JUNE WALKER ELECTED TO THIRD TERM AS NATIONAL PRESIDENT OF HADASSAH 91ST NATIONAL CONVENTION ENDS WITH A ROUSING DAY ON CAPITOL HILL
(New York, NY -- July 22, 2005) -- June Walker, of Rockaway, NJ, was elected to her third term as the 23rd National President of Hadassah at the organization’s 91st annual convention, which just concluded in Washington, DC. Since becoming President at the New York Convention in 2003, she counts among the major achievements of her tenure the opening of the state-of-the-art Judy and Sidney Swartz Center for Emergency Medicine at the Hadassah Medical Center in Ein Kerem, the near completion of the Judaean Youth Hostel in Jerusalem, and Hadassah’s largest ever advocacy program, SOS: State of Stem Cells, an initiative that saw Hadassah delegations visit 50 state capitals during the spring to advocate for favorable stem cell legislation.
Also elected were: Ruth B Hurwitz, as National Treasurer, and Mona Wood, as National Secretary, both of Baltimore, MD. Elected as National Vice Presidents were: Sandra Alfonsi, of Bayside, NY; Karen Dannin of Middletown, RI; Seema Liston, of Phoenix, AZ; Ellyn Lyons, of Toms River, NJ; Susan Mark of Stamford, CT; Renee Resnik of Columbus, OH; Andrea Silagi of Encino, CA; and Roselle Ungar, of New Orleans, LA.
Their election took place in the shadow of the U.S. Capitol, where on Tuesday some 1,500 Hadassah members from 37 states held 150 meetings with their local Congressional representatives, both on the House and Senate side to discuss Hadassah’s positions on foreign aid for Israel, stem cell research and genetic discrimination, and the Iran Freedom Support Act.
This year’s annual national convention of the largest women’s organization in the U.S., entitled “What So Proudly We Hail,” focused on policy and featured an extraordinary number of women elected officials and policy experts. Highlights of the convention included a major address by Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), who announced that she would introduce legislation, the Life Insurance Fairness for Travelers Act, to prevent insurance companies from rejecting applicants who plan to travel to Israel, explaining that she herself had recently been denied life insurance because of possible travel to Israel. She also plans to propose federal legislation to name January as “American Jewish History Month.”
In the course of a policy discussion on the state of U.S.-Israel relations with the Hon. Daniel Ayalon, Israel’s Ambassador to the U.S., Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr.(D-DE), the ranking minority member of the Senate’s Committee on Foreign Relations, expressed his steadfast support for Israel that dates back to his first trip there in the early 1970s, at the invitation of a Hadassah chapter in Delaware. He made news when he stated that he had recently contacted both Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Gen. William Ward, the top U.S. security envoy to the region, to encourage the U.S. to give $10-12 million directly to the Palestinian Authority. “The U.S. should give Abbas direct economic aid so he has something to deliver. He should be able to say that all kids whose tuitions have been paid for by Hamas, are now being paid for by the Palestinian Authority.”
This year’s Henrietta Szold Award, Hadassah’s highest honor, was awarded to a husband and wife team: the Honorable Daniel C. Kurtzer, U.S. Ambassador to Israel, and his wife, Sheila Kurtzer. In awarding them this honor, former Hadassah National President Bonnie Lipton announced that Hadassah was establishing an annual scholarship for Young Judaea’s Year Course in the Kurtzers’ name. In her acceptance remarks, Sheila Kurtzer graciously stated: “You have turned Henrietta Szold’s visions and goals into reality. The credit and acknowledgement belong to you.”
In a particularly lively discussion moderated by former White House Press Secretary Dee Dee Myers, called Politics & Policy – Why Women Matter, Rep. Judy Biggert (R-IL), Ellen R. Malcolm, President, EMILY’s List, Letty Cottin Pogrebin, author, and Linda Chavez, political analyst, debated a variety of issues including whether a woman could be a viable candidate for president. “Any woman elected has to be a strong defense candidate,” Linda Chavez noted. With the nomination of Judge John G. Roberts to the Supreme Court not yet announced, the women were split on whether the vacancy was a “woman’s seat,” with two of the participants simply wanting to see the best qualified candidate named.
Other topics examined at the convention were the view of Israel in Congress, First Amendment rights, advanced medical research, and heart disease in women.
Delegates were fully briefed on Hadassah’s medical, educational and youth projects in Israel, and a record amount of money was raised for them at an annual fundraising dinner. The latest, cutting-edge medical developments at the Nobel Peace-Prize nominated Hadassah Medical Organization were highlighted in neurosurgery, stem cell research and orthopedics, where bone substitutes are being created that will allow fractures to heal with minimally invasive surgery.
The chairs of the 91st national convention were Joyce Rabin of Woodmere, NY, and Judy Palkovitz, of Pittsburgh, PA. Next year’s annual national convention, Hadassah’s 92nd, will be held in Nashville, TN, July 23-26, 2006. The convention co-chairs will be Judy Palkovitz and Barbara Topol, of Chevy Chase, MD.