Inside Hadassah: Sharing Values and Ideas
Summer breezes are wafting our way, signaling opportunities to shift gears and even dream a bit. We reflect on how Henrietta Szold’s vision of women meeting challenges as Jews and Zionists is being realized in so many exciting ways: a bat mitzva project brings warmth to infants in Israel, and a documentary builds community for Jews in rural areas. Young women are taking on leadership roles and helping Hadassah reach new heights. We salute your creativity and achievements!
I hope to see you at Hadassah Magazine’s Ribalow forum on July 13 at the national convention.
—Ruth G. Cole
A President, A Speaker, Hadassah
Hadassah was busy during Israel’s 60th birthday celebrations in May. As a natural bridge between the United States and Israel, Hadassah was at the center of visits by American dignitaries from President George W. Bush to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Speaker Pelosi visited the Hadassah Medical Center together with a bipartisan congressional delegation to Israel on May 19. Hadassah National President Nancy Falchuk led the tour of the Ein Kerem campus, showing delegates examples of Hadassah’s emergency preparedness measures. The visitors met hospital staff and patients and witnessed the hospital’s world-class medical care for all people, despite religious, racial or ethnic background.
“You are truly a bridge to peace,” Pelosi commented during the visit. “You treat [all patients] not because they are Jewish, but because you are Jewish.” She added, “It is a meeting of Jewish values and scientific excellence.”
Speaking to the press after the tour, Pelosi commended the creation of the State of Israel as one of the greatest achievements of the 20th century. “We pay tribute to the many people who, with pioneering spirits, brave determination and a deep commitment, made the modern State of Israel a reality,” she said.
The 13-member delegation traveling with Pelosi included House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer; Republican Conference Chair Adam Putnam; Oversight and Government Reform Chair Henry Waxman; Foreign Affairs Committee member Rep. Ron Klein; Chair of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe Alcee Hastings; and Appropriations Foreign Operations Subcommittee Chair Nita Lowey.
The group’s first stop in Israel was at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Martyrs’ and Remembrance Authority in Jerusalem. Pelosi’s delegation also met with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, President Shimon Peres, Knesset Speaker Dalia Itzik as well as other top ministers.
While in the Middle East, Pelosi also traveled to Iraq for a day to meet with leaders there.
Hadassah’s president, Falchuk, was also part of President Bush’s honorary delegation to Israel to participate in various ceremonies and festivities in Jerusalem on May 14 and 15. Among the dignitaries and Jewish community leaders were June Walker, immediate past president of Hadassah and chair of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, and Governor Linda Lingle of Hawaii, a dedicated Hadassah life member.
During President Bush’s visit to Israel, he chatted with three Young Judaea Year Course participants who were volunteering at the Masada archaeological site when the president visited with Olmert. “Bush motioned us to come over, met us half way and said, ‘Hey guys, what’s going on?’” Jeremy Jacobson told Ha’aretznewspaper.
“He was very interested to know what we were doing here,” said Rafi Schrear from San Diego. “We told him about Year Course…. He was very impressed that a program like this exists and that we were able to work on Masada.” The young men had the opportunity to pose for a photo with Bush and Olmert as well.
A Patchwork Mitzva
Lager began quilting in the third grade at an afterschool program at the Solomon Schechter School of Westchester in White Plains, New York; she is currently in the seventh grade there.
“My [older] sister had been quilting, and I had always done what she had done,” Lager explains about how she first took up the craft. “She looked like she was having so much fun doing it.”
It took Lager about four months to complete the 10 colorful quilts. “I worked a long time on them,” she recalls. Most of the quilting is done by machine, though some parts must be done by hand.
Lager has sold several of her creations as baby gifts and does not rule out the possibility of one day taking her quilting more seriously, though she insists, “Right now, it’s just a hobby.”
Men With a Mission
Join the Hadassah Associates Mission to Israel from October 23 to November 2 this year. Led by Howard Kaplan, president of the Associates, this trip promises to be both fun and educational. Meet with leading politicians who are shaping the modern State of Israel; experience a security briefing along the country’s northern borders with Syria and Lebanon; visit Israel Defense Forces soldiers; and tour the Tefen Industrial Park to learn about some of the country’s leading industries. What better way to celebrate Israel’s 60th birthday!
For further information, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 800-237-1517.
Hadassah at the U.N.
In March, Hadassah cosponsored a workshop at the United Nations for the 52nd session of the Commission on the Status of Women.
Hadassah’s Department of Women’s Health collaborated with the United Nations nongovernmental organizations’ Committee on Health, Soroptimist International and the International Humanist and Ethical Union to present “What You Should Know About Cervical Cancer and the Human Papilloma Virus.”
