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Hadassah Park Slope Chapter > About Park Slope > Park Slope Chapter Biography

Park Slope Chapter Biography

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Park Slope Hadassah Welcomes You!
Cecelia Kramer

If you’re aware of National Hadassah's initiatives, you may be wondering how they’re translated into local activities Park Slope Hadassah members participate in throughout the year. This chapter bio only skims the surface of the varied activities and learning experiences that engage us. It can't begin to detail the warmth of friendships made or the depth of skills acquired as a result of our involvement.

Jewish holidays are a source of chapter celebration and learning: Passover, Tu B’Shvat, Rosh Chodosh seders, and Chanukah parties, held in local synagogues, are a joyous melange of songs led by Rabbi Heidi Hoover of Temple Beth Emeth, poetry and history provided by Jewish Educator, Hazel Tischoff, and dance with tambourines led by Michele Isaacson and Sally Hipscher.. Several of our members sing in the Brooklyn Jewish Community Chorus, and their voices enhance our own events. All these celebrations are interlaced with tzedakah and fund raising. Throughout these parties we bid on auctioned services. These have included Haute Haimisha feasts in Nama Taub’s Arts and Crafts Bungalow, all aglow in fire and candlelit stained glass; Chinese New Year Banquets in Ruth Shapiro's’ Flatbush Victorian, with light reflecting off brass samovars and plates; and bountiful brunches in Hazel’s home, the warm wood paneling punctuated by blue and white ceramics. City tours by Cecelia Kramerand handmade jewelry of silver and semiprecious stones by Barbara Elstein are also auctioned.

Moving beyond our local synagogues and homes, we tour cultural sites as interesting ways of raising money for Hadassah. We’ve visited the only Greek-Romaniote synagogue in the western hemisphere, Kehila Kedosha Janina, on the Lower East Side; The Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion Museum in New York, the Jewish Museum, the Center for Jewish History, the Museum of Jewish Heritage, the American Folk Art Museum, the New York Historical Society, the Brooklyn Museum and the Brooklyn Historical Society. Ron Schweiger, Brooklyn Historian, has led us on walking tours of Victorian Flatbush as well as Brooklyn Heights.

Book Discussions are held in members’ homes three times a year. These feature contemporary Jewish fiction or nonfiction, accompanied by luscious potluck dinners, fragrant with home-baked desserts and savory ethnic dishes. (After sampling these delectables, the clamor for recipes resulted in a new section of our web site.) Several book events featured the author, including Hannah Rigler, indomitable, robust Survivor, who personally elaborated on her gripping autobiography Ten British Soldiers Saved My Life. We were also delighted to meet the author of Sima’s Undergarments for Women, Ilana Stanger-Ross, who based her novel on her early own shopping experiences in Borough Park! A typical Hadassah member, Ilana is a midwife as well as a writer.

Multiple perspectives on legal, health, political or religious issues are garnered at our yearly Fall Membership Events. Other group activities mobilize for Voter Registration and Freedom of Choice campaigns, lobbying legislators to support Stem Cell Research, attending a March for Freedom of Choice in Washington, and walking to raise funds for cancer research. Recently we shopped en masse at a local Ricky’s, where picketing by anti Zionists had impacted its sales. Women’s Health issues are the focal point of annual events chaired by members Harriett Cohen, Ph.D and Elaine Sarfati, R.N.

To plan for these and many other yearly activities we have Board Meetings once a month. This ensures that our very busy membership gets to attend only fully planned events. We invite you to take an active role in our chapter's future by volunteering to assist someone who holds a portfolio on our chapter's Board, such as Membership, Fundraising, American Affairs, or Programming. Or, you can offer to host an event in your home or lead a book discussion.

Our spectrum of membership is as unique and interesting as our activities, ranging from Sephardic members born in India and Morocco to Ashkenazi members from Italy, Hungary, Israel, Poland and Canada. Lawyers, educators, accountants, nurses, social workers, a museum curator, a bed and breakfast owner, a journalist, and stay at home moms belong to our chapter. Some were born into Jewish families, others chose to convert to Judaism. Some keep a kosher home; others don't, but light Sabbath candles; still others view themselves as strictly secular. We have life members who are grandchildren; others are grandmothers. So, we’re truly an inclusive group.

You may be curious about the name of our chapter: Mindy Roller founded it in February, 1983. At the time, she was a young Park Slope mother. As her family grew, along with the families of other charter members from the neighborhood, they moved into houses in Victorian Flatbush. Over the years, friends and relatives from all the Brooklyn Brownstone communities, as well as all over the borough, have joined our chapter. Still later, members have moved to Manhattan and New Jersey, but we still keep our name. Our events are held in Brownstone Brooklyn community centers as well as in East Midwood Jewish Center, Temple Beth Shalom, Beth Emeth, Manhattan Beach Jewish Center, and Bay Ridge Jewish Center.

From that initial charter group, we’ve grown to 300 members, including 285 Life members, and have added an Associates group for men which has 30 members. If you aren’t a Life Member, you can take advantage of a once in a lifetime, Hadassah Centennial Celebration opportunity of doing so for only $100! In 2012 you can join us at our international convention in Jerusalem, view first hand the facilities we’ve helped build, and tour Israel’s preserves, galleries, museums, and archeological discoveries. Janet Young, our chapter President will help you join our chapter and travel with us to Israel.
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