Section_Name: Books, Brokers and a Bat Mitzva
Summer means more than livin’ easy. It means Young Judaea camps and Israel programs. It means Zionist General Council and Jewish Agency meetings in Jerusalem, where I will share views on Israel and the World Zionist movement along with other Hadassah representatives and delegates from around the world. And it means gathering at our national convention in Washington, D.C., July 17-20, to hail America, Israel and Hadassah.
The People of the Book
The Youth Aliyah village of Hadassah Neurim has some 500 students ages 14 to 20. Seventy percent of them came to Israel, leaving their families behind in Russia and Ethiopia; many others are disadvantaged Israeli youth.
While on a recent Young Women’s Mission to Israel, Claire Leibowitz of Boise, Idaho, visited Neurim and discovered it sorely needed textbooks and other reading matter for the kids (security expenses have severely cut into Neurim’s book budget). Securing books for the youth became her mission.
When Leibowitz moved from San Francisco to Boise about a year and a half ago she discovered there was no Hadassah chapter in her new home town. So she rolled up her sleeves, got to work and already has 36 women on the roster.
With the same Hadassah tenacity and enthusiasm, Leibowitz tackled Neurim’s problem. She solicited publishers, dug into the State of Idaho Department of Education warehouse and even purchased some volumes. Then, assisted by the nonsectarian Idahoans United for Israel, she sent 250 pounds of books.
Yet Neurim still has plenty of space on its shelves. The students lack popular, not-difficult-to-read works in English, on friendship, sports and film; classic literature for various reading levels; short novels in Russian and English; works on philosophy, artists, on Israel—any book you would give to your child or grandchild.
For how-to information on this project, contact Leibowitz at email@example.com or 208-440-6978.
Israel traditionally reaches out to share its hard-won knowledge and there is a great need to train Ethiopian doctors to help combat the AIDS epidemic in their country. Hadassah doctors have the know-how and now they have the money to help, thanks to Ambassador Richard Schifter of the national board of governors of the American Jewish Committee. He obtained United States funds to pay for Ethiopian doctors to learn at Hadassah Hospital in a program initiated by the head of Hadassah’s AIDS center, Dr. Shlomo Maayan (above).
In March 10 Ethiopian doctors and five Ethiopian nurses came to Israel for the hands-on pilot project, accompanying Hadassah physicians on their rounds. The innovative program was a major success and is sure to be expanded.
Israel Glam, a graduating Hadassah College Jerusalem student, won the second annual award for excellence in filmmaking from the Phoenix Jewish Film Festival (480-221-9293; firstname.lastname@example.org).
His film, The Saint-De Haan, a provocative story that actually took place in 1930’s Israel, involves the Israeli government and the Haganah. Using old film clips and interviews, Glam intertwines yesterday’s dilemmas and today’s challenges in Israel.
The runner-up, Friday Afternoon, by Nahum Grinberg, also a student at HCJ, is a light comedy about a young couple living together. Friday becomes the symbol for all the things that disturb the young woman about her basketball-obsessed boyfriend.
A Bit of Downtown Drama
How do you transform downtown Jerusalem, make it strong and relevant in the modern world? Hadassah College Jerusalem hosted an economic forum of top business entrepreneurs, city officials and government representatives to explore new ways to promote the city economically, socially and culturally. Said HCJ President Nava Ben Zvi, “We at Hadassah College are not all about studying, we are also about love for this city.”
On the agenda were strategies for dramatic changes in transportation, educational institutions and cultural centers. “We need to invest efforts in the center of town and make it more attractive,” said Minister of the Interior Ofir Pinis.
Hadassah and a Hug
Presentations at the Hadassah International Medical Relief Association’s annual conference in April in Nice, France, were highlighted by the extraordinary achievements of the Hadassah Medical Organization. Dr. Benjamin Reubinoff, director of amniotic stem-cell research at the Hadassah– Hebrew University Medical Center at Ein Kerem, explained stem-cell therapy and why Hadassah is a leader in this field. Child and adolescent psychiatrist Esti Galili described her consultations in tsunami-stricken Sri Lanka to help the children there. Cardiac-thoracic surgeons Eli Milgalter and Bashir Marzouka spoke of the heart surgery they do on Palestinian children and about their warm cooperation as an Israeli and a Palestinian.
