Inside Hadassah: Recognizing Outstanding Achievements
As the seasons change, the words of Hayyim Nahman Bialik (1873-1934) come to mind: “Summer is waning from the gold and from the copper/ and violet/ of leaf fall in gardens….” a As we leave summer behind, we are inspired by women who have brought Hadassah recognition and honor in the United States and Israel. Some—such as the scientist germinating ancient seeds on Kibbutz Ketura—continue their work. And there is the renowned Hadassah leader and beloved wife, mother and grandmother, who was taken from us far too soon. This is a season to remember and to renew.
—Ruth G. Cole
Racking Up the Prizes
Hadassah has always set high standards for itself, and the rest of the world has been taking notice. In the past few months, several Hadassah departments have received awards and recognition for their achievements.
Hadassah Magazine won seven Simon Rockower Awards for Excellence in Jewish Journalism for 2007, presented in June at the National Jewish Press Association’s annual conference. First-place winners were Esther Hecht’s “Graffiti” (March 2007), in the category of Arts and Criticism, and “The Invisible Literati” by Shoshana London Sappir (April 2007), which won the Nefesh B’Nefesh Award for the Story of Aliya.
The magazine was awarded second place in overall excellence in graphic design and excellence in illustration by contributing artists.
Evelyn Fisher Solomonov’s “The Worst Knock of All” (August/September 2007) was awarded second place in the category of personal essays; third-place winner in that category was David Weiss’s “Pay It Forward” (June/July 2007). Rachel Pomerance’s profile of Michael Chabon (October 2007) was awarded second place for the David Frank Award for Excellence in Personality Profile.
The Hadassah Jewish Family Book of Health and Wellness was a finalist in the 57th Annual National Jewish Book Awards in the reference category. The book was coedited by Dale L. Mintz, Hadassah’s national director of corporate and foundation relations, Robin Berman and Arthur Kurzweil.
Hadassah’s video department won five Telly Awards this year. The Telly Awards honor the best local, regional and cable television and online commercials and programs as well as the finest video and film productions. This is the second year the video department received recognition.
In the category of Internet/Online Programs, Segments or Promotional Pieces (nonprofit), the silver award went to Nancy Falchuk’s podcast “Tales of Ancient Stones: Hadassah in Jerusalem.” The bronze award in that category went to Falchuk’s first podcast. (Check out the podcasts atwww.hadassah.org/podcast.) Hadassah was also presented with three more bronze awards in the category of Non-Broadcast Productions (fund-raising) for the opening video for the 2007 national convention, “Now Is the Time”; “Cornerstone Mission Diary”; and the “Young Judaea: You and I” donor video.
Ethan Jacobs was killed last year in a drive-by shooting in Memphis. The 31-year-old man was the son of Hadassah member Cathie Jacobs and the grandson of member Millie Malkin. To honor his memory and express outrage at the violence of his death, the Memphis chapter of Hadassah created an anti-crime committee, which was recently recognized by the Shelby County, Tennessee, Justice Department for its work to educate the community about crime and its prevention.
“Instead of asking why this terrible tragedy happened,” Jacobs explained, “we asked what can we do to make our home, our community and our world a better place for all of us to live.”
Over the past year, the committee sponsored three forums on crime, each of which drew a crowd of nearly 300.
“Our goals were to educate, motivate and activate,” said Jacobs, with each of the forums addressing one of those goals. Following the third forum, in February, 40 people traveled by bus to Nashville to meet with legislators to encourage them to support measures that would keep violent criminals off the streets.
The Hadassah committee was honored at the 14th Annual Victims’ Rights Dinner in April, sponsored by Memphis Mayor A.C. Wharton, Sheriff Mark Luttrell, United States Attorney David Kustoff and District Attorney General Bill Gibbons.!
France’s first lady, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, visited Hadassah’s Ein Kerem campus during a three-day trip to Israel with her husband, French President Nicolas Sarkozy, in June.
Hadassah Medical Center’s director general, Dr. Shlomo Mor-Yosef, and Dr. Sydney Ohana, president of Hadassah France, accompanied the former model on a tour of the hospital’s pediatric hemato-oncology unit.
