President’s Column: The Power of One
When Israel’s trade relations with China first began to surge, many Israeli entrepreneurs told variations of the same joke: “If every person in China bought just one microchip (or one orange, or one falafel), think what that would do for our revenues.”
The Jewish people may envy the numbers of a large nation. But if our history is full of chapters in which our small numbers worked against us, I also believe it has offered advantages. More than other peoples, our size and experience have sharpened us, made us adapt and taught us the power of one.
Certainly the disproportionate influence of the Jewish people and of individual Jews on the history, philosophy and imagination of much of the world demonstrates that small numbers can be magnified by great deeds.
Every Jewish generation has carried heavy responsibilities. Some of the challenges we face today are familiar: The existential threat that Iran’s nuclear ambitions pose for Israel may involve a new villain, but the threat itself is a bad rerun. Other challenges are newer, such as the rampant assimilation that comes from so many of the world’s Jews living in free and welcoming societies.
Many jewish institutions and organizations face problems because of the current economic downturn. But the challenge that Hadassah faces may be unique. Our membership and fund-raising base is in America, but most of our projects are in Israel, where the shekel is soaring in value against the dollar.
The dilemma is ironic. When did we ever imagine that a strong Israeli currency would be anything but a source of pride? But if Israel’s robust economy brings us joy akin to a wedding, the exchange rate is our broken glass.
This challenge is part of the constant rhythm of change that is a feature of the modern world. Whatever economic, political or technological reality we adapt to is temporary. Part of the solution is efficiency. We need to be as attuned to best business practices as we are to our mission and our vision for the future. But we also need to tap into the passion we feel for our mission—our love of Israel, our role in shaping Jewish destiny—and translate it into more members, and more dollars.
To meet this challenge, I propose we leverage our numbers and act like the Chinese. If every life member and associate of Hadassah voluntarily pledged an additional $100—the cost of dinner for two at a nice restaurant—that would add $30 million to Hadassah’s income. (See below)
If every Hadassah member, whether life or annual, brought in just one new member—friend, neighbor, sister-in-law, daughter—that would swell our ranks to 600,000. (See below)
It would also demonstrate, to the world and to ourselves, that Hadassah is still investing in the future.
We need increased womanpower to sustain and accelerate our future-oriented projects, like the Sarah Wetsman Davidson Tower of healing we are building in Jerusalem, like fighting assimilation through Young Judaea and in coalitions with programs like Birthright Israel.
We need increased resources to keep producing leaders through our local chapters and groups and through the Hadassah Leadership Academy.
Perhaps Jewish vitality, and a legacy of small numbers, is reflected in our celebration of the year not in January, or in the spring, but just as daylight begins to wane. As the air turns cold, as much of nature prepares either to hibernate or migrate, we renew ourselves.
At this time of rededication, I call on each and every member of Hadassah to harness the power of one within and move this great organization forward. It will be hard work, but we’ve done that before. And the compensation will be great. The result of our efforts will be a more vital Hadassah, a more vibrant American Jewish community and a stronger, healthier and better-educated Israel.
I am asking you to act today by going to the Hadassah Web site,www.hadassah.org, or by calling 1-866-229-2395. The power of one act can be mighty.
May we all work together to make our numbers count and increase. And may all have a wonderful New Year!