Inside Hadassah Women United; Young People Who Care
For example, Hadassah-Brandeis Institute’s e-zine explores topics of common interest to Jewish women. Hadassah College Jerusalem is reaching out to encourage young women to pursue high-tech careers. Merkaz Hamagshimim-Hadassah welcomes socially minded newcomers to Israel. Our Young Judaea campers, too, reach out by performing volunteer service.
At all levels, Hadassah truly strengthens our connections.
—Ruth G. Cole
Working With Women
Only 19 of the 51 people in the freshman computer science class at Hadassah College Jerusalem are women. Addressing the need to attract more women to the traditionally male-dominated field, HCJ has begun an initiative designed to encourage women to pursue careers in high technology. The female freshmen have been given academic scholarships and will be offered a special program throughout their three years of studies, including classes in entrepreneurship and team-building, for example, as well as an introduction to a variety of opportunities in the industry.
“To study computer science requires a hectic schedule and many hours of work,” says HCJ President Nava Ben-Zvi. “Many [students] could not do it without help. We are working together with these women and providing support.”
These 19 freshmen (13 in photo above) are highly qualified and motivated and come from all over Israel. Included in the group are two sets of twins—one set made aliya from Iran and the other from the Former Soviet Union.
According to Ben-Zvi, women are an asset to the high-tech field, and their unique contributions are apparent in the classroom as well. “The head of the department, Professor Shlomo Kipnis, has told me how the girls in the class make the study more workable,” she reports. “They tend to be more orderly, more community oriented, and they view the systems in a more holistic way.”
A Healing Potential
Physicians at the Hadassah Medical Organization have made a discovery that may offer new hope for patients suffering from neurological diseases such as multiple sclerosis and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s disease).
The doctors have successfully removed stem cells from patients’ bone marrow, isolated the cells under special conditions and generated new cells from them. The treatment is still in the research stage and has been tested on some 25 people.
“Most of the patients who underwent this process report an improvement in their condition,” reported Dmitrius Karussis, an HMO neurologist and the director of its new Multiple Sclerosis Center, who conducted the research.
While the work is promising thus far, it is too early to predict if and how it might be used in the long run. “We are optimistic,” Dr. Karussis told The Jerusalem Post.
614: A Deeper Look
The Hadassah-Brandeis Institute’s e-zine, 614, recently celebrated its first anniversary. The online magazine explores topics of interest to Jewish women and has become a forum for discussion as well (www.brandeis.edu/hbi/614).
“One of the things we learned in that first year was that if we really wanted to spark conversation, we had to open up the e-zine to our readers in addition to sharing various perspectives on any one issue,” says Michelle Cove, 614’s editor-in-chief.
Contributors present varying viewpoints, and after each article there is room for readers to post their responses and thoughts on the subjects.
“The posts are quite insightful,” notes Cove.
The current issue of 614, available online until mid-March, is devoted to the question “Is JDate Shaking Up Judaism?” 614 has partnered with JDate for this unique and in-depth look at the impact of the popular Jewish dating site (www.jdate.com) on the Jewish world.
“We’re looking at how JDate, which has 400,000 members in the U.S., is changing how Jewish singles think about their Jewish identity as well as the Jewish community,” Cove explains.
The e-zine has thus far proven it is willing to tackle a wide range of hot topics, dedicating issues to subjects ranging from egg donation to the Jewish take on beauty.
Tikkun Olam…at Camp
Children at Jewish camps swim, hike and celebrate Shabbat. But they may also change the world.
Camp Young Judaea Sprout Lake, for youngsters in 2nd through 8th grades from the Northeastern United States, combines the mainstays of Jewish camping with a program dubbed Making a Difference in My Own Way.
MADIMOW is a summer-long curriculum meant to inspire and empower campers to take on social-action causes. Each age group focuses on one theme for the session, such as caring for the elderly or helping the homeless and hungry, and then takes a trip outside camp for a day of volunteering. In past summers, projects have included visits to a nursing home, working in a soup kitchen and participating in a grocery store food drive.
While playing ball and making lasting friendships, these youngsters also learn how much each of them can do to improve the world around them.