Barbara Sabin, chair of the event, could not have been more pleased when she heard that Richard Gere would attend the conference to accept the Hadassah Citizen of the World Award.
Gere (above left, with Dr. Marzouka) admitted he hadn’t known what to expect from Hadassah. “I’m not even Jewish,” he said. “But I live in New York so I guess I’m half Jewish. Maybe we’re all Jewish.
“It’s an honor for me to be associated with Hadassah,” he declared as he heralded the “real tough women running this organization.”
Bat Mitzva for Julka
Julka Machiewicz, 18, from the town of Sopot, near Gdansk, is the first Polish participant in Young Judaea’s Year Course.
Growing up in a town with only 30 Jews, Julka was afraid to reveal her Jewish identity. Her grandmother had survived the Holocaust hidden by Polish neighbors and had married their son.
When Julka was 13, she and her mother became involved in the Jewish study group Bavli Yerushalmi (www.kolot.info/eng lish/programs/bavi_yerushalmi), which was visiting Poland from America and Israel.
Subsequently, Julka found Young Judaea’s Year Course on the Internet and visited Israel for the first time. She celebrated her bat mitzva by reading from the Torah and delivered a speech about her role model, Queen Esther.
Julka’s best surprise came when her mother flew in to attend the ceremony. “My mom is happy I am not scared of the things she feared growing up in Poland,” said a beaming Julka.
Men with Means and Muscle
Over 30 years ago, Stephen Parkoff’s wife “dragged” him to a Hadassah national convention. Not knowing what to expect, he was overwhelmed by what he experienced there and continued to go back year after year. One thing ultimately led to another and Parkoff, a Ph.D. management consultant from Edison, New Jersey, became president of Hadassah Associates, a group of men dedicated to furthering Hadassah’s important work.
Begun in 1966, Hadassah Associates are currently 27,000 strong and represent men and boys of all ages and walks of life from across the United States. They are fathers, husbands, sons, grandsons and colleagues of Hadassah members, who earnestly support the organization. Their one-time enrollment fees are invested in an endowment fund—now worth upward of $6.5 million—that supports the maintenance of facilities and equipment at the Hadassah Medical Organization in Jerusalem.
Their mission is to tap into new sources of funds through innovative activities and events. Among other notable contributions, they have funded an intensive coronary care unit, a cardiac surgical suite and a trauma unit. Six years ago they undertook a campaign and raised over $1 million on behalf of the Goldyne Savad Institute for Gene Therapy. Most recently, the associates are working on raising funds for the fitness center at the new Judaean Youth Hostel in Jerusalem.
“My involvement with Hadassah has brought me closer to Israel and the people who live there,” Parkoff says.
Chaired by Sandra King, a creative leader who helped pilot a large increase in membership, the associates have their own officers and bylaws and are currently working on expanding their ranks by 1,000 new recruits each year. In addition, they have launched a Men’s Health Awareness Initiative to make Hadassah a national resource for medical and health information for men as well as women. In particular, the initiative focuses on educating associates about heart disease, proper diet and nutrition, physical fitness and early detection of prostate and testicular cancer.
“Many men think of Hadassah as specifically a women’s organization,” says James Smith, a St. Paul, Minnesota, internist who will assume the role of president of the Associates at the 2005 national convention in July.
But Hadassah Associates has gone well beyond what the appellation might imply. “Its focus is helping the entire Jewish people, be it in the fields of medicine, higher education or assisting troubled youth. Men have unique ways to contribute in those areas as well,” Dr. Smith explains. “Hadassah Associates embodies one of the core values of the organization: It’s about working together.”
Hadassah is a long-standing tradition in Dr. Smith’s family, and he was made an associate early on by his grandmother. However, he became active in the organization because he takes pride in Hadassah’s impressive work and wanted to be a part of it. And that, he says, is what being an associate is all about.
Like many of Hadassah’s dedicated associates, Dr. Smith appreciates the organization’s diverse portfolio. “It is the breadth of Hadassah’s commitment to the Jewish people that makes it unique among Jewish organizations,” he says.
For information about becoming a member of Hadassah Associates, contact email@example.com or call 212-303-8093.