President’s Column: From Old Clothes to New Wine
Winter reminds me of one of our oldest but not frequently heralded fund-raising efforts: the Hadassah Thrift Shop. We were way ahead of the times in recycling. Our resale outlets were an important source of income for our projects and they also provided warm clothing at low prices for the needy. My mother was involved in a special thrift shop in New York City that only opened two weeks at a time. For months, Hadassah women piled up stock in their garages, even if they had to park on the street. My father and my uncle rented a truck to drive the goods from our neighborhood in Queens to the shop in Manhattan (Associates, take note). One winter day a customer came into the shop for a coat, and my mother discovered that there were none. So she sold her own coat. She arrived home in a blizzard wearing a torn sweater.
I’m sure many of you have thrift shop stories, too. But Hadassah is innovative, not only nostalgic. I’m proud to announce the unveiling of “Fabulous Finds,” our newest resale project, Web-based, of course, piloting in Philadelphia. We get to clear our china cupboards and consciences by contributing the treasures we’re finally ready to part with: sterling silverware the children will never have time to polish, that unmatched Wedgwood cup, the wedding gift you haven’t found the right time to use even though you’re past your 40th anniversary.
Our resale fundraisers support our projects in Israel and serve our communities in America. At Hadassah, we’re always doing two things at once. Maybe we’re good at balancing because we live by two calendars. Less than three months ago we celebrated the beginning of 5766, the Hebrew year. But we can’t ignore the other New Year, either.
The year 2005 was one of extraordinary accomplishment. Last March we dedicated the Judy and Sydney Swartz Center for Emergency Medicine, which has become an integral part of Hadassah–Hebrew University Medical Center at Ein Kerem. Publications like the Journal of the American Medical Association continue to request reports from Hadassah Medical Organization staff on the protocols and procedures that resulted in our extraordinary success in saving terror victims.
In September the largest Year Course ever arrived in Israel, taking on new challenges in inner cities. They arrived just as Israel was involved in the painful Gaza disengagement. They had not been in Israel 24 hours when a group of them went to help pack plants and seedlings from hothouses. We feel enormous satisfaction from the dedication of our young people to the Jewish state, and end 2005 looking forward to the dedication of the Beit Ar-El Judaean Center for Jewish Continuity in Jerusalem in March.
Hurricanes battered America this year, and Hadassah members contributed to emergency efforts—with funds and as volunteers (see story, page 71). Our Houston community, itself in the path of destruction, continues to reach out to those dislocated.
This past year our State of Stem Cells SOS campaign in all 50 state capitals had an impact on legislation to allow open scientific research. Our efforts are bearing fruit.
Speaking of fruit, who would have guessed that we would be able to toast the New Year with our first Hadassah wine? The grapes at the Meir Shfeya Youth Village are ripe, and you are all invited to come on one of our Hadassah Renaissance Missions next year to sample a bottle of the 2006 vintage. Our prize-winning school has opened a viticulture track for students who want to become sommeliers, vintners or grape producers. As interest in wine soars, these teens are almost assured good jobs.
The New Year arrives as we celebrate Hanukka, a holiday that emphasizes activism. Our ancestors stood up to an oppressive empire and demanded the freedom to practice our faith. Only then were they rewarded with the miracle of the oil that burned for eight days.
As the new year begins, I toast you with the wish for heightened activism and innovation. Now, bring out the Shfeya wine. I know! We’ll call it “Zionfandel.” Hanukka same’ah!