By Marcie Natan
Hadassah National President
In 2004, Belle Simon, who lived in New York at the time, needed a kidney transplant. A longtime member of Hadassah’s national board, she was fortunate to have become acquainted with a fellow board member, Katie Edelstein, who lived across the country in Seattle. When Belle got sick, Katie was inspired to fulfill a mission inspired by Hadassah –- helping and healing. She made the amazing gift of donating a kidney to Belle. Today, both are the living, breathing examples of the significance of Hadassah’s Pikuah Nefesh program, which encourages organ donation and builds awareness among families about the importance of letting loved ones know one’s intent to be an organ donor.
Katie and Belle are but two of the 100 women that we highlight today as Hadassah reaches its 100th anniversary. Each of these women brings her own unique experience to the largest women’s and largest Jewish organization in the United States, but at the same time is motivated and influenced by the mission of Hadassah: to strengthen our partnerships with Israel, ensure Jewish continuity and realize women’s potential as a dynamic force in American society.
Today, I am honored to have a very special opportunity to introduce you to Belle and Katie and 98 other women who have made Hadassah what it is today: a women’s Jewish organization more than 330,000 strong that brings women, girls and the men who support us together with a continued determination to improve medical care and research, social action and advocacy, volunteerism, Jewish education, youth programs that foster connections with Israel, and reforestation and parks projects. Jewish American Heritage Month, celebrated throughout May to commemorate Jewish Americans’ contributions to America, seems a fitting time to mark the ways Hadassah has played a role in the American Jewish fabric.
Take a look at the honorees and continue reading below...
Sandra Alfonsi of East Stroudsburg, Penn., President of Hadassah's Stroudsburg Chapter, has been a life member of Hadassah since 1978 and a member of the National Board since 1995. She has served as President of the Bayside Chapter in New York and a National Vice President. Currently Chair of "It's Not His Story, It's Your Story," she is an important part of Hadassah's Jewish/Zionist Education Department. "My involvement in Hadassah has enhanced my leadership skills," she says, "it has given me the opportunity to bring Hadassah's message to many communities where Jewish identity is at risk, and it has allowed me to pursue my love of Zionism, Israel and the Jewish people."
Sherry Altura of Los Angeles, Calif.: "Growing up, it seemed that my mother's Hadassah group was always talking about raising money for the new hospital in Israel - luncheons, rummage sales, dinners, raffles, and I was always somehow involved - servin lunch, selling tickets. All of this came full circle when on my honeymoon trip to Israel, my husband took me to Ein Kerem to see a plaque in memory of his mother, and I saw the actual hospital and all of the plagues from around the world."
Miriam Aron of Teaneck, N.J. Since she grew up in a home where Zionism and volunteerism were part of her everyday life, it was a natural succession that Miriam became Region President of Northern New Jersey and the only National Board member who could say, "My mother is a National President," - Deborah Kaplan. Miriam puts her own spin on volunteerism in Hadassah with her determination and creativity, bringing joy to and respect from everyone who works with her.
Ginny Baird of San Jose, Calif. is honored to be completing her first year as President of the Central Coast Region of Hadassah and serving on the national board during this historic time - Hadassah's Centennial year and opening of a state-of-the-art medical tower in Jerusalem. "I could never have imagined when I was the regional webmaster, having developed the first web site linked to our national web site, that Hadassah would become so important in my life," she says.
Jacquie Bayley of Seattle, Wash., is Region President of the Pacific Northwest and a product of the first Hadassah Leadership Academy. She is passionate about Hadassah because she shares the same values of founder Henrietta Szold: Tikkun Olam, Repairing the World; Pikuah Nefesh, Saving a Soul; M'Dor l'dor, from Generation to Generation, and K'lal Yisroel, a United Voice of the Jewish People.
Phyllis Berlas of Beachwood, Ohio, says Hadassah has been an integral part of her life and the life of her family for over 50 years. "It has been my passion and no matter what portfolio or position I have held in Hadassah, it has empowered me to embrace my conviction with action in working toward a better tomorrow for all people. "
Rhoda Bernstein of Forth Worth, Texas has for most of her adult life, considered Hadassah the main expression of her Zionist and Jewish commitment to the land of Israel and the Jewish people. "Joining my mother, of blessed memory, on the National Board nearly two decades ago, and then having my sister join our ranks, has only served to strengthen the undeniable bond and strength of this, our incredible Hadassah family. In 1985, I stood proudly as my grandmother installed me as a third generation President of the Fort Worth Chapter of Hadassah. And then in 1993, I was honored to be installed by my mother as the President of the Greater Southwest Region, a position she had held in the early 1960s."
