Tory Roman’s passion for Hadassah was ignited in 2019 when she witnessed the vital work of Hadassah’s hospitals and Youth Aliyah villages in Israel. A former Broadway actress and a full-time mom to 5-year-old twins, Tory was on a Hadassah-Momentum trip with eight other women, all mothers of young children.
After returning home to Piedmont, CA, a small city surrounded by Oakland, Tory realized that joining Hadassah wasn’t enough. She wanted to spread the sense of kesher (Hebrew for connection) — to Israel, to Hadassah, to like-minded women.
“Now is the time to create a strong community of women who want to make actionable change — and stand up for something wonderful happening in Israel,” says Tory. In 2020, with the support of Hadassah Central Pacific Coast President Leslie Deman, Tory founded Hadassah’s Kesher OAK Chapter.
Tory moved quickly, starting with her own network of working mothers in their 30s and 40s. “You’re not going to schedule any time for yourself unless you schedule time to meet up with your friends and raise money for a great organization,” she recalls telling her friends. During the pandemic, many appreciated the chance Kesher OAK gave them to connect and make a difference. Bringing in nearly 30 members in less than a year, Tory expects to attract even more with the return of in-person meetings.
When her chapter members expressed an interest in learning more about Israel, Tory eagerly got to work planning programs focused on Israeli history and culture. As a Jew by choice, Tory didn’t feel connected to her Jewish homeland until her first, life-changing trip to Israel in 2017 with her husband, Max. “I was really inspired by Israel, and it’s important for my kids to know that they have a place to go where they can feel safe as a Jew.”
She’s proud to be advancing Hadassah founder Henrietta Szold’s legacy. During her 2019 trip to Israel, she was moved by “the idea of a woman identifying a problem and then throwing herself into it and getting it done with other women.” That’s why Tory is creating
programs that “showcase the amazing work Jewish women are doing.”
For Tory, Hadassah helps her model advocacy, philanthropy and a love of Israel for her daughter, a life member, and her son, an Associate.
What’s next for Kesher OAK? Tory is busy planning future chapter events, including a (potential) in-person Sukkot program for her members. “These women have never met each other in person, just on Zoom,” Tory says, adding, “It will be fun to get everyone in a backyard under a sukkah and make connections.”
As featured in the 2020 Hadassah Annual Report, released in July 2021.
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