Registration for Camp Young Judaea Sprout Lake is now open for summer 2008 (www.cyjsl.org; 212-451-6233). Ask about New Camper Incentive grants for children who have never attended a Jewish camp.
It seems that some women manage to fit everything in. Andrea Roberts (left) owns a successful business, travels the world, cites family as her first priority—and still finds time for Hadassah.
In addition to being a past copresident of San Diego’s Bat Harim Group, part of Hadassah’s Southern California region (310-248-4844; www.hadassahsc.org), Roberts is president of her own advertising agency, A.R. Marketing, Inc. She started the company nine years ago and now travels around the world to work with her clients—engineering companies in electronics, semiconductor and other technology-based industries. Her husband, Dick, joined her in the business when it grew to be too much for one person to handle.
Roberts first became involved with Hadassah at a new-membership tea 10 years ago. “At the time, I didn’t fully understand the tremendous humanitarian impact of Hadassah and its causes,” she said, “but I was impressed by the community of Jewish women who welcomed me so warmly.” As a newcomer to Southern California, Hadassah gave Roberts a sense of belonging and a focal point for her Jewish identity.
“I have found that taking time for Hadassah has actually given my life more balance and enjoyment,” she added. “It makes me feel I am giving back….”
A Home Far Away From Home
Apartment hunting is always difficult, but it can seem nearly impossible for someone in an unfamiliar city, trying to get by in a foreign language. This was the experience of Dave Flagler and Yahm Reichart, two young people who recently moved to Israel from the United States. a Both Flagler and Reichart now live at Merkaz Hamagshimim-Hadassah (below), a combined absorption and community center for English-speaking adults, ages 19 to 35 (www.themerkaz.org).
The Templar mansion that houses “the Merkaz” is located in Jerusalem’s German Colony. The 25 studio apartments are rented for up to a year to new olim or people considering aliya. “We have residents from the U.S., the U.K., New Zealand, South Africa, France, Holland [and] Argentina,” says Merkaz director Adi Rom.
Though her parents are Israeli, Reichart, 21, grew up in Los Angeles. She had wanted to immerse herself in Israeli society immediately, but she finds it comforting to live among peers sharing similar aliya experiences. “Being away from the culture I grew up in and away from all of my friends, it’s really important to have people around you who know what you’re going through,” she notes.
Until about 10 years ago, former young judaeans who made aliya could rent Hadassah apartments in Jerusalem. In 1997, Keith Berman—then director of Hamagshimim (Young Judaea’s post-high school arm, renamed YJ Impact) and now director of Year Course—proposed that Hadassah open a facility that could offer more than just housing to new olim.
Berman’s dream of gathering young newcomers to Israel around common interests and concerns has become a reality. The Merkaz hosts a variety of events and activities. Its drama group, Center Stage Theater, boasts nearly 100 volunteers who collaborate on several productions each year, attracting over 1,500 to its shows. A few months ago, Flagler coordinated an acoustic Beit Café Night. Reichart helps organize the Merkaz’s Kevutzat Nashim, a women’s group that meets bimonthly.
The Merkaz also runs a center for social action. Its Aliya Information Center helps olim before, during and after the immigration process. Last year, its Job and Aliya Expo drew more than 400 people.
The advice and networking provided at the Merkaz proved invaluable to Flagler. “The aliya adviser helped me search job sites in Hebrew while the rest of the staff always lent a listening ear, offered ideas and passed on my résumé to their friends and associates,” he recalls.
The center’s Solidarity program gives support to lone soldiers—foreigners without parents in the country—in the Israel Defense Forces. People from the center help over 200 such soldiers, attending their ceremonies and sending them care packages.
Finally, the Merkaz provides a platform for people to get involved in activism, according to Deena Fiedelman, director of the center for social action. “We provide the resources, tools, connections, and the individuals lead the project,” she says. For example, a group demonstrated to raise awareness of sex trafficking, and two concerts have raised money for Darfur refugees.
The Merkaz’s model has been so successful that today there is a branch in Tel Aviv—called Shekhuna, neighborhood.
“Moving to Israel is a long, hard, arduous but rewarding process,” Flagler says. “The Merkaz has really been there for me every step of the way.”