Mindy Bloom of Winston-Salem, N.C.: "After the tragedy at Virginia Tech in April 2007, Southern Seaboard Region Board members decided to go to the students, faculty, and Blacksburg, Va.'s Jewish community to show how much we cared about what happened to them. Our Region went to Blacksburg and celebrated Shabbat on the Virginia Tech campus by hosting Shabbat dinner and giving the students Virginia Tech kippot inscribed with the Hadassah logo. A memorial service to present a 400-tree JNF garden to university officials in memory of the victims was also held that weekend. Every moment we spent with the students, faculty, and community was intentional, important and substantive. Just as Hadassah does, when we are need by our Israeli family at a time of peril, we were needed by our Virginia Tech family. The goals of showing support and building new and happy memories were realized in ways that will reveal themselves for many years to come.
Aileen Bormel of Baltimore, Md., Hadassah Centennial Lock Campaign Chair: "Hadassah has connected me to a network of women around the world. It has empowered me to advocate for Israel and given me the amazing opportunity to allow others to experience the country through the Israel missions that I have led."
Pennie Sessler Branden
Pennie Sessler Branden of Woodbridge, Ct., past-President of the Connecticut Region of Hadassah, found her niche in Hadassah in the Nurse's Council, where she has left her indelible mark. Her enthusiasm, knowledge and skills of leadership have brought her to be Co-Chair of the Hadassah National Center for Nurses Councils Advisory Board.
Fredi Brown of Scottsdale, Ariz., President of the Desert-Mountain Region, is a fourth generation life member of Hadassah, a committed leader, an ardent supporter, and an advocate for women's rights and Israel's cause. "I do my work because of those that came before me and showed me the way, and for those that will follow me, and continue the work of Hadassah."
Roz Brown (late) of Wellington Florida: No matter what Roz did for Hadassah, it was always fundraising, from being Region President to a National Board member, to writing a show or developing new leaders, her heart and strategies revolved around the best campaign to get the job done. No one could plan better, implement smarter or nurture a donor better than Roz, the ultimate Zionist. She will be missed forever.
Ruth Cole of Ridgewood, N.J.: "Among my important memories of Hadassah are the early years in the 70's of building our Northwest Bergen Chapter in northern New Jersey and serving as Region President in the 80's. The end of the 80's to the present have been exciting years of educational and advocacy, for instance when as National Chair of Jewish Education and then Israel and Zionist Affairs Chair, I was a part of overseeing the publication of outstanding books and study guides including "Jewish Marital Status," and "Between Arab and Jew: Unraveling the Knot." When we published "Israeli and American Jews: Understanding and Misunderstanding," we launched with a major symposium for Jewish Education Chairs from across the country. It was most rewarding to see the engagement and enlightenment of Hadassah women and their communities developing a deeper understanding of the complex issues we continue to grapple with today.
Lisa Davidson of Hartsdale, N.Y. has been an active member of Hadassah for 23 years. After serving as president of the Tarrytown, N.Y. chapter and moving onto the region board, Lisa began her three-year term as Westchester Region President in 2004, subsequently moving to her current position on the National Board. Hadassah has enhanced her life socially and has made her the strong Zionist she is today.
Katie Edelstein of Bellingham, Wash., says, "To me, Hadassah links women who care to women who dare and is a vibrant example of people working together across countries and continents, helping and healing, dedicated to changing people's lives. Through my involvement with Hadassah, I was offered the opportunity to impact another person's life by answering the appeal to donate my kidney, and I responded by saying hineni - I am here - and as a result donated my kidney to my National Board colleague, Belle Simon, in 2004."
Judith Epstein (late) of New York, N.Y.: During her 92 years, she served two terms as National President, first in 1937 and then in 1943. She is remembered most for being a role model as a learned and proactive leader to younger women, to whom she was constantly reaching out and mentoring as they joined the ranks of leadership on Hadassah's National Board. She realized that while the history and experience of the organization is held by its longstanding members, the future of the organization belongs to the young women. The Judith Epstein Young Leadership Award was named in her honor.
