Inside Hadassah: Offering Encouragement and Appreciation
It’s almost Hanukka, and menoras, dreidels and the Maccabees’ story await us. It is time to celebrate religious freedom and the Jewish values that have long ensured our continuity. We renew our ties to Israel and strengthen our cohesion as Jews.
On December 12, Hadassah Magazine will award its annual Harold U. Ribalow Prize. This exciting event also reminds us to stock up on new Jewish books (as well as old favorites) for gift-giving and for our own enrichment. Light up your Hanukka nights with songs, stories and family, and read a great book! Happy Hanukka.
Shabbat on a Ship
More than 450 Hadassah members, associates, Young Judaeans and their families attended a Shabbat service together with United States Navy personnel onboard the U.S.S.
Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) in September.
The San Diego chapter of Hadassah honors its group presidents each year at a Shabbat service, normally held at a local synagogue. This year, however, Hadassah associate Vice Admiral Bud Kauderer, retired, and Madeline Goodman, a former chair of Hadassah in San Diego, suggested that the service be hosted at this unusual venue.
The U.S.S. Ronald Reagan is the Navy’s largest and newest Nimitz-class nuclear-powered aircraft carrier and one of two ships in the United States Navy with its own Torah scroll.
The one aboard the Ronald Reagan is 300 years old and was sheltered during the Holocaust by the family of Rabbi Michael Oppenheimer. It was loaned to the ship for the duration of its commission, with the provision that it never be removed from the ship.
At the Shabbat service, Goodman presented a shofar and a certificate of appreciation to Navy Chaplain Brent W. Scott.
“Experiencing a Shabbat service on a Navy ship was unforgettable,” said Hadassah associate Garry Goodman. “I was deeply honored to be able to hold the Torah. Its history reflects the endurance of our religion and the strength of our people.”
Nurses on the Hill
Two national experts and members of Hadassah’s Nurses’ Council are collaborating on a unique advocacy and training event for nurses to take place in Washington, D.C., March 4 to 6, 2007. Sally Cohen, director of both the Center for Health Policy and Ethics and the Nursing Management, Policy and Leadership Specialty at Yale University School of Nursing, and Judith Leavitt, noted political activist, author and policy maven, have worked together for over 20 years presenting, advocating and writing about health policy issues.
The group will be addressed by Washington insiders on health issues and meet nurses who work in legislative and regulatory government positions. Participants will also have the opportunity to meet with their congressional representatives.
For more information, call Helaine Ohayon at 212-451-6241 or e-mail email@example.com.
Recharging by the Sea
In the midst of the winter doldrums, from February 23 to 25, 2007, over 100 people will gather at Asilomar, a beautiful oceanfront conference center on California’s Monterey Peninsula, to attend the Educational Kallah Conference. Hosted annually by the Central Pacific Coast region of Hadassah, for over 37 years participants have been traveling great distances across the widespread region to learn, reconnect and be inspired.
This year’s scholar-in-residence will be Nitzhia Shaked, a member of the California bar and a professor in the Judaic studies program at San Francisco State University. Sessions will delve into thought-provoking topics including human rights in Israel, the country’s history and relevance today, its politics and the significance of Jerusalem.
Cantor Meeka Simerly, who has inspired Kallah participants in previous years with her singing long into the nights, will once again share her passion and enthusiasm for music and liturgy.
Please visit the region’s Web site, www.cpcr.hadassah.org, for more details about the event and to register. Space is limited.
Hadassah’s Women’s Health and Advocacy Department has adopted the award-winning GoGirlGo! program, a project of Billie Jean King’s Women’s Sports Foundation.
The turnkey program, which has also received grants from the Hadassah Foundation, combines the health benefits of physical activity and the support of a safe environment to help girls navigate the challenges of growing up. It is designed to give girls from 3rd through 8th grades the opportunity to be involved in a group sport in a noncompetitive atmosphere. With the help of a “coach,” girls choose an activity and engage in thought-provoking relevant discussions.
“It is a really fine and well developed program for girls—the best there is,” says Ellen Landis, Hadassah’s GoGirlGo! chair. “Girls place themselves at risk at a younger age for all sorts of dangerous habits. Physical activity is a great antidote, and working as part of a team is a great way to build self-esteem.”
E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more.
