Members of the Women’s International Zionist Organization elected Tova Ben-Dov to be its next president on Thursday at the conclusion of its quadrennial gathering in Tel Aviv.

Ben-Dov, who was formerly the head of WIZO in Israel, will succeed President Helena Glaser, who is stepping down after eight years of leading the 92-year-old women’s group.

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“The show of female power by WIZO delivers a clear massage about the place of women in Israeli society at the vanguard of leading the Jewish and Israeli ethos,” said Glaser. “Segregating women only sharpens the challenge ahead of us about promoting an egalitarian and democratic Jewish society.”

Earlier in the day opposition leader Tzipi Livni addressed the WIZO delegates, telling them Israel did not have to pick between Jewish law, or the halacha, and state laws.

“There is a clash between those who derive authority from the torah and halacha and the rabbis and another group to whom the source of authority is the law and judges,” she said. “I don’t think you have to choose between the Jewish values and democratic values of Israel.

That’s not the choice. We have to act so that both sides live in harmony so that it is possible.”

She warned against segregation of women in public and WIZO announced on Thursday it had raised a total of $11 million in 2011. The group said it had been relatively unaffected by the global financial downturn of 2008 because it relied on diverse sources of income and received donations from many countries around the world, rather than relying on one in particular.

WIZO on Thursday would not, however, divulge how much it raised the year before for comparison, saying the numbers were not readily available.

Some 800 women’s shelters, daycare centers, schools and other charities throughout Israel depend on donations from WIZO. During the Second Lebanon War, WIZO offered help to the residents of cities and towns in the north and south which came under bombardment by Israel’s foes.

“There is a clash between those who derive authority from the torah and halacha and the rabbis and another group to whom the source of authority is the law and judges,” she said. “I don’t think you have to choose between the Jewish values and democratic values of Israel. That’s not the choice. We have to act so that both sides live in harmony so that it is possible.”

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