Behind the Orange Vest: A Conversation with Vicky Tiferet on International Women’s Day

Vicky Tiferet was recently appointed as the head of United Hatzalah’s Hula Valley chapter, becoming the first woman in the organization to hold such a post.

The Hula Valley region stretches from Metula to the north of the Sea of Galilee and currently has 54 active volunteers, of which 19 are women.

Vicki lives in the town of Moshav Yuval with her husband Oded and four children. Besides her day job as a massage therapist, she has been volunteering in United Hatzalah for the last three years and is one of the most active volunteers in the Hula Valley. 

We sat down with Vicki in honor of International Women’s Day to see how things have been going for her over the last six weeks. 

How do you feel about all the excitement around you becoming the first women to lead a United Hatzalah region?

It has definitely been busy over the last month and a half, but amazing!  It’s fun. I can finally start bringing all the projects I have dreamed about into fruition. 

I hear from both the volunteers and the residents of the Hula Valley that they already feel a difference.

One project we are working on is building a local volunteer house and training center in which we can store a regular stock of necessary medical supplies and hold trainings and meet-ups for our volunteers. We are also working a lot with the poorer residents of our community, to have our volunteers visit them and make sure their basic needs are met.  And lastly we just started a new course for first responders of which half of the future responders are women.

Are you able to manage your new role with United Hatzalah, along with your day job and home life? I know you also work as a massage therapist.

Yes, I am a massage therapist and run a clinic, so I am self-employed. I am also a doula and have four births coming up! At my clinic I teach massage therapy and can give out massage certifications for those who complete their studies. 

I have four kids, two girls and two boys aged 9-17.  It’s not easy! They are older and independent, but they still need a mom of course. However, because I run my own business it is definitely easier to manage my time. No two days are ever the same.

And lets not forget my husband, Oded, who helps a lot. Without him none of this would happen!

Overall I am obviously really busy, but I love what I am doing.

What has been your biggest challenge so far? Has there been something you didn’t expect?

I was already working directly with the previous head of our region, Yossi Lahav, for the last year so I kind of knew what I was getting myself into! When he stepped down, I thought it was an amazing opportunity for me to jump start all the projects I have wanted to start in the region. I feel more or less prepared and know already what I am looking to achieve. Like I mentioned earlier,  we are currently working with the local municipality for a new volunteer house and training center.

In general, life in the periphery is really difficult. Our region spans over 180 kilometers at the northern part of Israel.  Mosha Yuval where we live sits directly on Israel’s northern border with Lebanon. Everything is far away, so it is important that everyone who can respond to a medical emergency does so.

The closest hospital is a 40 minutes drive.  We currently trying to help families with difficulties in their homes and find volunteers will regularly visit them. It is really important for me to help the periphery. I have a lot of dreams for this area. 

It is very inspiring how you made aliyah to Israel as a young girl. Hebrew isn’t your first language. How did you gain such confidence?

I am an only child and made aliyah with my family from Russia to Haifa when I was 10. My parents are very educated, my mother ran a university library in Russia and my father is a music professor and cello player.

When they arrived to Israel they needed to work extremely hard to make a living and overcome language and cultural barriers. They always told me, “Your achievements and growth in this new country is up to you”. Of course they helped me, but it was a new language and a new culture to get used to. I believe this is how I gained a lot of my strength, confidence and will to succeed. I learned to work very hard.

What is your message on International Women’s Day?

I would love more women to join United Hatzalah, especially in our region. If I can do it, any woman can do it. Women want to make things happen! They want to grow and develop. Women should be confident that they will succeed, especially if they have the will to make change. I truly believe this. 

Is there a woman you look up to?

My mother! She is so special. She is friendly and warm. She makes friends so easily.

She meets people on the street and all of a sudden she is their friend.

She is always the first to help in any situation. 

The truth is, thanks to both of my parents I am who I am today. Their support, encouragement and sacrifice to leave a familiar place in mid-life and immigrate to Israel, an unfamiliar country without knowing the language was completely just for me.

I really look up to both of them!

Thank you so much Vicki! We wish you a lot of continued success.

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Israel’s Channel 13 Afternoon program interviewed Vicky about her success as a woman volunteer.

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