Rebecca Sieff, the first president of the Women’s International Zionist Organization (WIZO). The eldest daughter of Michael Marks, founder of Marks and Spencer, she was born in Leeds and educated in Manchester.
Her husband, Israel Sieff, and brother, Simon Marks, were close friends and associates of Chaim Weizmann, and she was instinctively drawn into their Zionist activity by her strong sense of tradition and historic continuity. She worked with the British Palestine Committee, which prepared the ground for the Balfour Declaration, and was a founding member and first president of the Federation of Women Zionists of Great Britain and Ireland in 1918.
In 1924, she was elected president of WIZO, which was founded in July 1920, holding this position until her death. She was especially active in the 1940s as a campaigner against British rule in Palestine and on behalf of Holocaust survivors.
Rebecca Sieff was an excellent speaker with a brilliant mind and a forceful personality. She traveled extensively, speaking on behalf of WIZO and organizing its branches all over the world. She lived mainly at her home in Tel Mond, Israel, where she is buried.
The Memoirs of Israel Sieff (1970). ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: ODNB online; R. Gassman-Sherr, The Story of the Federation of Women Zionists of Great Britain and Ireland, 1918–1968 (1968).
Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.