Inside Hadassah: A Season for Courageous Work
In the spirit of Esther’s bold determination, Hadassah women of today forge ahead in our mission to better the lives of women. I know you share with me the pride in our Hadassah Foundation aiding the fight for marriage and divorce equality for women in Israel; the latest creative fundraising and awareness initiative for Every Beat Counts: Hadassah’s Heart Health Initiative; and the national vice president who successfully juggled the demands of young motherhood, work and a passionate committment to Hadassah.
Hag sameah to all you proud, brave women! —Nancy Falchuk
Redesigned Travel Department
Hadassah has been part of the fabric of Israel for over a century. We are pleased to provide a multilayered full-service travel program to Israel and the Jewish world (check out our new website, www.hadassahtravel.org).
Our selection of trips includes both creatively prearranged itineraries and tailor-made programs, designed with our team of experts listening to and catering to your specific Israel travel needs and dreams.
On offer are adult tours, where you will experience the fascinating and contradictory layers of Israel—the ancient land that today is in the forefront of technology, industry and medicine, a land of desert tribes and high-rise buildings. Explore famous sites and off-the-beaten-track corners. Our adult tours have frequent departure dates and are conducted at exactly the right pace for you.
We have also put together family tours, where you and your loved ones will learn about the history, diversity and passion of Israel. This multigenerational adventure will provide activities to delight all ages.
And we can even help members plan customized tours, where you pick the travel dates and describe your dream vacation in Israel, and we will create an unforgettable, comprehensive experience, for either adults or entire families!
Meet the Veep: Lisa Davidson
Picture a Hadassah chapter president with a 3-year-old in tow. Lisa Davidson was that mother when she was president of the Tarrytown, New York, chapter of Hadassah. As its leader, she participated in Hadassah’s Member Get a Member enrollment challenge. The prize for enrolling the most new members was a trip to the 1995 Hadassah convention in Israel. Hard work paid off; to her surprise, Davidson won the challenge!
How lucky can a person be? Twice as lucky when her mother decided to join her on their first visit to Israel. Davidson (above, with husband, Josh Davidson, in Israel) fell in love with the country, the people and Hadassah’s projects, and she was impressed by the Hadassah women assembled in Israel from the United States.
Davidson credits her leadership skills to the seasoned members of her chapter and the Westchester Region. She thinks in terms of the future. As a national vice president, she encourages mentoring at every level of Hadassah, chapter to National Board, as a way to insure another 101 years. She feels that there must be a place in Hadassah for all women. “There are talented women out there,” she says. “We need to find them and find the right way to engage and empower them. Israel is thriving, but still needs us.”
Professionally, Davidson works as a CPA. She is able to transfer her analytic skills to her Hadassah volunteer responsibilities. She is chair of the Governance and Compliance Committees as well as a member of the Executive and Management Committees. Her calm demeanor and ability to clearly explain complicated concepts are special talents that are true gifts to Hadassah.
Hadassah meetings have been a part of the life of her son, Daniel, since he was a toddler. Lisa and Josh are generous two-time Founders and Keepers of the Gate. —Sandra King
Going, Going, Gone—for Heart Health
Hadassah is right now conducting its first-ever national online auction to raise funds for our Every Beat Counts heart health program and also to raise awareness of Hadassah through social media.
Every Sunday through Thursday in February (February 2 to 27), a new item will go on the auction block. Items will be listed on eBay’s charity arm, https://givingworks.eBay.com (once there search for Hadassah, WZOA Inc.), so that members and nonmembers will have an opportunity to bid. One hundred percent of proceeds will be used to support the Department of Cardiology at the Hadassah Medical Organization and, here in the United States, the Every Beat Counts heart health initiative.
At least one item a day—ranging from a diamond pendant, to a leather jacket, to works of art and several other goodies—will be offered. All bidding will begin at 12:01 A.M. Eastern Standard Time and end at 11 P.M.
Bid on some fabulous gifts and support heart research, treatment and education!
