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The Power of Our Dreams Gala Opening Plenary
The 98th National Hadassah Convention kicked off last night in a packed, energized room of nearly a thousand people.
To the sound of "Happy," the Pharrell Williams song, region presidents danced across the center stage, part of a Convention tradition, followed by national and regional leaders, past and present. Hadassah National President Ellen Hershkin and Executive Director/CEO Janice Weinman gave visionary addresses to standing ovations, with Ellen introducing Oscar-winning actress Gwyneth Paltrow as a Woman of Valor as she honored her with Hadassah's Power of Our Dreams Award
After local and regional presidents and chairs took to the stage, Convention Chair Carol Ann Schwartz and Vice Chair Merna Shapiro brought grace and humor and many thank-yous to attendees with a shout-out to first-timers: Together, they said, "let's believe in the power of our dreams and be inspired by this convention experience. Todah rabah."
Judith Varnai Shorer, Israeli Consul General to the Southeast, praised Hadassah "volunteers' relentless effort" for keeping "Hadassah's work relevant & meaningful."
Hadassah Leadership Fellow alumna LeeAnne Galioto's cascading voice led the room in rousing renditions of Hatikvah and The Star-pgled Banner.
Earlier, Hadassah — in recognition of the Greater Atlanta Hadassah's centennial — was presented with two proclamations, one from the Atlanta City Council, the other from the State of Georgia.
Hadassah National President Ellen Hershkin spoke to a captivated audience about how fitting Atlanta is to celebrate dreams, having given us Martin Luther King, a great friend of Israel with ties to Jewish clergy. She spoke about how the Power of Dreams is contagious — and had fueled the efforts of Theodor Herzl, Henrietta Szold, and talked about the depth and breadth of Hadassah's work in the US and Israel, ending with a powerful charge that we go "from strength to strength" and "from dream to dream...for women everywhere.
Earlier, Hadassah Executive Director/CEO Janice Weinman entered the stage and stated that "This convention is about dreams." Watch her speech to hear her talk abut "How we impact lives — from global to individual."
First Timers and Gifted Members Welcome Reception
Over 100 women were inspired, entertained and informed at a session for everyone attending their first National Convention, including many gifted members. The women were treated to stories from the past National Presidents illustrating how Hadassah forms strong bonds of friendship and the esteem with which Hadassah is held by world leaders. They learned about the responsibilities of attending and voting at the Business Meeting and met National Convention Chairs and the Local Convention Chair. The excitement of a first convention is a feeling that will always be remembered.
The alumnae of Young Women's Missions, NYLAC, Leadership Fellows, and HLA gathered to reunite, share memories, laugh and remember the moments that enhanced their Hadassah experience. Many of these women have taken leadership roles in the regions and on the National Board. Check out the photos on the Alumnae Board in the Atrium by the registration table.
Young Women Welcome Reception
Past National President Marlene Post greeted over 30 young women who are defining how they are making an impact on important issues through Hadassah. Special guest Naomi Katz, founder of The Beautiful Project, shared her message of sharing her words empowerment.
Guardian & Society of Major Donors Intimate Dinner & Discussion
National President Ellen Hershkin welcomed the prestigious group of nearly 120 donors, as did Esther Berman, Society of Major Donors Chair. Prof. Zeev Rotsten, HMO Director General, energized the group with an HMO update. After dinner, Miki Shulman, Guardian Chair, introduced HMO patient Malia Litman who relayed her personal story, from her career as a nurse and later as an attorney to motherhood and, finally, to her diagnosis of multiple sclerosis over 10 yeaers ago. Malia spoke passionately about Hadassah and her successful stem cell treatments from HMO's Dr. Dmitrios Karussis. She calls Dr. Karussis, the "rock star of stem cell therapies." Speaking with emotion, Malia said that Hadassah has given her hope.