President’s Column: The Sun Never Sets
Once upon a time, Hadassah was a two-way street between Israel and America. But in a world of infinite connections, we have gone global. When hostile groups in Britain tried to impose anti-Israel boycotts last year, Hadassah United Kingdom helped arrange a visit of British parliamentarians to Hadassah Hospital. “Watching Palestinian and Israeli doctors side by side… reaffirms our belief that any effort to boycott Israeli academics or doctors is completely misplaced,” said Member of Parliament Barbara Keeley after the visit.
Civic leaders in Melbourne, Australia, wanted to upgrade resources for treating mass casualties from terrorism and natural disasters. With the aid of Hadassah Melbourne, the city’s Alfred Hospital signed an agreement to exchange knowledge and expertise with our hospitals. A conference of latin american medical professionals identified a need for improved nursing services.
As a result, Hadassah units in Mexico, Venezuela, Peru, Brazil and Argentina brought nurses from our Jerusalem hospitals to conduct a series of symposia. After Yasuhiko Abe saw his mother suffer and die from breast cancer, he decided to create the first hospice in Japan. He studied institutions in America and Britain but ultimately chose the Ina and Jack Kay Hospice at Hadassah Hospital as his model. He said he was impressed by its “compassionate care plus clinical expertise.” There are dozens of similar stories of how Hadassah International, which celebrates its 25th anniversary this year, has created medical partnerships, raised our profile and shown Israel’s humanitarian face to the world.
These are important goals in the United States, where Israel is widely admired. But imagine how much more crucial they are in countries where the Jewish state is often reviled. It was in 1983, long before “globalization” became an international buzzword, that former National President Bernice T. Tannenbaum launched Hadassah International. Now located in 26 countries on 6 continents, our international arm has succeeded beyond our expectations. Hadassah International reaches out to men and women of all faiths who want to build bridges to Israel through medicine.
Our hospitals are sustained in many ways by our global volunteers. Major gifts to the Center for Children with Chronic Diseases came from Hadassah France and Hadassah Brazil. We have a rehabilitation pool donated by Hadassah Greece. Clowns who bring joy to hospitalized children are funded by Hadassah Switzerland. Last year, Hadassah Panama raised $1.6 million for the new Sarah Wetsman Davidson Tower rising on our Ein Kerem campus. Like Hadassah in America, Hadassah International enriches the volunteers who are attracted to it as much as it enhances our medical reputation. In the 1980s, for example, it launched Young Hadassah International for twentysomethings, many of whom were beginning financial careers in Britain, France and Argentina
Two decades later, some of those young people have moved around the world and into leading positions in international banking—while maintaining their Hadassah connections. The result of their network has been Hadassah programs and initiatives in places as far-flung as China and Uganda. The Zionist movement gave us a sense of the worldwide Jewish family acting in unity, and Hadassah International has given us our own community to match the global movement of Jewish renaissance.
When I look at pins representing our groups on a world map, I am struck by how big Hadassah has become. But when I sit with an international group of colleagues, I also see that the world is small enough that I can walk into a meeting in Cuba or Portugal, in Turkey or New Zealand and be surrounded by people who care about the same things I do. Hadassah International has become an integral part of the Hadassah movement, a great asset to Israel and a key player in the sharing of medical expertise for the good of humankind. I urge all of you to get to know more about our global family
Once upon a time, Hadassah was about American Jewish women. Today, we are the world.