President’s Column: What’s in a Name?
Our profile is rising not only in the nonprofit realm but in the world of business. At a task force meeting in Jerusalem to discuss commemoration of Israel’s 60th birthday, I heard CEOs and government officials refer to Hadassah as a magnet not only for medicine and science but also for commerce.
I heard similar comments at our national convention in New York in July, where we hosted leaders from Israeli banking, pharmaceutical, high technology, communications, investment and airline companies. At sessions where they discussed economic issues with convention delegates, they described Hadassah as an anchor of Israel’s vibrant economy and a partner. (Hadassah is the second largest employer in Jerusalem, behind only the Israeli government.)
“We came to the convention to discuss how to harness business leadership to meet the challenges Hadassah has taken on,” said Dan Zarmi, a security and high-tech consultant. “What the business leaders saw far exceeded their expectations.” What seemed to impress the business delegation most was the sight of 2,500 dedicated volunteers in one place, the breadth of our network and the scope of our activities. Several guests remarked on the representatives of Hadassah Young Women/Young Leaders, who on the day of the convention banquet found themselves $25,000 short of their $1 million goal for stem cell research. At the banquet, they went from table to table until they had met their quota—a full year ahead of schedule.
Of course our name is pivotal in drawing supporters to our projects. This has been a record year for Hadassah fund-raising—led by our campaign to build a new medical tower on Hadassah Hospital’s Ein Kerem campus. And one thing I’ve seen over and over from donors is their confidence in Hadassah, not only as an institution of healing but as a fixture of the Jerusalem skyline with a foundation based as much on trust as it is on stone.
Nowadays, our name is known not only in America and Israel but around the world. One reason is the prominence of Hadassah medical personnel in outreach projects and disaster relief. Another is Hadassah International, which has a presence in 25 countries. But the easiest way to appreciate the globalization of Hadassah’s name is simply to observe that we have perhaps the only medical center in the world that is a tourist destination.
Every day they come—individuals, groups and missions—not only to see the Chagall windows but also to pay homage to an oasis of peace. A selective list from just a few pages in our 2007 guest book shows Scandinavian journalists, European specialists in responding to terrorism, Angolan police officers, Japanese business leaders, dozens of members of the United States Congress, and doctors, nurses and teachers from all over the world. It’s no surprise the list also includes a delegation of Israeli tour guides. If the growing demand for Hadassah missions is any indication, our guest book will soon look like an encyclopedia.
The vitality of Hadassah and the power of our name arise from the Jewish obligation to repair the world. A century ago, Mark Twain observed that the Jewish people have made contributions to humankind “extravagantly out of proportion to the smallness of their number…and they have done it with their hands tied.”
But some things are resistant to change, and Hadassah is involved in the ongoing struggle to keep our enemies from tying our hands—and impugning our name. Over the summer, we were active in circulating a petition condemning the British academic boycott of Israel. In September, a group of British parliamentarians visited Hadassah Hospital as part of an antiboycott solidarity mission.
With Israel’s booming economy and Hadassah’s continued growth, our reputation is likely to spread even further. The proverb is about the value of a good name, but it’s also about priorities. When you choose to make a good name, you enrich and strengthen the world around you.