President’s Column: The Small Picture
if Hadassah is part of your life, then surely you have an appreciation for all of our accomplishments. But if you are like me, sometimes you get so focused on the goal that you lose sight of the small picture, the essential pieces of how we do what we do.
I’m talking about those thousands of daily actions by volunteers that add up to a patient in Israel being treated or saved, a student educated, a park with handicap access built, a program to serve people in need initiated. I’m talking about the words and individual decisions of women in America that take people half a world away out of threatening situations and put them in safe environments.
I’m talking about how so many women fit Hadassah into their lives, harness the desire to do good work and, in the end, make a difference in the world.
We touch people one by one by one. And it is one-at-a-time actions, choices and sacrifices on the part of each one of you that makes Hadassah what it is. But unlike laws and sausages—which Bismarck famously said should not be seen while they are being made—the day-to-day work of Hadassah is an inspiration to behold.
Hadassah’s hospitals, Hadassah College Jerusalem, Youth Aliyah, Young Judaea and our membership structure all strengthen the Jewish people and Israel. Beyond our projects, our influence in defending Israel and promoting causes from stem cell research to women’s health to literacy—to cite just a few examples—likewise grows out of all those individual commitments.
As Hadassah’s president I may be called on to make decisions, but any power I exercise ultimately comes from our educated membership that believes so passionately in our mission and backs up that passion with time, energy and financial support. You, the volunteers, empower yourselves, your leaders and this great organization.
There’s one more piece to the Hadassah puzzle. Many organizations channel the energy of dedicated people but at some point find that their goal is unrealistic. Others may realize that their mission is fulfilled and they must move on. If we had set out only to midwife the birth of a Jewish state, we could have rested on our laurels in 1948. Our aim, however, is to constantly improve the Zionist enterprise and to build ourselves in the process.
The Israel of 2009 is not the Israel of 1948. Few organizations that were present at the creation can match Hadassah’s distinction: Our mission is still relevant. We bring the American Jewish community together and also attract friends around the world in connecting to Israel.
More than 60 years after Israel’s independence, Hadassah is recognized as a pioneer in medical treatment and research, in education and child rescue. Our institutions are a magnet for Jerusalem and we are the city’s largest nongovernmental employer. We are always in motion, changing the face of the Jewish state. In just the past few months, we’ve made headlines for our efforts to address Israel’s nursing shortage, our program to improve the medical infrastructure for treating casualties of battle and terrorism and our services that attract medical tourism.
Nearly a century after we started building a nation, Hadassah is the strongest link in the Israel-diaspora relationship. Some in our community may have lost their connection, but Hadassah remains committed, not only to building an ethical society in Israel but also to demanding that it be judged by the same standards applied to any other nation.
Zionism was the most successful revolutionary movement of the 20th century, but many of the pillars that once supported the movement have faded from view.
Hadassah is here for the long haul. We have survived the success of Zionism and are still at work. The big picture of what we do is spectacular. But don’t miss the beauty in a single brush stroke—a single action of yours—that helps create the big picture. H
To share your favorite examples of “the small picture” with Nancy Falchuk, firstname.lastname@example.org.