Karen Everett of Larchmont, N.Y.: "Hadassah is Jewish women from all across the country and around the world, of all ages and backgrounds, coming together to heal the world. Hadassah is the only organization where the power of women, in particular of Jewish women, is brought to bear on some of the most difficult health and welfare challenges of our day. "
Dr. Karen Ezrine
Dr. Karen Ezrine of Naples, Fla., chairs the Hadassah National Physicians Council, through which she is working with her colleagues to develop and enhance the relationship between U.S. and Israeli physicians and to support the work of the Hadassah Medical Organization in Israel and the United States. She looks forward to the council's third exciting Continuing Medical Education Program, "From Concept to Cure," that will take place just prior to Hadassah's Centennial Convention.
Nancy Falchuk of Boston, immediate past National President, created the Hadassah Nurses Council and expanded Hadassah-International's bridge-building around the world. As Hadassah's 24th National President, she streamlined the organization to overcome economic tidalwaves. Repeating "our grandmothers built Mount Scopus in the Depression," her presidency achieved Hadassah's largest ever fundraising goal of building the Sarah Wetsman Davidson Medical Tower at Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem.
Arlene Freedman of Flossmoor, Ill. Began her affiliation with Hadassah in 1967 after a trip to Israel. She served as President of Zahava Deborah (one of the groups comprising Hadassah Chicago Chapter) in 1975, President of Hadassah Chicago Chapter from 1985-87, while her daughter was a group president, and then served as a member of the National Board and at present is a member of the Honorary Council of Hadassah.
Ruth Ann Freedman
Ruth Ann Freedman of Highland Park Illinois has followed in her mother's footsteps and is today the President of Hadassah Chicago Chapter. Her involvement in Hadassah began when she was in her twenties and became president of one of Chicago's young leader groups and has continued as she has used her professional and volunteer skills to be a leader in Hadassah and a role model in tikkun olam for her 11-year-old daughters.
Dr. Miriam Freund-Rosenthal
Dr. Miriam Freund-Rosenthal (late), New York, N.Y., was a member of a six-generation Hadassah family who persuaded Marc Chagall to create 12 windows displayed in the Abell Synagogue, Jerusalem. Under her reign as National President from 1956-1960, the first Young Judaea Year Course took place, Ein Kerem Medical Center moved forward, Hadassah Hebrew University was dedicated, and the Hadassah School of Dentistry opened and the first class graduated. She also was editor of Hadassah Magazine, and served in leadership positions in National Education, Youth Aliyah and Zionist Affairs, and as Hadassah United Nations Non-Government Representative.
Leslie B. Gaffin
Leslie B. Gaffin joined the National Board of Hadassah as the president of the Southern New England Region in 1993 and is currently serving as the liaison to the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute, where she is also a board member. Locally, she serves on the Hadassah New England Philanthropy Collaborative and is a five generation life member of Hadassah. The HBI (founded in 1997 with a grant from Hadassah) develops fresh ideas about Jews and gender worldwide by producing and promoting scholarly research and artistic projects. She has been involved in promoting "HBI Conversations," a book group where women meet with authors who write on subjects pertaining to Jewish women, currently running in 10 communities in the United States and Canada.
Donna Gerson of Philadelphia serves as Chair of the Hadassah Foundation. She is the former Co-Chair of the Young Women's Department, former Chair of Hadassah Attorneys' Councils, and a member of the National Board. Her Hadassah journey began when her grandmother made her a life member. "Who knew that it would take me to so many places, including the U.S. Supreme Court for a special swearing-in program featuring a meeting with Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg?" she says. "I am so proud of what our members are building for all Israelis regardless of religion, gender, or race.
Marla Gilson (late) of Washington, D.C.: Opening Hadassah's Washington Action Office with her as the director propelled the organization into a position of power and prestige on the national, state and local scene. Under her direction, programs such as Day on the Hill and Date with the State brought large numbers of Hadassah members into the political arena and affected change on issues such as the danger of insurance companies using pre-existing conditions to deny coverage.
Barbara Goldstein of Jerusalem, Israel was the first National President of Junior Hadassah and has been involved with Hadassah for more than half a century, starting as a teenager in Junior Hadassah, through many roles of leadership in Hadassah, locally and nationally, to this day where she is a staff professional - Deputy Director of the Hadassah Office in Israel. "My life has been guided by a passion, commitment and humor to Judaism and Zionism, activism and pragmatism from the struggle to free Soviet Jewry, the need to zionize, to promote "in-marriage" through education and love of Israel and the Jewish people. I live according to Pirkei Avot - the task is not mine to finish but I must be part of it."
