— by Racheli Goldblatt
Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization of America, will mark a century of partnership with Israel with its Centennial Convention in Jerusalem. Two thousand Hadassah members arriving in Israel will celebrate Hadassah’s centennial participating in symposia, visits to Hadassah projects, a festive parade through Jerusalem, performances and gala events culminating with the dedication of the new Sarah Wetsman Davidson Hospital Tower, a 19-story state-of-the-art medical facility, and the presentation of Hadassah’s highest award, the Henrietta Szold Prize, to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
According to Hadassah National President Marcie Natan, presentation of the award to the Prime Minister symbolizes 100-years of partnership between the women of Hadassah and Israel, a connection. “We’re marking 100 years and committing ourselves to the next 100,” said Natan.
Hadassah grew last year by 10 percent and now has 330,000 members, active in Jewish life and dedicated donors to the work of Hadassah. The organization that brought modern health care and education to Israel continues to support advances in these fields and to serve as advocates for Israel in all 50 American states and around the world. Hadassah volunteers include major donors and grass-roots activists. Several hundred of the participants belong to the group called “Keepers of the Gate” who have committed to make an annual contribution of $1000 or more.
Celebration details after the jump.
As part of the centennial celebrations a series of events will be held in honor of the donors and their families. The activities will include:
- lectures by opinion makers and policymakers, personalized dedication ceremonies for donors in the Sarah Wetsman Davidson Hospital Tower at the Hadassah Medical Center at Ein Kerem; the opening of the Hadassah Heritage Center in the new Tower;
- a ceremony to recognize Hadassah’s continued long-time support of Youth Aliyah;
- its partnership with the Jewish National Fund and the launch of a stamp by the Israel Postal Service to honor Hadassah’s 100-year commitment to the State of Israel;
- a parade of the organization’s volunteers from Israel and abroad through the streets of Jerusalem,
as well as gala evenings to celebrate the organization’s century of work.
Heritage Center: On October 13 the launch of the Hadassah Heritage Center will take place in the lobby entrance to Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital adjacent to the “Chagall windows.” The Heritage Center is an interactive museum utilizing advanced technology that will feature the organization’s century of achievement.
Stamp and First Day Cover: To honor the organization’s achievements and its centennial celebrations the Israel Postal Service in partnership with the Hadassah will dedicate a stamp that features symbols of Hadassah’s activities in Israel which together will form a Magen David on a blue background with emblem of Hadassah and of the Hadassah Medical Center in the upper right-hand corner.
Dedications for Hadassah Donors at the Sarah Wetsman Davidson Hospital Tower at Hadassah Ein Kerem: Special ceremonies will be held to honor the Schwartz and Davidson families.
Conference — Three Day Symposium: As part of the Centennial celebration Hadassah delegates will attend discussions of major strategic issues related to Israel and Israeli society from expert speakers from the fields of academia, government and the media.
Youth Aliyah/JNF: A festive day of educational activities will recognize Hadassah’s commitment to education and immigration absorption. It will be held at the Hadassah Neurim Youth Village in partnership with the Jewish National Fund.
Gala Events: Two gala events will mark the Dedication of the Sarah Wetsman Davidson Tower (October 16) and 100 Years of Hadassah (October 18) at Binyenei Ha’uma. President Shimon Peres will address guests at the Tower Dedication and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will attend the latter which will include the presentation of the Henrietta Szold Prize to the Prime Minister.
Hadassah was founded on March 3, 1912 in New York by a group of women headed by Henrietta Szold, to advance efforts toward practical Zionist initiatives to foster and improve health and education conditions for women and children of Palestine. In 1912 two nurses are sent to set up a small public-health and welfare station in Jerusalem to provide maternity care and treat trachoma, then rampant in the Middle East. In 1918, a delegation of 45 doctors, nurses and maintenance established hospitals in Safed, Jaffa and Tiberius in addition to renewal of the hospital in Jerusalem. In 1920, Henrietta Szold arrived in Israel to aid the group and remained in the country until her death in 1945. Hadassah nurse, Bertha Landsman, in 1921 establishes the first toddlers’ health station that was to become known as “Tipat Chalav”. The same year also saw the opening of the Hadassah Hospital in Tel Aviv. In 1939 the Mount Scopus Hadassah University Hospital was inaugurated. At that time Hadassah also focused its efforts on Youth Aliyah (immigration) as one of its central goals and served as the chief financial support of such efforts. On April 13, 1948 a convoy of doctors, nurses and staff headed to Mount Scopus was attacked by Arab terrorists and in the slaughter that followed the attack all 78 members of the convoy were killed. 1949 Hadassah saw the opening of the Ramat Hadassah Youth Village which focused on absorption of children who had survived the holocaust and children of Yemenite olim (immigrants). The Hadassah Hospital University Center at in Ein Kerem was opened in 1960. In 1970 the organization established the Hadassah College to meet the significant need of skilled manpower to the technological, industrial, scientific and economic sectors in Israel. In 1975, following the Six Day War and the reunification of Jerusalem, the Medical Center at Mt. Scopus was re-opened. In 1983, “Hadassah International,” the international arm of Hadassah, was founded. In the same year Hadassah-Israel, a group of Hadassah women who had immigrated from the United States to Israel, was founded as the organization’s local Israeli branch.
The 330,000 members of Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization of American continue their legacy in Israel to this day. Hadassah continues to lead in the field of education with the operation of three youth villages (“Meir Shfeya”, “Hadassah Neurim”, and “Ramat Hadassah Szold”) for youth at risk and with the Hadassah College in Jerusalem; and in the field of health and medical care and research, it’s three world renowned medical facilities. Current research at Hadassah Medical Organization is cutting edge, including that related to stem cells and medical technology, and is a key aspect of Israel’s leading role in medical research. With the dedication of Hadassah’s Sarah Wetsman Davidson Hospital Tower at the Centennial Celebrations, the Hadassah women look forward to their 2nd Century continuing the Hadassah legacy of uniting advanced educational and medical technologies with the spirit of healing.