Marlis Cohen OAM z’l was a member of WIZO for just over 60 years. Born in Berlin, she arrived in Australia with her parents when she was eight years old. After graduating from the University of Melbourne with a Bachelor of Science, she soon married and joined WIZO Nathanya as one of its Foundation Members. She went on to become President of WIZO Nathanya and join both State and Federal WIZO Executives. On the State Executive she served as Treasurer for many years and was the President of WIZO Victoria from 1980 to 1988.
Marlis was Honorary treasurer of WIZO Australia for the 6 year terms of both Zosia Mercer OAM z’l and Jo Gostin OAM z’I.
Marlis’ mother, Dr. Alice Benfey, was Federal President from 1960 – 1964, and Marlis was proud to carry on her mother’s legacy. She attended a number of World WIZO conferences in Israel and is the recipient of a Life Governor of Ahuzat Yeladim, a Rebecca Sieff Award, an Honorary Life Membership of the WIZO Federation of Australia, and most recently, the Order of Australia Medal.
Whilst holding these various WIZO positions. Marlis also worked nearly full time with her husband in their manufacturing business, so it is not surprising that she says she did not have any hobbies!
Marlis fervently dedicated herself to the World WIZO movement, to WIZO Australia and WIZO Victoria, and was committed to improving the lives of children, youth and women in Israel. An Executive member of both WIZO Australia and WIZO Victoria. her influence was always impactful.
The Marlis Cohen Playground at Raya Jaglom Day Care Centre in Tel Aviv bears her name as a loving tribute to her outstanding leadership and devotion. Plaques are also installed at both Ahuzat Yeladim in Haifa and Hatzor Air Force Base in her honour.
Marlis’s other area of service was her synagogue, the Leo Back Centre for Progressive Judaism where she was on the Board as Treasurer or Co-Treasurer for a long time. In appreciation for her dedication, she was made a Life Member of the Leo Back Centre. They presented her with Life Membership in 2012 and she received the Menorah Award from B’nai Brith, Victoria the year before. Marlis received the Ner Tamid Award in 1999 from the Union for Progressive Judaism in recognition of her exceptional service to the Progressive Jewish community and in particular, the Leo Back Centre for Progressive Judaism. above and beyond the call of duty or involvement.