Sandy Goldstein of Bethesda, Maryland has been a Life Member of Hadassah for 40 years. Among her many roles, she served as a National Vice President, National Chair of American Affairs, President of Hadassah's Northern Seaboard Region, and President of the Annapolis Chapter. She chaired the Day on the Hill portion of the 2005 Hadassah National Convention and brought 1,500 delegates to Capitol Hill to lobby their Members of Congress on issues of importance to Jewish Americans. This year, she is working on bringing Hadassah women to Washington again to celebrate Hadassah's Centennial in the Nation's Capital.
Jill Goldstone of Wynnewood, Pennsylvania: After serving as immediate past president for three years of Hadassah of Greater Philadelphia (10,000 members) she has accepted four positions on the National Board. Having just been nominated to a three-year term on the board, she is passionate about sharing the mission of Hadassah with others and fundraising to enable Hadassah to remain strong for another 100 years.
Ruth Gursky of New York, N.Y., current President of the New York Region of Hadassah, is part of a three-generation life membership family who became active in Hadassah after graduating from the Hadassah Leadership Academy (HLA). The HLA enabled her to grow in personal strength, Jewish knowledge, leadership abilities, appreciation of Hadassah's work, dedication to Zionism, and love for Israel. Due to her life-changing HLA experiences, she stepped up as a leader in Hadassah, and she looks forward to leading Hadassah into its second century.
Rose Halprin (late) of New York, N.Y., was an ardent Zionist who spoke Hebrew fluently and lived in Jerusalem for five years as the liaison between Hadassah in the United States and Palestine, during which time she sat on the building committee of Hadassah Hospital Mount Scopus, and she attended its opening in 1939. A member of the Zionist Executive of the Jewish Agency for 20 years, she is most remembered for storming out of a World Zionist Congress when it was declared that all true Zionists eventually made aliyah to Israel, for she knew better - she knew the women of Hadassah. She served as Hadassah National President twice, from 1932-1934 and again from 1947-1952.
Gail Hammerman is a proud Centennial Founder from three generations of lifetime members. As current President of Hadassah Brooklyn Region, two years ago, she conceived and coordinated an archive project of oral histories, photos, and chronologies of events and artifacts of the 100-year history of Hadassah Brooklyn Region for its Centennial . This booklet will be released in June and will presented to National President Marcie Natan for the Hadassah Archives. She is a member of the National Board and Past President of the Park Slope Chapter of Brooklyn.
Ruth Hendelman of Dallas, Texas: "As an audiologist and as a woman committed to supporting Israel, 30 years ago I was drawn to Hadassah's lifesaving work in the field of medicine and to its efforts on behalf of children through its Youth Aliyah villages." Having served as a Chapter President, Region President, and a member of the National Board for the past 12 years, she currently serves as the Deputy Coordinator of Development and a member of the Executive Committee and is proud to be in the Circle of Founders and Keeper of the Gate families that financially support the work of Hadassah.
Kathy Hershfield of Sharon, Mass.: "My connection to Hadassah as a volunteer has helped me to connect to my Jewish identity, to the state of Israel and to other like-minded dynamic Jewish women here in the United States. I am fortunate to lead the Northeast area of Hadassah where we work to engage women in this cause that weaves a beautiful history of women's empowerment and healthcare in the Middle East to modern day Israel, cutting edge medical developments and a bridge to peace throughout the world." She serves on the National Executive Committee.
Ellen Hershkin of Dix Hills, N.Y., served as National Coordinator of Young Judaea, Hadassah's Zionist Youth Movement, during the Second Intifada when over 2,500 young people participated in Israel Programs, which were never cancelled. A 24-year National Board member and current National Secretary, she formerly served as a National Vice-President and has been a Hadassah member since 1973. She created leadership and speaker effectiveness training workshops t0 be used in Israel, Europe and the United States. Hershkin remains steadfast to Hadassah's Zionist Mission.
Charlotte Jacobson (late) of New York, N.Y.: As national president of Hadassah during the 1967 war, she went to Israel to receive the keys to Hadassah's Mount Scopus hospital from the Israeli Army after access to Mount Scopus was regained. The hospital had been cut off from the rest of Jerusalem since the War of Independence in 1948. As building and development chair, she supervised the rebuilding of the hospital and the building of the Moshe Sharett Institute of Oncology in the Siegfried, and Irma Ullman Building at Hadassah-Ein Kerem. She was presented with Hadassah's 1998 coveted Henrietta Szold Award at the 84th Annual National Convention in New York City. This was the first time a national Hadassah leader received the prestigious honor, named after Hadassah's founder, since it was initiated in 1948.
