Not Your Grandmother's Hadassah

In honor of Women’s History Month, TC Jewfolk asked the local chapters of Hadassah and the National Council of Jewish Women for guest posts. This week’s column is by Joanna Lowinger, Communications Coordinator for Hadassah’s Upper Midwest Region.
It was January of 2007, I had just arrived in Charlotte, NC, and I wasn’t sure what I committed myself too. I said yes and there I was, walking into a room full of women I had never met, hoping that whatever it was I was about to do, would work.
I started introducing myself and for those that know me, you know I’m usually not the shy one, so this wasn’t hard, but it was different. As I talked to the 20 or so other women there, I realized I was standing in a room with some pretty amazing women, we were all in our 20’s and 30’s and we all wanted to make a difference.
We wanted the world, our worlds, our homes, our lives to be better. We were brought together to plan an event, which we did. I had my doubts – we were from all over the country (North Carolina, Florida, Chicago, Minneapolis and everywhere in-between), how would this work, how would we make this happen?
But, work, it did. It took several months of planning and coordinating – and outside of that first meeting in person, it was all done via email and conference calls. We created amazing programming for us to take back to our chapters and groups.
It was also that weekend I met two of my best girl friends, they were in this group of strong, intelligent and articulate women.
For some, it begins with the personal.
We met because of Hadassah; I stayed to make a difference.

Hadassah is about people, about changing lives, about Tikkun Olam–making the world a better place. We are focused on Health, Education, Youth and the Environment; Hadassah changes lives, one person at a time.
Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization of America, is a volunteer women’s organization, whose members are motivated and inspired to strengthen their partnership with Israel, ensure Jewish continuity, and realize their potential as a dynamic force in American society.
Committed to the centrality of Israel based on the renaissance of the Jewish people in its historic homeland, Hadassah promotes the unity of the Jewish people. In Israel, Hadassah initiates and supports pace-setting health care, education and youth institutions, and land development to meet the country’s changing needs.
In the United States, Hadassah enhances the quality of American and Jewish life through its education and Zionist youth programs, promotes health awareness, and provides personal enrichment and growth for its members.
This isn’t your grandmother’s Hadassah.
We are women in our 20’s, 30’s and 40’s, we are mothers, wives and partners, sisters, best friends, your next door neighbor, a mom in the playgroup for your kids and the lady next to you at the grocery store. And it’s not just for women; there is a whole branch for the men in our lives, the Associates: your father, husband/partner, brother, friends, son.
We are 300,000 strong in the U.S.!
What do we do, you ask? We gather for book clubs, mah johngg, leadership development training, social gatherings and to support the extraordinary life-enriching work of Hadassah in Israel and the United States.
We even gather for regional and national events. I’ve been to Charlotte, NC, and New York; in the coming year, you could attend the National Convention in Hollywood, FL, and in 2012 what better way to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Hadassah then to open a new in-patient tower of Hadassah Hospital in Israel.
Ok, I’m getting a little ahead of myself, Hadassah and I did many things in the last year, things we shouldn’t overlook. Here are just a few of those things:

  • Worldwide medical breakthrough combating macular degeneration, a disease causing blindness
  • The Sarah Wetsman Davidson Tower, under construction, will change the face of Israel and the medical map of the Middle East
  • Oral patch to prevent bad breath developed at Hadassah
  • Hadassah Medical Organization and Royal Melbourne Hospital jointly pioneer a blood test for detecting, monitoring and treating brain cancer
  • Successfully rallied for passing of Stem Cell legislation in the United States

For some, it begins with the personal.
I joined for Breast Health. I stayed for Zionism.
For others, it’s political.
I joined for Israel. I stayed for friendships.
For some, it starts with the past.
I joined for my mother. I stayed for my grandchildren.
For others, it’s always about tomorrow.
I joined when Israel was young. I stayed to see it grow older. I want to link my name to Israel’s future and to the future of the Jewish people. I want to help build the new Sarah Wetsman Davidson In-Patient Tower at Hadassah Hospital! Hadassah’s not waiting for the future; we’re building it!
Whether you are interested in meeting new people, advocating on issues important to you, learning about Israel and our projects there, or helping to grow our region in membership or development, we all share certain important values in common.
You can find more information about our upcoming programs and initiatives on our website –, and on Facebook at Hadassah Upper Midwest Region. We hope to see you at an event very soon.