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Hadassah Elects Nancy Falchuk, of Newton Center, MA, New National President

24th National President Comes From Background of Zionism, Medicine, and Volunteerism
Genever McBain

24th National President Comes From Background of Zionism, Medicine, and Volunteerism

(New York, NY -- July 19, 2007) -- Nancy Falchuk of Newton Center, MA, was elected this week as National President of Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization of America, at the organization’s annual National Convention, just concluded in New York City. She succeeds June Walker, of Rockaway, NJ, who, beginning in 2003, served four one-year terms as National President and was recently elected the Chair of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.

In accepting the national presidency of the largest women’s, largest Jewish, and largest Zionist organization in the United States, Falchuk said: “Each one of us has a fire in our hearts for something wonderful. The fire in my heart is for Hadassah….I proudly accept the role as the 24th National President of Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization of America, fully aware that our organization is as relevant today as it was almost a century ago.

“For 95 years, Hadassah women have overcome the obstacles of war, terror, and disease, to save lives, heal bodies, and educate minds. From the first two American Jewish nurses we sent to Palestine, Hadassah’s primary goal has never wavered. It remains what it has always been – to support the land, the people, and the well-being of Israel.”

She detailed her goals for her presidency, including returning to the organization’s roots of providing Zionist and Jewish education to the membership through today’s technology; reinforcing the link between domestic issues and the organization’s Zionist heritage; fully engaging the membership in the upcoming 2008 electoral process through voter forums and other means of education; attracting young Jewish women to the organization; and sensitizing “an indifferent world to issues of Jewish survival and security.” She also urged the delegates and membership to become more active on a local level by engaging in local Jewish community activities.

“Going forward, my vision for Hadassah is to continue on the path of becoming an international powerhouse.” She concluded with a symbolic toast: “To Hadassah, in tribute to our pioneering spirit, leadership and perseverance…to the power and empowerment of women….and to our on-going celebration of healing, of education of youth, and of life.”

Reflecting her ties to her home community of Boston, she was installed as National President by Nancy K. Kaufman, Executive Director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston, who she considers an important mentor, and has taught her “the value of building coalitions to reach common goals.”

Falchuk, who grew up on Long Island and graduated from the Woodmere Academy, was raised in a home imbued with Zionist values and a Hadassah focus. Among her earliest memories are of her mother planning Hadassah programs – as she still does today.

Falchuk has been deeply involved in Hadassah for 30 years, volunteering her talents and time to serve a multitude of positions in both the Boston Chapter and at the national level. She was most recently the National Coordinator of Development, in addition to serving on the Executive Committee of the National Board. From 2000-2004, she was the Coordinator of Hadassah International and, also served as the Chair of the 2000 Hadassah National Convention in Los Angeles.

A fervent Zionist, Falchuk subscribes to Hadassah’s brand of practical Zionism: fully assessing and analyzing the situation and then acting to remedy or improve it. She credits this approach with Hadassah’s success in partnering with the State of Israel, and developing the country.

She was a Hadassah delegate to the 1987, 2003, and 2006 World Zionist Congresses in Jerusalem, as well as a delegate to the 2003, 2004 and 2006 Vad Hapoel meetings of the Jewish Agency.

In 2002, during the worst of the intifada and calls for boycotts of Israel, Falchuk, with the leadership of Professor Benjamin Sachs of Harvard Medical School, promoted and facilitated the first Hadassah/Combined Jewish Philanthropies of Boston Medical Solidarity Conference to Israel. More than 60 of America's most prominent physicians came to show their support for their Israeli colleagues and to make the statement that medicine must not be used as a political weapon of war. As this is a world-wide effort, Falchuk repeated the mission with Professor Sachs in 2003, this time bringing 30 outstanding doctors from the UK and four from Austria, in addition to 65 American doctors.

A nurse by training with a BS in Nursing from Russell Sage College, in Troy, NY, she is the co-founder of the Hadassah National Center for Nurses’ Council, the first and still only national professional organization for Jewish Nurses.

Reflecting on founding this important resource for Jewish nurses, Falchuk said: “When I first started out in nursing, I thought I was the only Jewish nurse. Now I have more than 3,000 Jewish nurses as colleagues in the Nurses’ Councils. Nursing has always provided me a very strong link to Hadassah – it allowed me to open the door for other Jewish women. I feel good about helping to provide them with that vehicle.”

The Center was created to meet the special educational, social, and professional concerns of American Jewish Nurses, as well as to establish a national partnership with the Nursing School and Nursing Division at the Hadassah Medical Organization. With the support of the thousands of members of the Hadassah Nurses’ Councils, Falchuk spearheaded the effort to successfully create and fund Israel's first academic clinical masters program in nursing at the Hadassah-Hebrew University-Henrietta Szold School of Nursing in Jerusalem.

She combines her passion for nursing with a deeply held belief that medicine is a bridge to peace in all parts of the world. It was with this guiding principle that she devoted more than 17 years of work to Hadassah International, the international arm of Hadassah with a presence in more than 26 countries. In addition to the role of coordinator, she chaired its Medical and Scientific Relationships unit, creating coalitions between the Hadassah Medical Organization and other major academic centers. She has also chaired Hadassah International Conferences in Spain, the United Kingdom, France, Israel, Canada, and Miami.

Upon the completion of her position as coordinator of Hadassah International in 2004, Falchuk was honored by her international friends and colleagues, who raised funds and established a scholarship award in her name. The Nancy Falchuk Nursing Scholarship Award is given annually and includes a grant to enhance the work of three nurses at the Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem.

Falchuk is a past president of the Boston Chapter and the Chestnut Hill Group. In November of 1998, the Boston Chapter and the Southern New England Region honored her with their prestigious Tree of Life Award. She is a member of Congregation Mishkan Tefila, a former Vice President of the New England Zionist Federation, and a former Treasurer and Vice President of the New England Jewish Community Relations Council, also serving as Chair of the Middle East Committee for five years. She was elected to the Executive Board of the New England Anti-Defamation League in 1991 and the Women’s Division of the Combined Jewish Philanthropies in 1996.

Nancy is married to Dr. Kenneth H. Falchuk, from Venezuela, a professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. They have three children and five grandchildren.

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