Mark Roth's Remarks to the Delegates at the Gala Dinner
About two and a half years ago, my family traveled to Israel to visit our eldest daughter who was spending her gap year studying and volunteering there. We were fortunate to have my in-laws travel with us, but my parents, who wanted very much to come as well, were unable to do so because of my mother's dialysis schedule and her weakening condition. Unfortunately,within 36 hours of our arrival, I was enroute back to the States while my family said their good-byes to my mother via Skype.
I tell you this story not to evoke your sympathy but to discuss what followed. When we rose from shiva, my father expressed his desire to go to Israel with me both so he could see our daughter and so I could have some semblance of the trip that I had missed. In particular he wanted to see Hadassah Hospital, to understand why my wife, Loren, and I are so passionate about this cause and devote so much time and money to its manifold endeavors. While we toured the hospital with Ron Krumer, the director of external relations, my father who had been married to a Hadassah life member but was a fairly new Associate himself, turned to my daughter Sarah and said, "Look at this. We built this." Not "the women." "We." A collective effort.
I am proudly married to a passionate Hadassah life member and future region president who treats her responsibilities as more than a full-time job, and I have supported her in these efforts for the last 20 years. While Loreen made me a Hadassah Associate on paper, it was a woman, Debby Mazon, working with a man, Jim Smith, who made me an Associate in my heart. The leaders of Associates such as Jim, Howard Kaplan, of blessed memory, and Joel Marks, give me direction, while the women of Hadassah, particularly Haren Haber, our National Chair, Nancy Falchuk, and the current and past presidents of the Northern New Jersey Region, help me make things happen.
I've had the same experience visiting other Hadassah sites with my family, including the Meir Shfeya youth village and Hadassah College Jerusalem. The work of these institutions is our work, their goals our goals, their values our values. I know I do not need to elaborate for I am truly "preaching to the choir" in this venue: I will mention only a few to illustrate what I speak of: Stem cell research; Unmatched trauma care; Children at risk; The clown corps; First responders to disaster relief; and on and on.
When I speak with the highly talented and successful men who are Hadassah Associates, I find that they are passionate and fully committed to the work of Hadassah. We derive our inspiration from the women of Hadassah and we share a common vision. While we may organize golf outings instead of card parties and ball games instead of theater events we are driving towards the same end result: financial support for Hadassah projects, outreach to new and prospective members of the Hadassah family, and education for all.
We live in challenging times. Economically, people are afraid for their jobs, feel insecure about their financial futures. They are to give, and those who can give, have an enormous range of worthy causes from which to choose. Those who are fortunate enough to have jobs are asked to work longer and longer hours, leaving precious little time for families and even less for volunteerism. Politically, fundamentalism combined with easily available weaponry, growing anti-Semitism cloaked in anti-Israel rhetoric, the threat of a nuclear Iran, and the ease with which European leaders and college professors alike preach a moral equivalence that turns terrorist into victims, all create an environment in which the very survival of the State of Israel is in danger.
It's a cliché that bears repeating: These are the times that define an organization. We have no choice but to rewrite our playbook if we are to survive and thrive into our next 100 years. We are challenged for resources at the time the need for our services is greater than ever. My friends, we need to work together. When the men and women of Hadassah work together, as I have seen so many times in my own experience, the results can be astounding. Let us in. Together, let's explore different ways to attract new members and new avenues to engage our current members. There are times when men and women want to be involved separately, but increasingly, with time so precious, they welcome the opportunity to engage as couples or in mixed groups. Help us make connections on the chapter and region levels and we can deliver much-needed funds to Hadassah. We no longer have the luxury of time on our side; the needs are too great and if we do not actively touch these men, we will lose them to other organizations.
I have a day job. I work upwards of 14 hours a day with people calling on me from around the globe. I have three children, a wife, other family and friends, outside interests. I could easily say that I'm busy enough and the last thing I need to do in my so-called "spare time" is lead an organization of over 30,000 men, trying to get them to give more, involve their friends, commit time and effort that they can't really afford either. But I can't do that. i believe in this organization. I stand with you. I don't have all the answers. Sometimes I don't even feel like I know the right questions. What I do know, in my heart, is that Hadassah is a cause worth fighting for.
My name is Mark Roth, and I Am Hadassah.