel closer to her Jewish heritage.
Harel, who returned to Israel in 2001, refers to Shabbat as a “lifesaver”.
“It’s amazing and in a world that has become so fast and intense, if we are not going to stop and chill, then what is going to happen?”
In Sydney, she hopes her audience will gain a better understanding of how their donations are helping vulnerable communities.
“Their money managed to save my life,” she said.
For this year’s campaign, funds raised from the evening will go towards rebuilding the Jonas dormitory, home to at-risk Israeli children.
The campaign will be held at The Venue in Sydney’s Alexandria on Wednesday, August 7 at 6.30pm. Tickets at wizonsw.org.au/gala.