Hadassah and Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz Host Briefing in Nation’s Capital, "American Women Supporting Israel: Building Bridges and Making an Impact"

Hadassah convenes influential American women to discuss the importance of continued support on Capitol Hill for the US-Israel relationship

Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Media Contact:
Sarah Rothfleisch

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Hadassah hosted “American Women Supporting Israel: Building Bridges and Making an Impact” in partnership with Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL-25), a briefing showcasing women who are working to build support for Zionism and who believe America needs policies that support a strong alliance with Israel.

Speakers included Rhoda Smolow, Hadassah National President; Naomi Adler, Hadassah CEO; Destiny Albritton, National Outreach Director of the Israel On Campus Coalition, Ana Sazonov, former Executive Director of the Columbia Jewish Federation in South Carolina; Michelle Rojas-Tal, Hadassah’s former Zionist Scholar-in-Residence, and Danielle Rugoff, Head of Movement Activation, Product and Partnerships at Starts With Us.

“Women have always been a powerful voice to ensure Israel’s right to exist and to strengthen the close alliance between the US and Israel,” said Rhoda Smolow, Hadassah National President. “With nearly 300,000 members, donors and supporters in every congressional district across the country, Hadassah is the largest Jewish women’s organization and one of the oldest Zionist women’s organizations nationwide working to advance the US-Israel relationship for over 100 years.”

“A strong US-Israel relationship helps keep both our countries secure and facilitates opportunities and partnerships that accelerate innovation to solve global issues,” said Naomi Adler, Hadassah CEO. “As we celebrate Israel’s 75th anniversary, we’re proud to bring forward these extraordinary women whose work shows the world that support for Israel is critical and widespread.”

“As a strong supporter of the US-Israel relationship and Florida’s first Jewish congresswoman, I know that advancing the strategic alliance between the countries and combating antisemitism are critical priorities, and I’m so grateful for Hadassah’s leadership in advocating for this critical relationship and uplifting the work of women working to support Israel,” said Representative Wasserman Schultz. "We must continue to support Israel’s ability to defend itself and thrive, as our ally and as a secure Jewish and democratic state.”

During the briefing, speakers discussed the importance of Congressional support for the US-Israel relationship, and the broad support for Israel and Zionism nationwide.

“As someone who spends her days fighting for democracy and the American experiment, I believe strongly that support for the largest democracy in the Middle East is in America’s best interest,” said Danielle Rugoff, a lifetime member of Hadassah and Head of Movement Activation, Product and Partnerships at Starts With Us. “I’m proud to speak with the other amazing women on this panel who are passionate about a strong US-Israel relationship and to see the overwhelming bipartisan support for Israel in Congress.”

“The strategic alliance between Israel and the United States, which advances mutual security and enables cultural exchange, is strengthened by the average American’s understanding of its importance and impact,” said Michelle Rojas-Tal, Hadassah’s former Zionist Scholar-in-Residence. “That’s why it is critical that we are united in our advocacy for the US-Israel relationship, regardless of our different backgrounds.”

“The Jewish community, both on and off campus, is experiencing antisemitism, and we as Americans must address it head-on together,” said Destiny Albritton, National Outreach Director of the Israel on Campus Coalition. “In my work, I teach students that Zionism is the movement for self-determination of the Jewish people in their ancestral homeland, but you do not have to be Jewish to be a Zionist.”

Speakers also discussed the impact of the US-Israel relationship worldwide, from humanitarian efforts to security partnerships to healthcare diplomacy, and the importance of supporting the mutual security of the two nations.

“Israel is on the forefront of helping with the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine,” said Ana Sazonov, former Executive Director of the Columbia Jewish Federation in South Carolina, who was born in Ukraine. “A strong and secure Israel is an active force for good in the world, and the US-Israel relationship and its strategic alliance are important not only to Israel’s security, but also to the security of all our allies.”

Hadassah has been the voice of American women who support Israel for over a century. In May, Hadassah released its inaugural list of “18 American Zionist Women You Should Know,” amplifying the work of a new generation of Zionists. On October 25 and 26, Hadassah will host its first Zionism symposium, “Inspire Zionism,” which will highlight the innovators infusing new energy into the Zionist movement and feature conversations about the complexities of Zionism.

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About Hadassah, The Women’s Zionist Organization of America:

Hadassah, The Women’s Zionist Organization of America, is the largest Jewish women’s organization in the United States. With nearly 300,000 members, donors and supporters, Hadassah brings women together to effect change on such critical issues as ensuring Israel’s security, combating antisemitism and promoting women’s health care. Through its Jerusalem-based hospital system, the Hadassah Medical Organization, Hadassah helps support exemplary care for more than 1 million people every year as well as world-renowned medical research. Hadassah’s hospitals serve without regard to race, religion or nationality and in 2005 earned a Nobel Peace Prize nomination for building bridges to peace through medicine. Hadassah also supports two youth villages that set at-risk youth in Israel on the path to a successful future. Visit www.hadassah.org or follow Hadassah on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Threads and X.