Twenty-seven Westchester men and women joined 2,000 others from around the world to celebrate Hadassah’s Centennial at its Convention in Jerusalem, from October 15 – 18.
Region President Phyllis Hartstein said, “I am thrilled to lead such a large and enthusiastic delegation to this extraordinary event, which celebrates 100 years of Hadassah providing health, education and services to the Jewish community, and kicks off the second century of helping to repair the world”.
A march along the streets of Jerusalem with Hadassah donors, volunteers and members of the organization along with local supporters, to emphasize Hadassah’s partnership and relationship with the State of Israel, officially opened the three-day centennial convention. The march ended in Safra Square, where 2,000 people, wearing red Hadassah Centennial T-shirts and waving flags, were greeted by Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat.
At the first gala evening, President Shimon Peres dedicated the Sarah Wetsman Davidson Hospital Tower at the Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital campus in Jerusalem, Hadassah’s most ambitious project in Israel to date, at a cost of $363 million. During the convention, attendees all had the opportunity to visit the Hospital Tower, which was a highlight for most. In addition to seeing spaces given through individual large donations by Westchester residents, attendees were pleased to visit the “Westchester Room,” an on-call suite memorialized with a plaque, which was built with donations from hundreds of members from across the County.
Peres and Hadassah President Marcie Natan also unveiled the Hadassah stamp and First Day Cover, produced in partnership with the Israel Postal Service in honor of Hadassah’s achievements and its centennial celebrations. The stamp features symbols of Hadassah’s activities in Israel, which together form a Magen David on a blue background with the Hadassah and Hadassah Medical Center emblems.
Following the opening ceremonies, Hadassah proudly joined the women of Women of the Wall and together prayed at the Western Wall. Seven busloads of Hadassah members joined in prayer that night.
As a non-denominational Jewish women’s organization, Hadassah was proud to bring the largest number of women to the Wall.
Marcie Natan said “I speak on behalf of all Hadassah members and supporters -- women and men, American, Israeli and otherwise -- in reiterating our commitment to and support for freedom of worship for all women at the Western Wall. The culmination of a week of events celebrating our first 100 years is an opportune time to focus on the advancement of women’s equality of all platforms -- professional, personal and religious.”
The convention also included the opening of the Hadassah Heritage Center, an interactive museum using advanced technology to feature the organization’s century of achievement, which is located in the lobby entrance to Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital adjacent to the Chagall windows. The exhibit is intended to keep the history alive while Hadassah moves into its next century of Tikkun Olam.
Hadassah Neurim Youth Village, one of three run by Hadassah for at-risk and immigrant youths, played host to the 2,000 Hadassah visitors. This convention event included various activities that recognized Hadassah’s commitment to education and immigrant absorption, as well as its partnership with the Jewish National Fund (JNF).
Effi Stenzler, World Chair of JNF, in his address to the Hadassah delegates, said: “Hadassah was appointed JNF’s official liaison to women in the United States in 1926 and remains its partner. JNF and Hadassah together paved the road that led to the State and then changed the face of Israel.”
Stenzler continued, “Hadassah helped us plant 240 million trees, build over 250 water reservoirs and create parkland and urban parks accessible to the disabled”.
That same evening more than seven hundred major Hadassah donors gathered for a special evening of celebration, featuring three Israelis who have been helped in major ways by Hadassah, from lifesaving emergency care at the hospital to love, a home, and education at a Hadassah youth village. This event raised nearly $18 million in additional funds for Hadassah.
At the event, Karen Everett of Larchmont, a past Westchester President, announced that she and her husband David are donating a nursing station at the new hospital. Carol and Steven Fasman of Larchmont also announced that they are donating a room in honor of their mothers, whose long commitments have inspired them.
The Convention concluded with a final gala event at which Marcie Natan presented Hadassah’s prestigious Henrietta Szold Award to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The Szold Award is an honor Hadassah has historically bestowed on both men and women -- while reserving its Women of Distinction Award for women -- and traditionally is given to the current prime minister of Israel whenever the Hadassah convention is held in Jerusalem. Mr. Netanyahu addressed the convention, telling the audience of his support for the rights of all women in Israel, and the tremendous appreciation he and Israelis have for the extraordinary work of Hadassah, in Israel and around the world.
Founded in 1912, Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization of America, is celebrating its 100th year. Hadassah is the largest women’s Zionist Jewish membership organization in the United States. 330,000 members strong, Hadassah is entering its second century, growing our commitment to innovative and life-changing medical care and research, women’s empowerment, education, advocacy, philanthropy and building Jewish identity – in Israel, America and around the world. For more information, visit www.hadassah.org.