The Hadassah Foundation awarded the Bernice S. Tannenbaum Prize to Lena Gurary, Executive Director of Supportive Community: Women’s Development Center [Sviva Tomehet], on June 7th in New York City. Named in honor of Ms. Tannenbaum’s lifetime of service to the Jewish People, the State of Israel, and Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization of America, the Prize recognizes innovative contributions to advance the status of women and girls in Israel and the United States. Ms. Tannenbaum was National President of Hadassah from 1976 – 1980. She is the Foundation’s Liaison to Hadassah’s National Board.
Founded in 2003 by a small group of businesswomen, all recent immigrants from the former Soviet Union, Supportive Community helps Israeli women improve their economic and social status by establishing and operating a micro-business. In 2008, The Israel Small and Medium Enterprises Authority named Supportive Community one of the three most important non-governmental organizations in the field of women's social and economic empowerment in Israel.
In March 2009 U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met with Supportive Community leaders and clients on her first diplomatic visit to Israel, a privilege coordinated by the U.S. Embassy in Israel and awarded to only a handful of organizations in the nation.
Ms. Gurary is spending three weeks in New York meeting with a wide array of organizations working on women’s issues and microfinance and learning best practices. Readers who wish to meet Lena may contact firstname.lastname@example.org
The Bernice S. Tannenbaum Prize was conceived and implemented through generous contributions from Joan and Leonard Leiman with additional funding provided by The Philip and Muriel Berman Foundation.
The Hadassah Foundation [www.hadassahfoundation.org] is dedicated to refocusing the priorities of the Jewish community through innovative and creative funding for women and girls in the United States and Israel. Its mission is to improve the status, health, and well-being of women and girls; bring their contributions, issues, and needs from the margins to the center of Jewish concern; and encourage and facilitate their active participation in decision-making and leadership in all spheres of life. The Foundation funds projects that serve women and girls from diverse cultural groups in Israel and in the Jewish community in the United States.
Bernice S. Tannenbaum Bio
Bernice Tannenbaum is a visionary leader. She served as National President of Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization of America, from 1976 to 1980. In the late 1990s she chaired the Strategic Planning Committee that proposed the creation of The Hadassah Foundation and she now serves as the National Board’s Liaison to the Hadassah Foundation.
During her extraordinary history of engagement with Hadassah, Bernice has played many critical roles. She was the creator of the concept adopted by Hadassah of “going global” and became the Founder and Chair of Hadassah International in 1983. Today, Bernice still plays an important role as a member of the International team.
Bernice was one of the founding members of the re-organized Board of Directors of H.M.O. She served as Chair of the Hadassah Magazine. She also chaired the process of bringing Hadassah’s history into book format. The first edition of It Takes a Dream was published in 2000 and she is still Chair of the book.
Bernice headed Hadassah's successful campaign to achieve NGO consultative status in the United Nations’ Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). In 1982, Bernice was elected to the Chairmanship of the World Zionist Organization, (American Section). As WZO Chair, she also was the de facto Head of the U.S. Campaign (successfully concluded in 1991) to repudiate UN Resolution 3379 which equated Zionism with Racism. She has been a delegate to all World Zionist Congresses since 1956. She is now an Honorary Fellow of the World Zionist Organization. In addition, she served as an officer and member of Va'ad Hapoel (Zionist General Council) and has been an official delegate to the Board of Governors of the World Jewish Congress in countries around the world. She served as Vice-President of AIPAC (the American Israel Public Affairs Committee), and was a member of the American Holocaust Commission.
Bernice also represented Hadassah and the World Jewish Congress at the 1980 United Nations, Mid-Decade Conference for Women in Copenhagen, and at the 1985 United Nations, End-Decade Conference for Women in Nairobi, In 1992, she co-chaired the first International Conference ever convened in Jerusalem on the Empowerment of Jewish Women.
Hadassah honored Bernice by presenting her with its prestigious Henrietta Szold Award in 2003. She also was selected as the inaugural recipient of Hadassah International’s first Woman of Distinction Award in London, U.K. Bernice earned a B.A. in English literature and Art from Brooklyn College and taught in the New York City public high school system.
Lena Gurary Bio
Lena Gurary had a dream - to create a multicultural women’s community that promotes women micro business entrepreneurs through personal business and social development. Today thousands of women are the realization of this dream.
Born in Uzbekistan, the former Soviet Union, Lena immigrated to Israel in 1992, the first member of her family to do so. In 2003, Lena and three business women from the former Soviet Union initiated Supportive Community Women’s Development Center, and the following year Lena was named Executive Director.
Lena and her partners sought to build up a small community of women entrepreneurs, each of whom would create a wider circle of influence through their family and friends.
Lena studied World History and Jewish History at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. She graduated in 2002 as a Business Counselor from the Small Business Development Center. In 2004 she completed the Democratic Leaders as Community Leaders Course organized by Shatil, the Haifa University, the New Israel Fund, and Harvard University. And in 2005 she graduated from the International Visitors Leadership Program of the U.S. Department of State. In 2006 Lena was named Woman of the Year by Peace X Peace – a global women’s network.
The Bernice S. Tannenbaum Prize will enable Lena to spend two months in the United States – including three weeks in New York City -- to confer with leaders of Jewish and secular not-for-profit organizations that address poverty, microfinance and women’s issues.
Supportive Community: Women’s Business Development Center [Sviva Tomehet] started operating in the Herzliya area by giving services to a few dozen women who were new immigrants from the former Soviet Union. Today, a staff of 7 professionals and more than 20 counselors and moderators serves thousands of women across Israel -- new immigrants from the FSU and Ethiopia, native born Israelis (Jews and Arabs) from low income neighborhoods, women from agricultural settlements, Orthodox Jewish women, and multicultural groups.
Supportive Community developed a regional working model by creating local coalitions, building local infrastructure for independent business development which in turned assisted in attaining municipal funding for these local programs. In 2008, recognizing the success of this work, the Israel Small and Medium Enterprises Authority named Supportive Community one of the three most important non-governmental organizations in the field of women's social and economic empowerment in Israel.
In March 2009, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met with Supportive Community leaders and clients on her first diplomatic visit to Israel, a privilege coordinated by the U.S. Embassy in Israel and awarded to only a handful of organizations in the nation. After seeing first-hand the work of Supportive Community, Secretary Clinton stated that the organization is “exactly the kind of model that needs to be replicated”. Subsequently, in a press conference with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, she publicly recognized Supportive Community as a paradigm for multicultural coexistence in Israel.