Our Mission, Your Mission
In modern life, travel is all about leisure and adventure. But looking at the sweep of human history, this view of travel covers only about the last 150 years. Until then, people ventured far from home mostly for pilgrimage or out of a sense of mission. Often those journeys lasted for months or years—or were permanent.
The Thanksgiving season reminds us of the Pilgrims who came to America looking for a new home where they could practice their faith freely and—among other things—adapt their knowledge of Hebrew Bible customs in creating a harvest feast. Hanukka reminds us of our forebears who fought for freedom in our own land. For all of Jewish history, the Land of Israel has been the destination for those seeking a permanent homeland as well as for short-term pilgrims.
Most of us travel for pleasure, but part of Hadassah’s culture is mission-oriented journeys. And with an ease of movement that our founders could not have imagined, we can tailor brief but intense missions to fit many interests, even as they allow participants to learn, to tour and to show solidarity with Israel and the Jewish people.
Amid the recent tensions in Israel, our revitalized missions program has received rave reviews—from the travelers themselves and from the personnel at hotels, restaurants and tourist sights who know they can count on Hadassah even when others stay home.
“I feel even more strongly that Hadassah and Israel must survive and thrive!” said one participant, Jan Weissman, at the end of one of our recent missions.
“It was an amazing trip,” said Cheryl Stark. “I learned so much from being in Israel and seeing what Hadassah has done for the country.”
And for 2016, we have a fantastic 9-mission menu, offering a rich variety of programs.
My personal favorite is the Mother and Daughter mission that I will lead with my daughter, Heidi, at the end of June. Others include our Mission to Jerusalem and the Blooming Desert, led by Marlene Post, 21st National President of Hadassah; and the Humanitarian Mission to Cuba led by 24th president Nancy Falchuk—sorry, but that one is sold out.
Also on the 2016 roster are an interfaith mission, an Amsterdam/Israel tour, a food-wine-fashion-design itinerary and several regional missions. All of these programs are organized by our travel partner, Ayelet Tours. Check Hadassah to see which tours best suit your needs and your calendar.
Hadassah’s first mission consisted of the two nurses we sent to Jerusalem in 1913. They were the vanguard of what eventually became the Hadassah Medical Organization, which built Israel’s public health system and original hospital network. More than 100 years on, our medical center remains the flagship of Israeli medicine.
I am pleased to announce that the unbroken chain of superb HMO leadership will continue when Dr. Zeev Rotstein becomes Director General of HMO on January 1. Dr. Rotstein has had a long and distinguished career at the Sheba Medical Center in Tel Aviv, where he has served as director general since 2004. He began at Sheba as senior cardiologist in 1984.
“As a leader and physician, Dr. Rotstein is a perfect fit to guide HMO,” observed Erez Meltzer, chairman of the HMO board of directors. “His combination of management experience, academic excellence and care as a physician is crucial in addressing the challenges and nuances of Israel’s public health system and to continually improve HMO’s service to its patients.”
Under Dr. Rotstein, I have no doubt HMO will continue to be a leader in providing world-class patient care and conducting groundbreaking clinical research. I also want to take this opportunity to thank Dr. Tamar Peretz for serving as interim director general during a difficult period, and for her contribution to HMO over the years as a leading breast cancer specialist and director of the Sharrett Institute of Oncology.
From that first two-nurse mission grew a tradition of healing, research and medical leadership. Our mission goes on.
A happy Hanukka to all.