Carmela Kalmanson of West Palm Beach, Fla.: "Hadassah empowered millions of women, as practical Zionists, to make the world a better place. Because of Hadassah, for the first time in my life, I studied with women, taught Hebrew and Bible to members and understood the power of education to move one to action. I marched with Hadassah to celebrate the State of Israel, to free Soviet Jews and support a woman's right to choose. When I was elected as the National President of Hadassah, these important lessons set the agenda and culminated when Hadassah received the coveted prize for excellence in Zionist Jewish education before 2,000 delegates at the National Convention held in Jerusalem, after the Gulf War."
Deborah Kaplan of Bayonne, N.J. started as a teenager in Junior Hadassah in Northern New Jersey and rose to National President in 1991. Over 70 years, her fervor for Zionism and activism has brought her to the White House, to international capitals and to most of the chapters in Hadassah to share her message. Her inspiration and her commitment to Zionist principles as well as Hadassah's social action activism make her a role model for generations to come.
Marlene Kaplan of Highland Park, Ill., was elected Big Chapter President of Hadassah Chicago Chapter in 1995, growing membership, enhancing grassroots fundraising and increasing major gifts, while strengthening the organization's local infrastructure. Subsequently elected or appointed to various regional and national positions, including as current National Executive Vice President, she has continued to increase donations, grow Hadassah's existing donor base, and mentor emerging leaders. "My goal is to translate my passion for Hadassah's groundbreaking medical research, patient care, worldwide medical missions and education into meaningful donations which will not only benefit the current global population but will have a significant impact on future generations."
Eddyse Kessler of Miami, Fla.: Among the many opportunities Hadassah has given her, she has served as co-chair of two national conventions and on strategic planning teams with a focus on moving Hadassah forward with strength rooted in tradition. "Hadassah is about individuals contributing their best to build an organization that impacts the world. My contribution has been to motivate, inspire and provide for continued leadership at all levels of the organization. Through creating and implementing fully funded Young Women's Missions to Israel, I have seen young women take leadership roles locally and on the National Board."
Viviane Kovacs of Searingtown, N.Y., is President of Nassau Region of Hadassah with a membership of over 18,000 women. Her hope is to inspire others to give of themselves by becoming active contributors in the building of a Jewish future in the United States and in Israel. She began the first Nassau Region Walk-a-thon to raise needed money and awareness for stem cell research at Hadassah Medical Hospital.
Bobbi Kraft of Philadelphia, Penn., is a Past President of Hadassah of Greater Philadelphia and has served on the National Board as United Nations Representative, Advocacy Programs Chair and Editor of the Hadassah Academic College News Bulletin. She is the National Editor of hCoast-to-Coast, an online news bulletin of Hadassah happenings around the country and currently serves as Promotions and Marketing Chair for Hadassah's upcoming national Centennial Convention to be held in Jerusalem in October.
Marcia Gabrilove Ladin of Rochester, N.Y.: "My Zionism began at age 12 with my first visit to Israel. Hadassah has enabled me to keep my Zionist connection since I became a member in 1979. My most exciting Hadassah moment was when my nomination of Henrietta Szold to the National Women's Hall of Fame in Seneca Falls, N.Y. was accepted in January 2007. As the current Young Judaea Scholarship Chair, I am proud that we, Hadassah, enable a new generation of Zionists to develop through our camps and Israel programs, and our scholarships help make it happen for kids whose families are struggling with the costs."
Bonnie Lipton of Highland Park, Ill.: A five generation Life Member, Bonnie Lipton stepped up from Chapter to Region to serve as the 22nd National President (1999-2003). Currently Building Chair of the Sarah Wetsman Davidson Hospital Tower now open at Hadassah's Ein Kerem campus in Jerusalem, she has been a major fundraiser throughout her 50-year association with Hadassah. Among her 200+ trips to Israel, she chaired a National Convention In Jerusalem and has led many major donor missions to Israel.
Debbie Levine of Sugar Land, Texas: "Nine years ago, I initiated the Women of Courage program in Houston, with upwards of 600 in attendance honoring special women and institutions that have made significant contributions to women in our community. As founder of the Mazal group in Sugar Land, I am the immediate past president of Houston Chapter and currently serve as an appointed member of the National Board as the Society of Major Donor Chair. As a three generation life member, I remain a devoted enthusiastic volunteer whose passion is development, sharing Hadassah's medical successes, embracing donors and perpetuating Hadassah for future generations."
Lisa Lowhurst of Spokane, Wash. was a Young Leader who was runner-up for the prestigious 2009 Judith Epstein Memorial Award for her community project, "Possibilities for Peace: Breaking Barriers and Building Bridges in the Middle East." Her involvement as a Young Leader helped energize other young women to participate in Hadassah's work.
