President’s Column: Your Mission
In the beginning, most of Hadassah’s members across America were passionately dedicated to building a nation on the other side of the world that they would likely never see with their own eyes. Between 1912 and 1948, it was such women, working on faith, who built the medical infrastructure and much of the educational foundation for the future State of Israel.
With increasing prosperity and improved transportation, eventually it became possible for larger numbers of our members to aspire to visiting Israel and to see the work of their hands. But for most it would be a once-in-a-lifetime journey.
We are privileged to live in a time when world travel is routine. Many of you have been to Israel multiple times, touring the country, seeing historic and spiritual sights as well as getting to know the modern Jewish nation. Some of us practically shuttle back and forth, becoming familiar with the country intimately, or visiting children, grandchildren, family members or friends who are in the country temporarily or permanently.
Hadassah has responded to the accessibility of Israel by making the voyage easier still. We are now running more than one mission a month, with itineraries custom designed to meet a wide variety of needs—family missions during the summer and winter coincide with school vacations; tours of different durations; trips with an option for holding a bar or bat mitzva in the Abell Synagogue at the Hadassah Medical Center, surrounded by the Chagall windows; and specialty missions like the ones that cater to medical professionals.
Our newest mission is the first of its kind for Hadassah. Israel emerged from various conditions of Jewish history: 2,000 years of exile, persecution and discrimination in many nations and a yearning for home. In March 2014, we are launching a program that tugs at these different roots—a Hadassah mission to Poland, once home to the largest Jewish population in the world.
The seven-day tour itinerary includes stops in Warsaw, Lodz, Lublin and Krakow, with visits to synagogues, museums, neighborhoods and ghetto sites as well as the death camps where so many Jews died—not just from Poland but from all over Europe.
This particular Hadassah mission does not visit Israel. Instead, a part of Israel—and an important part of Hadassah—will visit the mission participants. Every year, students from Hadassah’s Youth Aliyah villages and centers go on Jewish heritage tour to Poland. It’s a way for the Israeli youngsters, especially those from non-European backgrounds who may have no family context of the Holocaust, to learn about the Shoah as an event that had an impact on the entire Jewish people.
These two missions—of American adults and of Israeli youth—will meet in Poland, bringing together living witnesses from the two communities that are today the pillars of modern Jewish life.
Most Jewish tours to Poland are rooted in memory, but Hadassah’s twin missions make sure the past is accompanied by present and future. If Poland is part of modern Israel’s historic context, so are the Jewish renaissance in America and the existence of a flourishing Israel—the sequel to those memorial sites in Poland. As long as free Jews keep visiting, the voices of the Holocaust are heard.
The Hadassah Mission to Poland begins March 29, 2014. For information on all of Hadassah’s missions, go to www.hadassahtravel.org or call 888-811-2812.
Now is a good time to look for a Hadassah mission that suits your needs and speaks to your heart. The kind of journey that might have been just a dream for our grandparents is at your fingertips, and Hadassah is ready to help you plan your trip.