A Dated Discovery
The oldest seed ever germinated was grown by a team of researchers led by Dr. Sarah Sallon (right), director of Hadassah Medical Organization’s Louis L. Borick Natural Medicine Research Center. The team’s findings were published in June in the prestigious Science magazine.
The 2,000-year-old date seed was discovered in 1973 by archaeologist Yigal Yadin during excavations at Masada, the palace fortress built by King Herod near the Dead Sea. Dr. Sallon’s team acquired it from Bar-Ilan University in Ramat Gan. The seed was planted in January 2005 and the germination was supervised by horticulturalist Elaine Solowey, an expert in desert agriculture and a professor at the Arava Institute of the Environment at Kibbutz Ketura.
This ancient Judean date is of particular importance to the program of the NMRC, which aims to conserve, develop and research the legacy of medicinal plants in Israel. Long since extinct, the Judean date was known for both its succulence and its healing properties; it was used to treat a wide variety of physical conditions, from infections to infertility.
“Our next stage will be to grow more dates in the hope of better understanding their genetics and possibly breeding the ancient Judean date as a modern one,” said Dr. Sallon. “We need to reintroduce ancient crops and plants that once flourished in this region….
“As much as Hadassah is involved in the most modern medical technologies,” she added, “it also promotes our desire to discover new cures for diseases [using] ancient sources.”
June Walker: In Memoriam
All Hadassah mourns the passing of June Walker, who died on July 28.
As Hadassah’s national president from 2003 to 2007, Walker led the organization’s advocacy campaign for stem-cell research. It was during her presidency that the Judy and Sidney Swartz Center for Emergency Medicine and the Judaean Youth Hostel were added to Hadassah’s Jerusalem landscape.
Though she battled cancer for much of her tenure, she displayed an energy and determination that inspired all who met her. In September 2003, in the first Hadassah Magazinecolumn she wrote as Hadassah’s president, Walker expressed a personal prayer: “I ask the Creator for the strength and inspiration to do my job.”
After completing her presidential term, she undertook one more challenge: In 2007, she became chair of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. She was the first former Hadassah president and the second woman to fill that post.
Less than two weeks before her death, Walker appeared resilient at the 2008 Hadassah national convention in Los Angeles, where she presented the Henrietta Szold Award—Hadassah’s highest honor—to Israeli industrialist Stef Wertheimer.
June once said that Hadassah embodied everything she was interested in: Israel, women’s empowerment, Judaism, education, medicine and Zionism,” observed current Hadassah president Nancy Falchuk. “But June personified values that Hadassah stands for: pride, dedication and spirit enhanced by her own personal grit.”
Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Presidents’ Conference, eulogized Walker as a “great partner.”
“Her love of Israel and its people was evident in everything she did and said,” Hoenlein remarked. “Her joy on receiving an honorary doctorate from Haifa University in June 2008 was indescribable.”
With a background in chemistry, respiratory therapy and public health administration, Walker served on the Hadassah Medical Organization’s board of directors for six years. She also served Hadassah as treasurer, chair of the Hadassah College of Technology (now Hadassah College Jerusalem) and chair of the American Affairs/Domestic Affairs Department.
One project she did not live to see to completion is the June Walker Education Center at the Meir Shfeya Youth Aliyah Village, south of Haifa. Though the village’s curriculum originally focused on agriculture, the new center reflects the changing needs of Israel’s economy with an educational emphasis on science. The project reflects Walker’s deep interest in education and youth.
Born in the Bronx, Walker was the first woman in her family to receive a university education. As an adult, she adroitly balanced family, career and volunteer work. While still a full-time professional, she served as a Hadassah region president. In the years she served as national president, she often spoke of her work in Hadassah as a means of creating a better Jewish world for her family.
“This past year,” recalled Falchuk, “she brought her entire family to Israel so they could experience firsthand the work she put into several programs and to show them her personal and professional pride in all Hadassah had achieved.” Walker is survived by her husband, Barrett, three children and six grandchildren.
June Walker was a dedicated Zionist, a rare leader and a model of strength and courage. May her memory be for a blessing.