Ellyn Lyons of Toms River, N.Y. is Hadassah's current treasurer. "Hadassah is the avenue through which I have expressed my deep love for Israel and all aspects of my Jewish heritage," she says. "From the first time I stood with a Hadassah chapter to sing Hatikvah, I knew I would devote much of my time and heart to this Zionist movement. I met inspirational women who showed me how and, more importantly, why, to make Hadassah, Israel and Jewish life a central component of my life and, thus, my family's as well."
Dale Marcus of Wichita, Kan. is the immediate past president of the Great Plains Region, a Hadassah life member, and currently, a Donor Relations Manager and a Development Division Trainer for Hadassah. "What I do is twofold - I am an online trainer for our volunteers, facilitating workshops on topics such as how to motivate volunteers, how to avoid volunteer burnout, and how to find new and renewed leadership. As a donor relations manager, I assist chapters in identifying, soliciting and stewarding major donors. As a trainer, I facilitate workshops on reducing anxiety around solicitation of major gifts, and provide workshops for groups and chapters on putting together fundraising events."
Debra Mazon of Emerson, N.J.: "From joining Hadassah when I was newly married for its Zionist bent as well as to meet others like me, to becoming a Region President and member of the National Board because of what we were achieving in Israel through the Hadassah College and the rest of our projects, I discovered that Hadassah gives me the opportunity to use my organizational and creative skills to bring joy and wisdom to leaders, young and old alike, in a Zionist envelope. I believe that together, because we are smart, passionate and focused, we will continue to be a pacesetter in Israel and our efforts will impact lives everywhere, for years to come."
Deborah Minkoff of Madison, Wisc.: "Engaging in local Hadassah activities in Madison as a young, married mother inspired me to redirect my life's work from scientific research to partnering with Israel through meaningful projects that have empowered me to expand my Jewish identity. Each new experience has been an opportunity for positive personal growth. Whether it was attending a National Convention, lobbying for a cause, or challenging myself with every new leadership responsibility, I always find myself through Hadassah."
Sue Mizrahi of Mamaroneck, N.Y.: "In my 30-plus years on Hadassah's National Board, I have served as National Secretary, National Vice-President, Chair of Strategic Planning, Coordinator of the Education/Public Policy Divison, Coordinator of the Marketing-Communications Division, Chair of Leadership Development, Chair of Young/Women/Young Leaders , Chair of Jewish Education, Young Judaea Chair of post-high-school programs and Birthright. The most important part of my work with Hadassah has been the privilege of learning and teaching and of strengthening my Jewish soul."
Julie Morris of Spokane, Wash.: "While surrounded by a loving family and a vibrant synagogue in a small Jewish community, Hadassah and my passion for Israel are the frosting on my cake. Serving with dedicated women, making friends from all over the United States, and lending my talents in leadership, strategic planning, development and mentoring have hopefully enriched Hadassah and given my life added depth, added values and added meaning."
Earlier this month, the women of Hadassah opened the doors to our crowning accomplishment of the century, the Sarah Wetsman Davidson Hospital Tower at Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem. This building is allowing us to do what Hadassah has always done: Provide compassionate, expert care to all patients, regardless of religious or ethnic background.
But it also represents the continuation of a 100-year-old legacy in the power of generations of Hadassah women to not only build a first-rate medical system, but to bring women together across time, oceans, ages and community and advocacy needs. Hadassah’s pioneering work can be found in our members’ endeavors to not only build a strong and healthy Israel, but also to nurture Jewish-Arab relations, both in the Middle East and in the United States, through programs that assist at-risk youth, integrate new immigrants, and of course, develop strong Jewish commitments among Diaspora youth.
Our mission today remains as vital as it did 100 years ago as communities of Hadassah women across the United States mark our centennial year. Last month, we welcomed Shabbat 100 years to the day in the very spot where Henrietta Szold first conjured the ideas that would become Hadassah –- Temple Emanu-El in New York.
As we celebrate our 100th birthday this year, the women of Hadassah are preparing for our next century. But at the same time, we remember and honor our past. What still motivates us today and will guarantee our future is a commitment to the values exemplified by our founder, Henrietta Szold, a Jewish scholar and activist, who was dedicated to Judaism, Zionism, and the American ideal, as well as the many thousands of women who, together, have laid our foundation.
As you look through the photos and short bios of these 100 women, we hope you too will be inspired to positively influence your community. Join us as we look forward to our next century.