Friends in deed

By Dalia Itzik

The Jerusalem Post

17/01/2010 19:35

One cannot put a price tag on the dedication of an army of 300,000 volunteers in the Diaspora.

 

Hadassah's national board will be visiting Israel next week. Like many institutions in America, Hadassah had a tough year in 2009. But all who know its history also know that when the going gets tough, Hadassah rises to the challenge.

The women of Hadassah built their first hospital on Mount Scopus during the  Great Depression. Their national convention was held here in the middle of the second intifada. They were with us in wars and times of economic stress. Others cancelled; but Hadassah came in full force. Of course, they have also come here in good times, but were never deterred by the worst of times.

For me personally, as an Israeli and as a Jerusalemite, Hadassah has a special place in my heart. One cannot think of Jerusalem without thinking of Hadassah, without thinking of its excellent health services, its training institutions, its youth programs which all ensure that our children and grandchildren stay connected.

HADASSAH IS today an organization of very dedicated and focused women headed by Nancy Falchuk. Women who serve as models of all that is beautiful and good in our Jewish ideals; women who do not just preach about what needs to be done, but get up and carry out the crucial mission they have taken on themselves. It is an organization of women who work day and night for the cause and - together with the talent and charisma of Prof. Shlomo Mor Yosef, as their director-general - have made Hadassah the amazing organization it is today.

When I was deputy mayor of Jerusalem, I remember the late Teddy Kollek saying that during the Sinai Campaign in 1956, it was a Hadassah mission that broke the downward spiral in tourism.

"With this kind of precedent," he wrote during his last year as Jerusalem's mayor, "I was not at all surprised 35 years later, when Hadassah moved part of its 1991 mid-winter convention to Jerusalem, arriving here even as Saddam Hussein's Scuds were falling."

FOR ALMOST a century, Hadassah has been building Israel. When we declared independence, we didn't need to establish a medical infrastructure, because Hadassah had already built it for us.

After all these generations, Hadassah's hospitals are still at the forefront of Israeli medical treatment and research. Hadassah today continues to be a vital and significant factor in our health and well-being.

Hadassah youth aliya villages, which rescued so many children from the Holocaust, continue to be pioneers in education for at-risk children. Young Judaea, the leading Diaspora Zionist youth movement, still expresses Hadassah values.

During its lifetime it has raised billions of dollars for Israel. But Hadassah's real value is incalculable. One cannot put a price tag on the dedication of an army of 300,000 volunteers in the Diaspora, defending Israel and helping us build bridges to the rest of the world.

Israel will always stand by Hadassah, because Hadassah has always stood by Israel.

The writer is a Kadima MK.