Sunday, September 25, 2022

Teaneck, NJ—Maybe you’ve been to Hadassah Medical Center in Israel as a tourist: to view the beautiful stained glass Chagall windows or, as a patient, to get world-class medical care. Hadassah Hospital was founded and is still supported by Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization of America. It’s the most visible, but far from the only beneficiary of Hadassah women.

Women have joined Hadassah since it began over 100 years ago to demonstrate their love and support for Israel and to meet others who felt the same way. But today, the elephant in the room of many chapters is the aging of its members. To bring fresh ideas and energy to Hadassah, Loren Roth, president of the Northern New Jersey region, has spearheaded an exploratory get-together for Bergen County’s young Jewish women in their twenties through forties on December 12 at Shelley’s Restaurant in Teaneck to talk about how they can get involved in Hadassah and what kind of programing they would like.

“Many young Jewish women today are looking for volunteer opportunities but have different needs and interests than women of retirement age,” Roth said. “We want to bring them together, in a focus group format, to have a free-flowing discussion about what they can do and tell them about all the different causes Hadassah supports like health care, education and Israel advocacy.”

Roth said she chose Shelley’s since Teaneck is centrally located in Bergen County and women who keep kosher will be comfortable. “Hadassah brings together all Jewish women with the common goal of supporting Jewish and Zionist causes,” Roth said.

Like many Hadassah women, Leslie Felner, Regional VP and Co-President of the Fair Lawn chapter, got involved as a newcomer to town. “When my daughter started nursery school, the president of the chapter, whose children went to the same school, called me and asked me to come to a meeting. I was brand new in town and wanted to meet people. The organization really spoke to me, so I became active.” Now she sees “an explosion of young people” moving to Fair Lawn, looking for meaningful involvement as well as new friends. “That’s what Hadassah offered me and can offer them,” Felner said.

As membership coordinator for the Northern New Jersey region, Gail Black, chairperson of the Shelley’s event, is the person women call when they become interested in Hadassah. “At first I would get one or two requests from young women; then I’d get six or seven. I told Loren and she suggested having a dinner to get all the young women together. I thought it was a great idea.”

Black joined Hadassah in her hometown of Caldwell after her mother-in-law, who was very involved in Hadassah, passed away. “I wanted to do something in her memory, so I gave a donation to Hadassah. As I learned more about what Hadassah does, I became very active. I have a strong connection to Israel and I’m very proud of my Judaism. That’s what Hadassah inspires.”

The Hadassah Young Women’s Focus Group will meet on December 12, 7:00p.m. at Shelley’s Vegetarian Café and Restaurant, 482 Cedar Lane, Teaneck. For more information, contact Gail Black at blackfam_hotmail.com or call her at 973-226-1297.

By Bracha Schwartz

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