What Defines Us as Hadassah Women
When I left school, I didn’t stop being a student. When I left home, I didn’t stop being a daughter. And when, on December 31, my term as national president comes to an end, I won’t cease to be a Hadassah woman.
Some things define you for life. I didn’t join Hadassah to be a leader. I came because I had to. My father, who served in the United States Army’s 11th Armored Division in World War II and was one of the liberators of Mauthausen, taught me that I could never forget I was part of the Jewish people. He also told me that Israel must survive, and that the time would come when its defense would become my responsibility.
I didn’t know how right he was until that moment came: The 1973 Yom Kippur War. Israel’s existence was threatened, and I had to choose between standing by helplessly or doing something. Of all the Jewish organizations in my Long Island community, Hadassah was taking action. I went to work collecting funds for Hadassah Hospital’s treatment of the war wounded.
My presidency has been a microcosm of my 46 years in this organization: Uplifting, feeling pride in our work and in how far we have come. Perhaps most of all, I am forever reminded that when you multiply one person’s energy by the devotion of 300,000, you get a force that can literally change the world.
During my term, Hadassah has continued to excel. We’ve seen the Hadassah Medical Organization chart new territory in stem cell treatment, gene therapy and robotic surgery, and make research advances in multiple sclerosis, age-related macular degeneration, Alzheimer’s disease and much more. We launched the Coalition for Women’s Health Equity, opened our Office of Government Relations in Washington and reinstituted a Young Women’s Department. My term has also encompassed much of the implementation of the HMO Recovery Agreement—signed in 2014 and ending on December 31, 2020—under which HMO has reorganized its financial structure.
I won’t take personal credit for any of these accomplishments, but I have been privileged to lead the grand army of volunteers that made so much happen over these past four years. And I am delighted to pass the mantle of leadership to incoming National President Rhoda Smolow. I wish her much success and minimal stress.
I have many, many people to thank. I owe so much of what I have learned to all of my presidential predecessors, those gone and those still with us, who have had such a deep influence on me.
My utmost respect and gratitude to Dr. Zeev Rotstein, HMO director-general, for his diligence and persistence in steering our medical center along a path fraught with obstacles, not only preserving its position as Israel’s leading institution of healing but going beyond the goals of the Recovery Agreement.
My deepest thanks to Hadassah Executive Director and CEO Janice Weinman for her leadership, partnership and constant support.
I thank every member who has made Hadassah a priority in her life. You are all cherished stakeholders in HMO, Youth Aliyah, Young Judaea support and Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization of America.
My profound appreciation goes to Hadassah’s dedicated staff, in America and Israel, for sustaining and advancing our work every day.
I am enormously grateful to the officers and members of the National Board, the Portfolio Council and the National Assembly.
My eternal thanks to Henrietta Szold for transforming her study circle into the instrument of empowerment called Hadassah. My years of service were enabled by her ideal of lifelong study.
Finally, thank you to my loving family. Without their support and encouragement I could never have undertaken this life-altering role.
Serving as Hadassah’s national president has been the challenge and the honor of my life. I remain who I am: friend, daughter, wife, mother and savta—and student and Hadassah woman. I may be moving on, but I’m not moving out.
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