Inside Hadassah: Building From the Bottom Up
This summer heralds more Hadassah milestones. We congratulate Nancy Falchuk, Hadassah’s new national president, and June Walker, outgoing president and the next chair of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. Best wishes to both! a We highlight the tower campaign Cornerstone Mission in Jerusalem and the Hebrew University– Hadassah School of Dental Medicine’s participation in an upcoming conference in Turkey. We focus, too, on our Young Judaea activists and the life-changing work of our Children-at-Risk grants. —Ruth G. Cole
President’s New Chair
As she prepares to hand over the mantle of leadership at Hadassah, June Walker is stepping into a new role as chair of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.
The 50 member organizations represented by the Conference of Presidents selected Hadassah’s outgoing national president for the position—a two-year tenure beginning this month—based on her extensive involvement in a wide range of Jewish communal activities. She is the first woman to head the conference in over a decade.
“[Walker] has been a longtime leader and is highly conversant in the issues facing the Conference of Presidents,” noted outgoing chair Harold Tanner. “She has been an outstanding leader with one of the largest and most important organizations. She is well known in the U.S., Israel and Jewish communities abroad.”
Tel Yehudah’s Day on the Hill
This summer, nearly 200 Young Judaeans will travel to Washington to advocate for causes that are close to their hearts.
For the past five years, 16-year-old campers on the leadership track at Camp Tel Yehudah have traveled to Capitol Hill to make their voices heard. This is the first year, however, that the teenagers decided which issues to address. After deliberations at Young Judaea’s national midwinter convention in February, the young people voted for the issues that concerned them most.
The four topics on the docket this summer are support of Israel in international affairs; stopping Iran’s nuclear proliferation; global warming and environment concerns; and putting an end to the genocide in Darfur, Sudan.
Despite the overnight bus ride to Washington from Tel Yehudah’s Barryville, New York, location, the campers look forward to the trip, which, for many, is their first experience in advocacy.
“The Day on the Hill Program embodies all that is good about Young Judaea and Tel Yehudah,” said Alex Zaremba, Young Judaea’s national vice president who suggested one of the issues that was selected. “By educating about real-world problems and giving [campers] the opportunity to make a difference, Tel Yehudah helps guide our youth to put YJ’s values of Zionism and tikkun olam into action.”
Providing a Home
The Jaffa Institute Crisis Intervention Center is a last resort for many children in Israel who might otherwise fall through the cracks.
The center is one of this year’s recipients of a Hadassah Children-at- Risk grant. The CIC provides a refuge for children in crisis situations and collaborates with authorities to find long-term solutions in the best interest of the children.
Established in 2000, the CIC works with the local departments of social welfare in Jaffa, Tel Aviv and Bat Yam to identify children who must be removed from their homes due to abuse or the sudden absence of a parent. The center seeks to place children in warm, family environments, preferably close to their original homes so they experience as little disruption to their lives as possible.
For example, the center recently provided housing and a safe environment for three children—their mother was dying and their father was in jail—while staff interviewed over 300 applicants to find them a permanent home where the siblings could stay together.
Each year, Hadassah allocates a significant portion of its Youth Aliyah budget to provide much-needed grants for programs and organizations in Israel that help children identified as at-risk. The Jaffa Institute was one of eight firstyear grant awardees for 2007.
On Teeth in the Middle East
This year, dentists from all over the world will convene in Turkey to work together on particularly challenging bridgework—fostering peaceful coexistence.
In a joint effort of the Hebrew University– Hadassah School of Dental Medicine (founded by the Alpha Omega fraternity); East Jerusalem’s Al-Quds University Dental School; and Hacettepe University School of Dental Medicine in Ankara, Turkey, the second Middle East Symposium on Dental Medicine will take place from September 6 to 9 in Antalya. The event will bring together Israeli, Palestinian, Jordanian and American dentists in a Muslim country to further their professional development and discuss their many common interests and concerns.
This year’s topic is “Clinical and Aesthetic Aspects in Comprehensive Dental Care.” The symposium is organized in collaboration with the dental schools of Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts; Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland; the University of Pennsylvania and Drexel University in Philadelphia; as well as several Turkish dental schools.
“We strongly believe,” said Dr. Adam Stabholz, dean of the Hebrew University–Hadassah School of Dental Medicine, “that this symposium will strengthen the new friendships based on academic collaboration that have recently blossomed in our area and are so vital to us.”
The first Middle East Symposium on Dental Medicine was held in Jerusalem in November 2006 under the auspices of the D. Walter Cohen Middle East Center for Dental Education.
