Inside Hadassah: Great Achievements, Personal and Public
It’s summer—when we have time to reflect on and take pride in many special women and their contributions to Hadassah. What better time to think about how we defend the causes we believe in and how philanthropic dollars can be raised for our institutions and medical research. From France’s first lady to a Jerusalem lawyer, we highlight the important role each woman can play. Enjoy their stories and the season!
—Ruth G. Cole
Hadassah mourns the passing of William Davidson, president of Guardian Industries, owner of the Detroit Pistons basketball team and a generous Hadassah supporter, who passed away on March 13.
“[Davidson’s] commitment to Jerusalem, his family, his work and to his philanthropy was inspiring,” said Hadassah National President Nancy Falchuk. “He will be truly missed by the Detroit community and the Jewish community as a whole.”
In 2007, Davidson and his wife, Karen, donated $75 million, on behalf of Guardian Industries, for the new inpatient tower that is being built at the Hadassah Medical Center in Ein Kerem. The tower will be named in memory of his mother, Sarah Wetsman Davidson.
“Mr. Davidson was proud to be the third generation in his family to support Hadassah’s goals and achievements, and we are proud to be forever linked to his life and his memory,” Falchuk added.
The French Connection
Last year, when France’s first lady, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, visited the children’s ward of Hadassah Hospital’s hemato-oncology department—while visiting Jerusalem with her husband, President Nikolas Sarkozy, on a state visit—she told the hospital’s director general, Dr. Shlomo Mor-Yosef, that she wanted to help.
In March, she made good on her promise when she was the guest of honor at a fund-raiser in Paris for the Hadassah Medical Organization. Bruni-Sarkozy, accompanied by President Sarkozy, attended in her capacity as a goodwill ambassador for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.
The event drew over 400 people and raised about $380,000 for HMO.
Fast Track to Fashion
It has been a successful and exciting inaugural year for the fashion design track of Young Judaea’s Year Course. As part of Year Course’s Arts section (which also includes tracks for visual and performance arts), the eight participants in the track spent the year studying, volunteering and experiencing Israel, while learning the ins and outs of the country’s cutting-edge fashion industry.
“Fashion has always appealed to me, but what mainly interested me was fashion journalism,” explained Hannah Skahill, an 18-year-old from Memphis. “I’ve always loved fashion magazines and writing, and when I came upon the fashion track option for Year Course, it was too good to be true.”
Year Coursers had the opportunity to intern with top designers and take classes and attend workshops at Israel’s premier fashion schools, such as The Guild and Miriam College for Fashion Design, both in Tel Aviv. “In our time here, our track…has learned so much,” Skahill noted. “From the basics of design, sketching and sewing, we have learned about draping, making patterns for clothing, working with leather and so much more.
“I came into the program having no experience in art and having never made a single piece of clothing, and only six months later I [had] two full sketchbooks and a hand-sewn dress to show for myself,” Skahill added proudly.
Still Going Strong
Dr. Bertha Fineberg walks with a quick step, dresses in a sporty fashion, is personable and witty—a real dynamo. Recently, she celebrated her 100th birthday with the Hadassah Hadar chapter in Netanya, Israel. A Hadassah life member, Dr. Fineberg made aliya last year, at the age of 99.
At her birthday celebration, Dr. Fineberg—one of the first Jewish women ophthalmologists in the United States and a mother of three—shared the secrets of her success: “I never recognize obstacles in life. I just concentrate on moving forward.
“I was born in the year Hadassah founder Henrietta Szold made her first visit to Palestine,” Dr. Fineberg continued. “It just took me longer to become a Zionist.”
Dr. Fineberg graduated from Radcliffe College in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1931 and then Boston University Medical School. In 1940, she became one of the first female physicians at the renowned Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary. At age 45, she learned to play the cello, and she celebrated her bat mitzva at 74.
Ran Melamed/Courtesy of YEDID
Professional and Passionate
A Jerusalem lawyer is the winner of the inaugural Bernice S. Tannenbaum Prize, which was established to reward emerging professionals who have demonstrated a high degree of talent, commitment and accomplishment in their work to advance the status of women and girls.
The Hadassah Foundation will present the award to Vardit Dameri Madar (left), director of the legal department at YEDID–The Association for Community Empowerment, at a ceremony on June 15 in New York.
YEDID, a past Hadassah Foundation grant recipient, seeks to promote social and economic justice in Israel through a national network of Citizen Rights Centers in disadvantaged communities. In her six years at YEDID, Madar, a 31-year-old mother of two, has brought dramatic changes to the way YEDID approached its role in the legal community. “She saw the work that she was doing not purely as legal work but in the wider context of an opportunity to empower the disempowered,” said Sari Revkin, executive director of YEDID, in her nomination letter. “Vardit is a unique mix of passion and professionalism, not merely taking on a case because of an injustice, but because there is a solid legal basis to win.”
Tannenbaum, a past national president of Hadassah, is now an honorary vice president and a member of the national board who serves as the liason to the Hadassah Foundation. This prize honors her lifetime of service to the Jewish people, the State of Israel and Hadassah. The prize was made possible by the generous support of Joan and Leonard Leiman and Nancy Berman and Alan Bloch.
In Washington, Hadassah Means Action
With almost 300,000 members and Associates across the United States, Hadassah’s voice is heard in Washington and its presence is sought at important events, too. a In February, the White House’s acting Jewish community liaison, Danielle Borrin, contacted Marla Gilson of Hadassah’s Washington Action Office, offering tickets to the February 10 town hall meeting with President Obama in Fort Myers, Florida. Gilson set the Hadassah wheels in motion, and with the help of Nancy Wiadro, a national board member in Florida, they quickly organized a delegation to attend the meeting.
“Borrin…considered Hadassah the ‘go to’ organization when asked to coordinate President Obama’s visit to southwest Florida,” said Sharon Sisselsky, president of the Florida Central Region, who traveled from Orlando to the meeting. “She knows that we deliver.”
Thanks to its Washington connections, Hadassah was also able to offer tickets to key Jewish community leaders in Lee and Collier counties. In addition to Hadassah region and chapter presidents and past presidents, leaders of both the Collier County and Lee County Jewish Federations, the Jewish Family Services and local synagogue presidents were also invited—virtually all of whom are Hadassah members or Associates.
“The rest of the Jewish community found new respect for our image and mission,” noted Pennie MacIntyre, copresident of the Lee County Chaverot Chapter.
Hadassah representatives were also invited to Washington, D.C., in March to celebrate President Obama’s executive order reversing a federal funding ban on human embryonic stem cell research—a cause for which Hadassah has been advocating for over a decade.
Gilson was present at the signing ceremony, together with members of Congress, scientists and other lobbyists. Gilson congratulated Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) on the occasion. “Well, thank you to Hadassah for all the research you have been doing over the years,” Pelosi responded.
Hadassah’s Washington Action Office chair, Sheila Lebowitz, and American Affairs and Domestic Policy chair, Sandy Goldstein, joined Gilson at the Coalition for the Advancement of Medical Research reception following the ceremony.
“We wholeheartedly thank President Obama for his action on this important issue,” Hadassah National President Nancy Falchuk said in a statement that day. “Those suffering from debilitating diseases and disorders for which stem cell research holds great promise now have a renewed sense of hope, and we are optimistic for the future of embryonic stem cell research.
“Furthermore, we urge the members of the 111th Congress to continue working on this issue and to move toward making federal funds completely accessible for embryonic stem cell research,” she added. H