AMIT (Mizrachi Women's Organization of America), U.S. organization founded in 1925 by Bessie Goldstein *Gotsfeld to give religious Zionist women an independent role in the development of Palestine as a Jewish homeland. Prior to the group's formation, women participated in the *Mizrachi movement through auxiliary organizations that raised funds for projects administered by men. When they decided to implement their own programs, the new American Mizrachi women confronted resistance from a male leadership accustomed to controlling movement coffers. In the face of the men's unrelenting claims to their members' resources, the Mizrachi women struggled in their first decade to maintain institutional integrity. In 1934, the group declared its complete autonomy from the men and stands today as the largest religious Zionist organization in the United States.
The Mizrachi Women's Organization has been guided by the principle that the establishment of the land of Israel by the Jewish people should be in the spirit of Israel's Torah. Its initial projects focused on ensuring that young Jewish girls in Palestine would receive training and preparation for productive and spiritual lives. Beit Zeiroth Mizrachi, a technical school and cultural center for adolescent girls in Jerusalem, opened its doors in 1933, welcoming both German refugee and native girls for training in technical, secular, and religious subjects. A second school in Tel Aviv included a Beth Chalutzoth where young working women could reside. The American Junior Mizrachi Women broadened their mother's initial endeavors to take on the creation and support of day nurseries. The religious Zionist women also built an agricultural training school and a teacher's seminary for young women, as well as homes for orphaned and neglected children.
Mizrachi women made a critical contribution to *Youth Aliyah rescue through its establishment of children's residences and youth villages for refugees from traditional backgrounds. These included the Motza Children's Home, where the first of the "Teheran children" were received, the Mosad Aliyah Children's Village in Petaḥ Tikvah, and Kfar Batya in Ra'ananah. Throughout the ensuing decades, Mizrachi women have housed and educated the needy children of each generation of new Israeli immigrants, from countries as diverse as Russia, Iran, Kazakhstan, France, and Ethiopia.
The Mizrachi Women's Organization continues its commitment to vocational education and teacher training. In 1983, the group adopted the name AMIT, and was designated as Israel's official network for religious technological secondary education. Today, AMIT cares for more than 15,000 youngsters in more than 60 schools, youth villages, surrogate homes, and child care facilities throughout Israel. The organization raises funds for all the major Israel campaigns and is a member of both the World Zionist Organization and the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.
L.M. Goldfeld, Bessie (1982); Mizrachi Women's Organization of America: Its Aims and Accomplishments (n.d.); A. Kahn, "Gotsfeld, Bessie Goldstein," in: P.E. Hyman and D. Dash Moore (eds.), Jewish Women in America: An Historical Encyclopedia, 1 (1997), 545; R. Raisner, "AMIT," ibid., 48–49.
[Tracy Sivitz (2nd ed.)]
Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.