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Message from the President

Hadassah responsive in time of crisis

Stephanie Z Bonder

In the words of Elie Wiesel, "It is a given in the Jewish world: if you want a project to come to fruition, if you want an initiative to have a follow-up, you think of Hadassah. Hadassah is more than an organization: it's a family - a family that loves and is loved. It loves to help those in need, the weak, the ill, in short, those who need help. And it is a family that is loved because it does these things with as much devotion as competence… The women of Hadassah know what they want to do, and they do it well."

Elie Wiesel wrote those words for the introduction of the book, "It Takes a Dream: The Story of Hadassah". This book has been my Hadassah guidebook. Whenever I wonder about what Hadassah has gone through and how Hadassah has evolved, I pick up this book and am renewed in my passion for this organization.

Last month, I participated in Hadassah's 97th National convention. Our theme was "Inspire, Imagine, Ignite". Obviously, the convention was planned well before the current war in Israel. However, Hadassah's work is so relevant to what is happening today on the ground that we were updated on a daily basis as to what was occurring in Israel. Obviously, the two hospitals are on high alert. Many of the doctors and nurses have been called up, so the remaining doctors and staff have to pick up the slack. Our Meir Shfeya Youth Aliyah village up north has opened for the summer to allow families of students from the south to come and stay to get away from the rockets. We have Hadassah doctors at the IDF Field hospital at Erez crossing. Doctors trained at Hadassah set up the Field hospital up north to help wounded Syrian refugees and they have now moved to the south to help the wounded Palestinians from Gaza.

Wherever there is a need Hadassah is there. The Terrorist incidents that have recently occurred in Jerusalem have put Hadassah Mt. Scopus in focus. First, the victims from the tractor attack were taken to Mt. Scopus for treatment. Then the IDF security guard, who was shot on Mt. Scopus was treated at Hadassah. His wounds were extremely severe as he was shot at close range, and he continues to be in a drug induced coma as he is recovering from his surgeries. The 63 year old security guard from Ma'ale Adumim, who was stabbed multiple times by a terrorist trying to get into the community is also at Hadassah Mt. Scopus. He made a statement that he was proud to be able to continue to protect his people and he was grateful to Hadassah for saving his life.

But that is not only what Hadassah is about. Hadassah focuses on education. We were privileged to hear from many of the most informed scholars on Israel. Gil Troy, presented two workshops on how to advocate for Israel and use facts to stop the BDS movements and anti-semitic attacks against Israel and Jews. With what is happening around the world, with the hatred being spewed against Jews, his words could not come at a more fitting time. We heard an incredible discussion between Ari Shavit, author of "My Promised Land" and Bret Stephens, of the Wall Street Journal. Usually on opposite sides of the political spectrum, it was pretty amazing to see Ari Shavit in agreement with much of what Bret Stephens was saying! We experienced a lively interview between Daniel Silva and Jamie Gangel. Daniel Silva has written the Gabriel Allon mystery series, centered on an Israeli operative, and Jamie Gangel is a journalist, who also happens to be his wife! By the way, Daniel Silva is a Jew by choice and he stated he does not necessarily see his books becoming movies, because he does not want to make changes. A producer came to him with an idea for a movie, but asked if the main character had to be Jewish! Silva stated, "He's an Israeli! How can he not be Jewish!" The producer thought it would be less controversial, and Silva thought it will never be a movie!

I would be remiss if I didn't share with you at least one incredible Hadassah story of hope. This is the story of Shachar. When she was a child of 6, she started to feel very tired. She had been a dancer and loved leaping around her house and dancing for her family. However, she began to feel exceptionally tired. Tragically, she was diagnosed with leukemia and need immediate treatment. Her family took her to Hadassah because they knew it was the best place for their daughter. Shachar had a positive outlook and faced her difficult treatments with a smile. It didn't matter when she lost her hair, she knew she would get better. She continues to go to Hadassah for follow up visits now that she is in remission. She brings joy to the young patients in the children's oncology department when she visits with her doctors. Her story is all the more poignant, because her mother is also a cancer survivor. We viewed a video about her and had tears in our eyes, when we were directed to look in the back of the room. There was Shachar a 12 year old girl walking up the aisle with her mother and a torah. We were going to share in her bat mitzvah. Here she was, a bat mitzvah in front of 800 of her Hadassah family members. She read torah without a glitch! Every single person in the audience felt the joy. It was a truly incredible event.

This is Hadassah. This is what the women of Hadassah make possible. It is so emotional. It is so connecting. It is so relevant.

I urge you to become more involved with Hadassah. If you are not yet a member, join us. Be part of a historical organization, started over 100 years ago, by a group of women, who wanted to make a difference and believed in the creation of Jewish state. Think of the words of Elie Wiesel, "It is incumbent on us to recount simply all the pride that Hadassah inspires in the hearts of so many Jews in Israel, in America and around the world."



Stephanie Z Bonder
Northern New Jersey Region of Hadassah

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