Story of a Survivor
In her recently published book, My Life My Way: The Extraordinary Memoir of a Jewish Partisan in WWII Poland, 92-year-old Eta Wrobel tells her remarkable story of courage and survival. She writes of her life in the years leading up to and during the Holocaust as well as how she and her husband (together, right) rebuilt their lives in America after the war.
Wrobel describes her involvement in several charitable organizations in the United States, but she calls Hadassah her “home.” She was involved in founding the Tel Chai chapter, whose membership is comprised of Holocaust survivors in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, and she has served the organization in various capacities.
“Every gathering, every meeting that involves Zionism is a direct demonstration to the world that we are united…,” she writes. “I am enormously grateful to Hadassah for giving me this tremendous opportunity to ‘belong’….”
The book was written with Jeanette Friedman and is published by The Wordsmithy in cooperation with YIVO Institute for Jewish Research.
Mission Possible: Laying the Foundation
For Ehoda Bernstein and Laurie Werner, Hadassah is practically a family business. In March, the sisters traveled from Fort Worth, Texas, to Israel with their parents, Madlyn and Lou Barnett, and their husbands, Howard Bernstein and Lon Werner, to dedicate the cornerstone of the Sarah Wetsman Davidson Tower at the Hadassah Medical Center at Ein Kerem. All the individuals or families with them on this mission pledged $1 million or more to the tower’s construction.
“This gift is about fulfilling our legacy,” Rhoda Bernstein explained. “[Hadassah is] my Zionist commitment, my commitment to the Jewish people.”
The 14-story inpatient building is scheduled to open in time for Hadassah’s centennial in 2012. The project is being made possible with the help of dedicated people who are devoted to seeing Hadassah expand its campus and, thereby, its services.
Each of the mission’s participants had a different reason for holding the hospital close to his or her heart. Mickey and Harold Smith of St. Paul, Minnesota, began their major giving 25 years ago after their daughter Margie died of breast cancer. They continue to have faith in Hadassah’s contributions toward finding a cure for the disease.
“When my daughter developed ovarian cancer, she spent a lot of time in Israel at Hadassah Medical Center,” said Sylvia Salzberg, who lives in Delray Beach, Florida. “We developed many longstanding friendships with the people who were involved with her treatment and with the hospital.”
As part of their busy schedule, mission participants met with Isaac Herzog, Israel’s minister of tourism, and they were joined by Shuli Natan, who was a 19-year-old soldier when Jerusalem was reunited 40 years ago; her voice was immortalized singing Naomi Shemer’s classic “Yerushalayim Shel Zahav” in 1967.
Lending an international flavor to the mission were Londoners Berta Bekhor and her niece, Guilda Shamash, president of Hadassah International in the United Kingdom.
At a moving ceremony in the Abell Synagogue at Ein Kerem, each donor uncovered a plaque of Jerusalem stone that will be part of the actual cornerstone of the new tower. At the event, Katherine Merage, from Laguna Beach, California, announced she would double her initial pledge.
Jonathan Aaron uncovered the plaque for his father-inlaw, William Davidson, who, together with his wife, Karen, contributed $75 million on behalf of Guardian Industries in Auburn Hills, Michigan. The tower will be named in memory of Davidson’s mother, Sarah.
While some participants contributed to memorialize loved ones, others were just eager to help where they saw a need. Two years ago, Morrine and Dan Marantz of Sands Point, New York, were given a tour of the Ein Kerem campus. “When [HMO Director General Dr. Shlomo Mor-Yosef] showed us the true condition of the current inpatient services areas,” explained Dan Marantz, “we wanted to be among the first to make a donation to the much needed…inpatient tower.”
“The last time a patient facility opened was in 1961…and only 250,000 lived in Jerusalem,” said Moshe Silagi, who unveiled a plaque together with his wife, Andrea. “Today…750,000 live in the immediate area…. The services that the hospital provides are essential.” The Cornerstone Mission was chaired by Judy and Sidney Swartz of Marblehead, Massachusetts. “The events and circumstances that surround this hospital are unique,” said Sidney Swartz. “Life in Israel is very difficult. I’m in awe of…these doctors…and what they do under unusual circumstances.”
Sam and Ellie Fishman also appreciate Hadassah’s healing work in the region. “We believe in the hospitals, in the cutting- edge medical services they provide and the care and treatment they give to all patients, whether they are Jewish or not,” Sam Fishman remarked. “That speaks to our values.”
Stewart Greenebaum, who went on the mission with his wife, Marlene, attended his first meeting as a member of the board of the Hadassah Medical Organization on 9/11. “The day the World Trade Towers were destroyed, the new clinical tower was conceived,” he recalled. “God willing, from the ashes would rise a monument to humanity.”