Marriage and Divorce in Israel
The Hadassah Foundation held a special public forum featuring Susan Weiss, an attorney and the director of the Center for Women’s Justice in Jerusalem, last December. CWJ, a long-time foundation grantee, sues recalcitrant Jewish husbands who deny their wives a religious divorce in Israel’s civil courts, seeking damages even after the husbands may have given a get.
Weiss was in the United States to promote her new book, Marriage and Divorce in the Jewish State: Israel’s Civil War (Brandeis University Press), which she coauthored with Netty C. Gross-Horowitz. She also spoke at a conference sponsored by another foundation grantee—this one an American group—the Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance.
Bertold Fridlender: President, Hadassah Academic College
Bertold Fridlender began his career at the Hadassah Academic College 10 years ago as the “free half” of a twofer, when his wife, Rosy Fridlender, joined the college’s management team. “Biotechnology should be taught here,” he told then-college president Nava Ben Zvi. “You’re right,” she replied. “Build a program!”
A visiting professor at Rutgers Biotech Center, founder and director of several biotech companies and a global biotech consultant, Fridlender took Ben Zvi at her word. He created Israel’s first undergraduate biotech program, designed its curriculum, handpicked its faculty and served as its chairman.
The years passed. Rosy moved on to volunteer with social services at the Hadassah–Hebrew University Medical Center at Ein Kerem, Ben Zvi completed her presidency and, in August 2012, Fridlender ended his almost decade of voluntarism at the college to become its new president. “The offer was irresistible,” he says. “Not because I needed the job, but because it allows me to impact on life in Jerusalem and Israel.”
Born in Santiago, Chile, 70 years ago, Fridlender and his wife have had a Jerusalem home for almost 40 years. While his work has taken them all over the world (their eldest, Marcelo, is their only Israeli-born child; his brother, Tzvi, was born in the United States; and sister, Jessica, in Argentina), they have always considered Israel their home, and their seven grandchildren are all sabras.
A warm, humorous and courteous man, Fridlender names the excellence of the college as a major challenge. “It’s easier to enter a failing institution and rescue it,” he explains, smiling. “My job is taking something first rate and making it still better.” Nonetheless, he has “a number of things” planned, and just over a year into his presidency several are up and running. One is an alumni association, funded by the Rosalinde & Arthur Gilbert Foundation. A second is a career center, supported by the Rothschild-Caesarea Foundation. “We’re a career-focused college, and these are important additions,” Fridlender notes.
For faculty, he has established a College R&D Authority to help snag research grants, giving teaching staff—and, through them, the college—ways to grow. “The college has a great academic and administrative team who believe in what they’re doing,” he says.
A year before becoming president, Fridlender brought in a major R&D grant: $2.7 million from the European Union for BioXplore, a two-year investigation of indigenous Mediterranean flora. “It’s the EU’s first competitive grant to an Israeli college leading a multinational scientific initiative,” says Fridlender, who coordinates the project with Greek, Spanish and Palestinian partners. “Twenty college biotech students are involved, screening hundreds of Mediterranean-basin plant species for compounds for pharmaceuticals, food additives and cosmetics. Israel’s plants seem particularly rich in valuable chemical compounds. We’re hoping to extend the project…through public funding or industry sponsorships.”
Also high on Fridlender’s to-do list are new study tracks. “We’re awaiting authorization for undergraduate behavioral science and finance and accounting,” he says. “Next is a graduate management program.”
The sole higher education institute in downtown Jerusalem, the college has long contributed to the city, attracting a younger population and fueling the engine for scientific growth. Its newest outreach, however, responds to “a national challenge,” enthuses Fridlender. “We’re opening our doors to the haredi population.”
The college is currently putting 103 haredi men and 165 haredi women, aged 18 to 24, through a one-year program (mekhina), with an even larger number expected to register next year. “Educated in haredi schools, the mekhina year is to bring them to the required academic level,” says Fridlender. “Thereafter, they’ll enroll in any of our programs. Giving this population career tools is a mission we’re undertaking in mutual respect.” By 2015, extra space for the growing student body will come from the adjacent seven-story Leona and Harry Helmsley building.
This, says Fridlender, is only the beginning: “I look to my presidency to realize my dreams for the college—and give my successor an even harder job to improve it!”