Over 70 people from around the world attended the session and heard presentations by Dr. Thomas C. Wright, Jr., professor of pathology at Columbia University Medical Center in New York, and Dr. Ruanne Barnabas, research fellow at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center in Seattle. The noted speakers informed participants about the economic and social impacts of HPV and cervical cancer, particularly on the developing world, and discussed the potential of the HPV vaccine to reduce the worldwide incidence of cervical cancer.
Do you have sons, daughters or grandchildren studying or working abroad, or know of young adults living overseas? If they are in Argentina, Austria, France, Germany, Hungary, Israel, Italy, New Zealand, the Netherlands or the United Kingdom, Young Hadassah International would love to meet them. This dynamic group of young men and women of all faiths from around the world are united by Hadassah, and fun and inspiration are always in large supply. Contact email@example.com.
Hadassah Magazine was a merit winner in The Society of Publication Designers’ 43rd Annual Competition. The winning entry was Jason Eskenazi’s photoessay in “Jewish High Society” (January issue), chosen from among 7,000 submissions.
Creating a Community
While many American Jews take for granted the convenience of a kosher aisle in nearly every major supermarket, in some parts of the country, such amenities are unheard of.
“It is difficult to maintain a Jewish home where there is no place even to find candles for the Sabbath,” says Elizabeth DePoy, a professor at the University of Maine in Orono who lives with her husband in a rural area outside of Bangor.
DePoy and her colleague, Laura Lindenfeld, often discussed the difficulty of being Jewish in a region with limited Jewish resources and community. Together, they conceived of the “Latke Project: Living Jewish Among Neighbors Who Never Heard of Latkes.”
The educational program has received a 2008 grant from the Hadassah Foundation for its planning phase, which will include a documentary film and companion materials highlighting the experiences and struggles of Jewish girls and women living in small towns in Maine as well as other remote areas across the country.
According to DePoy, the goal of the film project is threefold: discovery, community building and sharing the beauty of Jewish life with their neighbors.
“We are excited about the project and look forward to this planning time to iron out details and make the most efficacious action plan for accomplishing our goals,” DePoy adds.
The Hadassah Foundation was established 10 years ago with a $10-million endowment from Hadassah. Thus far, the foundation has distributed more than $4 million in grants for programs in the United States that help adolescent Jewish girls gain self-esteem and leadership skills, and for economic empowerment programs for Israeli women.
Young Women Stepping Up
Young women of today are not the same as young women were even 20 years ago, but their reasons for joining Hadassah are largely the same.
“I got involved…back when I was a new mom,” says Ilene Frost, 42, of Westport, Connecticut. “It was a great social connection…and I became very passionate about the cause when I started to learn more about what Hadassah does.”
Leanne Hall, 29, “got hooked” after participating in a Day on the Hill in Washington, D.C. Both women went on Young Women’s Missions to Israel and are active in their local Hadassah chapters.
Hadassah’s Young Women—up to age 45—are a dynamic bunch with all sorts of programs addressing a variety of interests: Young moms are finding a Jewish social circle in Rochester, New York, while in Dallas, Texas, Hall’s group gathers to learn Israeli martial arts.
This summer, exciting changes are taking place in Hadassah’s Young Women’s department. It is recreating its Israel trip and reinventing its national network as well as launching its new Web site, www.youngwomen.hadassah.org, in July.
“It is a whole different world now,” says Ellen Steinberg, chair of the department. “We are responsive to what the women of today need and want.”
In the early 1990s, hadassah established the National Young Leadership Advisory Council to increase the representation of young women on Region and Big Chapter boards. This month, the new National Young Women’s Network replaces NYLAC.
“We consider [the network] an elite think tank of younger women,” says Steinberg, herself a former NYLAC representative. The network will send young women to all Region and Big Chapter boards and will act as a liaison to communicate the interests of younger women to the national board and every Hadassah department.
“The…network is going to give a voice to young women across the country,” says Hall, who serves as NYWN chair for the Greater Southwest Region. “We’ll be involved in all different aspects [of Hadassah], which in turn will get more young women involved.”
By bringing groups of bright, enthusiastic women to Israel, for the past 12 years the Young Women’s missions have been an incubator for young leaders. While in the past, participants were nominated by national board members, the next mission will be open to anyone who wishes to apply. (Applications will be accepted starting next February.)
Among the outstanding projects spearheaded by young women was Frost’s “Take a Walk, Take a Stand” event in Westport in September, which she co-organized with fellow mission alumna Liz Kaner. The Sunday walk raised over $11,000 for embryonic stem cell research at the Hadassah Hospital in Ein Kerem.
“We wanted to do something local, but also be open to the entire region,” says Kaner. “Stem cell research has broad appeal.”
Both Kaner and Frost hope their program will become an annual event and envision it being replicated in other cities as well.
To find out more about groups and programs for young women in your area, contact 212-303-8108 or firstname.lastname@example.org details.