Betty Samuels Seidel

Betty Samuels Seidel
Baltimore, MD

Career and Family
I am a 95+-year-old, proud member of Hadassah Greater Baltimore. Our families have long been devoted to the People and the Land of Israel. We have tried to inspire our three sons to share our deep concern for Hadassah and Am Yisrael. My late husband was a Peabody Conservatory graduate, musician, and piano teacher who served in the United States Navy. Together, we operated two music stores in Baltimore. My career has included teaching in high schools and colleges. Utilizing my Johns Hopkins University bachelor and master degrees in Education, I served 15 years in the Baltimore City Commission on Aging and Retirement Education, developing programs, providing support services, leading retirement education classes, and advocating when promoted to Public Information Officer. My Hebrew name is Batya (Daughter of God), which I take very seriously. I am a very active, involved member of my urban synagogue Beth Am, House of the People. Proudly I wear my multigenerational Hadassah Life Pin.

How did you get involved with Hadassah?
I have been associated with Hadassah since early childhood, when my mother, Anna Nechama Samuels, took me to a very special meeting at the home of Bertha Szold Levin to hear her sister, the founder of Hadassah, Henrietta Szold. Miss Henrietta, as they called her, spoke such inspirational words that they remain in my memory as though it were yesterday. I recounted this memorable experience “That Brief Encounter” in Hadassah’s Thin Threads book, published in 2012. I was exposed to many aspects of Hadassah when my mother served as President of our local Hadassah Chapter and of the Seaboard Region, as well as serving on the National Board and Speakers’ Bureau. Our home was ever filled with Junior Hadassah and Young Judaea members whom my mother advised, providing them, and also me, with a strong sense of Jewish identity. In 1956, my mother made me a Life Member of Hadassah. I treasure the card signed by National President Rebecca Shulman. Throughout the years, Hadassah has provided me the opportunity to learn and to serve as President of the Eutaw Place and of the B and P (Business and Professional) Groups of Hadassah, and as Chapter Vice-President of numerous projects such as fundraising, membership, education, program, and speakers’ bureau. Currently, I am Co-Chair of Senior Groups as well as Liaison to the Federation of Jewish Women’s Organizations of Maryland, where I hold a Board position as Chair of SERV-A, supporting Jewish men and women in the United States Armed Services.

What is it about Hadassah that resonates with you?
Volunteering for Hadassah has provided me with opportunities for personal growth, for serving, for performing advocacy, and for making deep friendships with wonderful women of many ages. How fulfilling it is to participate in advancing medical science, healing, teaching and research for the benefit of all the people of Israel and the world! How gratifying it has been to participate in the initiation of our extraordinary Check It Out Program, educating teenagers about early detection of breast and testicular cancers! How amazing that my late husband and I fulfilled the dream of donating a Microbiology Pharmacy Laboratory in the Moshe Sharett Institute of Oncology at Kiryat Hadassah, Jerusalem! What a Blessing that many of my relatives are memorialized in the Chagall Synagogue, whose windows we had the good fortune to view at the Louvre in Paris before they were sent to Jerusalem! I will never ever forget that on one of my visits to Israel I enjoyed a stimulating week with American and Israeli women in a Hadassah study program at Neve Ilan, Jerusalem. On a nearby hill, which had been recently devastated by fire, I had the privilege of planting a JNF olive tree in the soil of Eretz Yisrael. Many decades in a lifetime have been filled with memories that will ever resonate, as I have tried to emulate Henrietta Szold’s advice: “Dare to dream … and when you dream, dream big!”

Share something you would like people to know about you
I am a Vintage Poet. I create my famous “Doggerel” for every possible occasion! I enjoy singing, and, somehow, my ancient mind retains the words and tunes of many “oldies” and “goodies.” Very stimulating are our monthly Book Club sessions. I credit Hadassah for helping me develop leadership skills and facility with speaking in public, which I have been teaching for many years at a local community college. My family has been very supportive, and I believe they are proud of my accomplishments and of this wonderful recognition. The Seidels were integrally involved in the purchasing, equipping, and converting the Old Bay Line steamship President Warfield into the Exodus: “The ship that launched a nation.” My late husband delivered supplies surreptitiously in the dark of night. He also drove Golda Meir when she was on tour in 1951 promoting the investment in Israel Bonds. My mother was the organizer and first Chair of the Maryland Bonds Women’s Division, and I am privileged to continue sitting on its Board. I have tried to follow in the footsteps of Henrietta Szold. Her dreams have become my dreams, and Hadassah has provided the opportunity to fulfill them.

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