Dishing Up a Taste of Jerusalem
Like the country itself, Israel’s cuisine is a striking blend of Middle Eastern, African, Mediterranean and European cultures. These diverse tastes are represented in What’s Cooking?, a newly published cookbook featuring recipes from students enrolled in the culinary arts department of Hadassah College Jerusalem.
“We teach cooking methods and techniques,” says Avi Tofan, coordinator of the college’s hotel management department. “But everyone can add the spices from the tastes of home. We let [our students] use their own imaginations and traditions. We just give them the tools.” Graduates of HCJ’s culinary arts program are chefs in some of the finest kitchens in Israel.
Acclaimed by renowned author Joan Nathan as “one of those books with increasingly rare recipes of good home cooking,” What’s Cooking? is useful for both beginners and experienced home chefs. The 163-page cookbook is peppered with vignettes about the origins of dishes as well as interesting facts about HCJ.
To purchase a copy of the book, please call 800-928-0685, or e-mail Trisha Margulies, chair of HCJ, at email@example.com.
Continuing the Literary Legacy
Fiction can often teach more about its context and setting than a history textbook. So says Meir Ribalow, a playwright and one of the founders of the Harold U. Ribalow Prize, administered by Hadassah Magazine and awarded annually to an author who has created an outstanding work of fiction on a Jewish theme. As such, according to Ribalow, reading novels or short stories is the best way to understand and appreciate Jewish culture and the American Jewish experience.
This year, the winner of the $3,000 prize is Tamar Yellin for her debut novel, The Genizah at the House of Shepher, published by Toby Press (see excerpt, page 34). Yellin, who lives in England, began writing fiction at an early age and has published several short stories; the creative tension between her Jewish heritage and her Yorkshire roots has informed much of her work. She will receive her award on December 12 at a ceremony at the Center for Jewish History in New York.
The literary award was established in 1983 by the friends and family of the late Harold U. Ribalow (right), a noted editor and writer. Ribalow was known for his passion for Jewish literature. In fact, he penned or anthologized some 18 works on a wide variety of subjects—from American sports to Israeli stamps—in his spare time; professionally, he was the director of publicity for State of Israel Bonds.
Ribalow helped give many now-famous Jewish writers their start; he was among the first to publish the short stories of Bernard Malamud, Isaac Bashevis Singer, Cynthia Ozick, Grace Paley and Philip Roth, to name just a few. He is also credited with the rediscovery of Henry Roth.
The award in his name is not because he was the most famous person in the history of American Jewish literature but because he dedicated his life to publishing the work of Jewish writers,” says his son, Meir Ribalow, who sits on the nominating committee together with his mother, Shoshana Ribalow, and sister, Rena Ribalow Ben-Ephraim. “He wasn’t doing it because they were his friends. He wanted to promote Jewish literary talent.”
The award is given each year to an author “deserving recognition,” according to Ribalow. “We’re not necessarily choosing the best [Jewish] book of the year,” he says, but rather the prize recognizes and encourages either a new, talented writer—such as previous award-winners Francine Prose, Anne Roiphe or Elizabeth Rosner—or an established author who is “under-recognized” in the United States. In the latter category, Ribalow mentions Chaim Grade, who received the first Ribalow award posthumously for his novel Rabbis and Wives; and Aharon Appelfeld, who when To the Land of the Cattails was published in 1987, was well-known in Israel but had received little notice elsewhere.
“This is a direct reflection of the concerns of Harold Ribalow,” his son adds.
When the Ribalow family decided to establish a literary prize in their father’s memory, they considered various organizations to administer it. “Hadassah was the best fit,” explains Meir Ribalow. “We wanted to work with Hadassah and all it stood for.”
While few periodicals publish works of fiction these days, Hadassah Magazine continues to value Jewish fiction writers. The popularity of the Ribalow Prize among Hadassah Magazine readers underscores the relationship between the magazine and Jewish literature.
This year’s judges were Elie Wiesel; Jonathan Freedman, professor of English and American studies at the University of Michigan; and last year’s Ribalow award recipient, Jenna Blum. In the past, judges have included authors Chaim Potok, Thomas Keneally and N. Scott Momaday.
Two past Ribalow Prize-winners—Bee Season by Myla Goldberg (2001) and Everything Is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer (2003)—were made into major motion pictures last year, bringing worthy Jewish fiction into another medium and to a wider audience.