Contact: Renee Young
Hadassah National Public Relations
April 4, 2019 – NEW YORK, NY – Hadassah installed three national officers at its National Assembly meeting in West Palm Beach, FL, announced Ellen Hershkin, President of Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization of America, Inc. (HWZOA). Clara Gillman, from Miami FL, was installed as National Vice-President; Gail Hammerman, from Brooklyn, NY, as National Vice-President; and Rhoda Smolow from Great Neck, NY, as National Secretary of the nation’s largest women’s Zionist service organization. Nancy Falchuk, Hadassah National Past President officiated at the installation ceremony.
Hadassah National President Ellen Hershkin states, “Since its founding over 100 years ago, the strength of HWZOA comes from the passion, dedication and commitment of a talented core of volunteers such as Clara Gillman, Gail Hammerman and Rhoda Smolow. Each of these newly-elected national officers have been of exemplary service to HWZOA and bring us an extraordinary array of leadership skills and administrative talents. Hadassah is truly blessed to have their support and dedication to HWZOA’s mission of empowering women and supporting the land and people of Israel.”
National Vice-President Clara Gillman of Miami, Florida, served on HWZOA’s National Board from 2015-2018 and currently serves as Co-Chair to the 2019 HWZOA National Convention in New York City. She is a past President of the Greater Miami Region where she was was a member of the Major Gifts Outreach Team and served as the 2010 Local Convention Chair. Her previous HWZOA positions include: Co-Chair of the 2017 National Business Meeting; Region Organization Vice President, Fundraising Coordinator, Conference Coordinator, and Historian. She has held numerous chapter offices including: President of the Hatikvah Chapter, Vice President, Fundraising Vice President, and various chair positions for events.
In addition to her HWZOA portfolio, Gillman is on the board of Inner-City Wrestling, a school-year program and summer camp designed to keep kids “on the mats, off the streets” and teaches and improves wrestling techniques. She previously served as a mentor for the Women of Tomorrow program which encourages at-risk high school girls to live up to their potential.
Gillman holds a Master’s in Mathematics Education from the University of Florida and is retired, after dedicating 35 years to teaching high school mathematics. Gillman and her husband, Stephen, an attorney, have three sons and two grandsons. A member of Hadassah since 1975, she is a Golden Keeper of the Gate and she and her husband are members of the Society of Major Donors.
Gillman states, "I am truly grateful for the variety of service positions I have held with Hadassah over the past thirty years which have provided me with an extraordinary opportunity to be of service to Jewish women here in the U.S. as well as to the land and people of Israel. This leadership position will enable me to have a meaningful impact on moving HWZOA forward as we further our mission and strengthen our bonds with and commitment to Israel."
National Vice-President Gail Hammerman of Brooklyn, NY, previously served as National Secretary of HWZOA (2015-19). As a Vice President, Gail serves as a Madrichah for the "Building Hadassah Community" national initiative for leadership development. She is a member of the HWZOA Executive Committee, National Board and the Governance Committee. Hammerman also represents Hadassah on the National Board of the American Zionist Movement. She also served as the Resource Chair for the Metro Area Regions for three years. She became President of the Brooklyn Region (2009-12) after having served on the Board for many years in numerous positions: Executive VP, Tower Chair, QUEST Chair, Women’s Health Chair and President of the Park Slope Chapter (2008-09).
During the 1991 Persian Gulf War, Hammerman volunteered in Israel and served with the Israeli army. She has been honored by numerous communities, legislative and Jewish organizations, such as Na-Amat and Masores Bais Yaakov of Brooklyn and was named “Woman of the Year” by Israel Bonds. She was the Special Assistant to the Brooklyn Borough President from 1978-2001. From 1979-2008, Hammerman was an Adjunct Professor at Long Island University, where she taught Political Science. She has also taught Health Science at Brooklyn College from 1971 to 1978. Gail received her M.S. and B.S. from Brooklyn College, CUNY.
Hammerman is a three-generation Life Member of Hadassah. She and her husband, David, a Hadassah Associate and a retired Biology Professor from Long Island University have been married for over 55 years and have three children and five grandchildren, all Life Members. A member of Hadassah since 1988, Hammerman is a member of the Circle of Founders and a Keeper of the Gate.
Hammerman states: "My new board position allows me the invaluable opportunity to further Hadassah's mission and goals in the United States and Israel. The Building Hadassah Community initiative will attract, engage and nurture HWZOA’s potential leaders of the future, increasing their leadership skills and effectiveness by educating them on Hadassah’s mission and Jewish values.”
National Secretary Rhoda Smolow, from Great Neck, NY, is an immediate HWZOA Past National Vice President, a member of the National Board, the Co-Chair of Celebration 2018 and a former member of the Hadassah Management Committee and the Compliance Committee. Smolow served in the Member and Unit Services Division as the National Organization Department Chair and National Presidential Development Co-chair and was also a member of the National Strategic Planning Committee, the National Implementation Team, and was the Co-Chair of the Blue Print Geographic Training Program. Smolow also represents HWZOA on the board of the American Zionist Movement.
Smolow is a Past President of the Nassau Region. She also served on the Nassau Region Board as Executive Vice President, Membership Coordinator, Leadership Coordinator, Outreach Coordinator and Area Vice President. During her Region Presidency, she created an educational, interactive script called the “Last Zionist” which was produced at a Nassau Region Conference. Rhoda was a Great Neck Chapter Co-President and was instrumental in opening the Great Neck Chapter office, holding many positions on the Great Neck Chapter Board. Smolow was also President of the Erev Group of the Great Neck Chapter and held many other positions with the Erev Chapter. She is a currently a member of the Lulav Group of Great Neck.
Smolow graduated from Washington University with a Bachelor of Arts in Education and Psychology and holds a Master of Arts from the University of Pennsylvania, becoming a Reading Specialist and teaching in Philadelphia and on Long Island. Smolow is part of a Five Generation Hadassah Life Member Family. She and her husband, Craig, with three children and four grandchildren, are part of a Three Generation Founder Family and are members of The Society of Major Donors. A member of Hadassah since 1980, Smolow is also a Keeper of the Gate.
Smolow notes, “As HWZOA’s newly-elected National Secretary, I will continue HWZOA’s tradition of providing air of inclusiveness, flexibility, and positivity to all of our meetings. My goal is to create a forum for volunteers and members to take on leadership roles to further Hadassah’s support of outstanding health care for the people of Israel through its two world-class hospitals in Jerusalem.”
Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization of America, Inc. (HWZOA) is the largest Jewish women’s organization in the United States. With 300,000 members, associates and supporters Hadassah brings Jewish women together to effect change and advocate on critical issues such as women’s health equity and the security of Israel. Through the Hadassah Medical Organization's two hospitals, the world-renowned trauma center and the leading research facility in Jerusalem, Hadassah supports the delivery of exemplary patient care to over a million people every year. HMO serves without regard to race, religion or nationality and earned a Nobel Peace Prize nomination in 2005 for building “bridges to peace” through equality in medical treatment. For more information, visit www.hadassah.org.