Dallas Hadassah turns 100 April 7
Photo: Courtesy Hadassah 
Hadassah National President Carol Ann Schwartz, shown visiting the site of the Nova Music Festival and Memorial, will be the keynote speaker at the Dallas Hadassah 100 Celebration on Sunday, April 7, 2024.

By Deb Silverthorn

Dallas Hadassah is commemorating its centennial year as a chapter. At 7 p.m. on Sunday, April 7, at Congregation Beth Torah, the community is invited to celebrate at a pareve dessert reception with the chapter’s membership joined by regional and national leadership with entertainment by Joram Wolanow.

The organization is settled deep in spirit, support and significant contributions locally, nationally and to its flagship beneficiary, Hadassah Hospital in Israel.

Local chapter members Susan Blum Barnett, Lorri Dickstein, Shirley Frankl, Devora Rubin, Risa Weinberger and Dorothy Zarbo will reflect on Dallas Hadassah’s history. Last month, Zarbo was inducted as the chapter’s president. She is among the founders of the chapter’s Lillian Wald Nurses & Allied Health Professionals Council.

Photo: Courtesy Susie Avnery
In 2022, Dallas Hadassah Past President and Regional Board Member Susie Avnery and (not shown) Amy Applebaum participated in a Hadassah convention in Israel. The group visited a construction site at Hadassah Hospital’s Ein Kerem campus for which Dallas Hadassah raised considerable funds.

“I am in awe of what the women of Dallas Hadassah have accomplished over the last century. It is truly an honor to represent who we are today,” said Zarbo. “As a young child I helped my mother, who was a member, by taking calls at home from people wanting to support Hadassah’s hospital by buying bricks. In junior high I hosted a booth at a fair and sold material scraps and the money went to Hadassah. It’s been important and meaningful to me all of my life.

“I’m so proud of our lasting and very special group that advocates and is hands-on in so many meaningful ways,” said Zarbo. “My daughter, daughter-in-law and granddaughter are Life Members; my son and son-in-law are Associate Members, as will be my grandsons. I’m humbled and grateful. As my goal in life is to put people together, I invite all of our community to join us.”

Through the years, Dallas’ Hadassah chapter has had many impressive links to its national umbrella. Naomi Adler is the daughter of Carol and Samuel Adler; Samuel was a music director at Temple Emanu-El. Adler is Hadassah’s immediate past CEO and a third generation connected to the organization. She has deep ties to Dallas although she moved to Ohio as an infant with her family.

Photo: Courtesy Susie Avnery 
Dallas Hadassah members, always connecting with the community, at the 2022 Dallas Kosher Chili Cook-off.

Dallas residents Shiva Delrahim Beck and Danielle Rugoff were named last year to Hadassah’s inaugural “18 American Zionist Women You Should Know” list. Local author Nancy Churnin in 2021 published “A Queen to the Rescue: The Story of Henrietta Szold, Founder of Hadassah.”

The Dallas chapter participated in “Check It Out,” a breast cancer awareness program focused on disease prevention and screening for the purpose of early detection and treatment. Its members founded the first Chai Society philanthropy group in its region. In 2022, the Dallas chapter undertook a substantial fundraising effort for the Hadassah Medical Organization.

Jo Reingold, a local chapter past-president and former regional board member, is chair of Dallas Hadassah’s 100th Birthday celebration. At her request, she received a lifetime membership to the organization from her father when she graduated from college.

“This event is to recognize, appreciate and honor all that we have achieved in the last 100 years and that is no small task. Our chapter, and its amazing membership, has done so much,” said Reingold. “As we move on, we’ll continue to raise awareness, give support and build relationships among ourselves and throughout the greater Hadassah community.

“We are all strong Zionists and our love for Israel always remains deep in our hearts,” Reingold added.

Photo: Courtesy Susie Avnery 
Throughout its 100 years, Dallas Hadassah has sent representatives to conventions. In 1999 in Washington, D.C., the group included Ruth Stern (standing in the front row, far right), of blessed memory. Stern, who served as a Dallas Hadassah and Greater Southwest Region president, was an involved Life Member until her passing at the age of 98 in 2021.

In the wake of the pandemic Hadassah transitioned to an all-remote operation and raised $9 million for the Hadassah Medical Organization’s response to COVID-19. Last year, Hadassah, Hadassah International and the Hadassah Medical Organization worked together to raise $2 million, which sent physicians from the medical center to the Poland-Ukraine border and displaced Ukrainian teens to Hadassah’s youth villages in Israel. The collaboration led to the three organizations receiving a 2023 Genesis Prize.

Karen Kessler and Esther Friedman, president and vice-president of the Greater Southwest Region — which includes most of Texas, Oklahoma and Shreveport, Louisiana — and Carol Ann Schwartz, national president over nearly 700 chapters, will be in attendance and participate in the festivities. Schwartz is part of a four-generation Hadassah family.

“Hadassah’s overriding goal has been to help Israel flourish,” said Schwartz. “That means many things, chief among them supporting the land and people of Israel and making sure that the Hadassah Medical Organization remains a pillar of healing and a symbol of the most advanced medical care and research Israel has to offer.

“We’re continuing the emergency fundraising campaign launched when the war started; we’re pushing for Senate support of emergency aid to Israel and for the International Committee of the Red Cross to live up to its mission and to look into the welfare of the Hamas hostages,” Schwartz added. “I’m involved with ‘End The Silence’ to raise awareness of Hamas’ brutal sexual violence against Israeli women and girls on and after Oct. 7. Last week I hosted a briefing highlighting the irrefutable evidence of Hamas’ war and the delivery of a petition with signatures of nearly 130,000 Hadassah supporters to U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres demanding action, justice and accountability.”

Photo: Courtesy Susie Avnery
For 100 years Dallas Hadassah has held symposiums and conversations about overall health. Dallas Hadassah’s Jo Reingold thanked Dr. Jaime Davidson, clinical professor of medicine at the Touchstone Diabetes Research Center at UTSW, after a November 2022 presentation about diabetes.

The 1924 founding of the Dallas chapter was attempt No. 2 for a strong-willed group of women. Six years after Henrietta Szold founded the organization in 1912, a chapter was formed with Lillie H. Berwald (Mrs. Julius) as the first president. Szold even made a visit here. While the chapter folded shortly thereafter, its resurgence in 1924 lasted and today it remains true to its ideals.

Hadassah’s mission to inspire a passion for and commitment to the land, people and future of Israel has endured through its Dallas links in its first century. The organization looks ahead to a bright future.

“Hadassah has so much to offer. We want Jewish women at all ages and stages of life to know that, regardless of their involvement in Jewish life, they have a home at Hadassah,” said Schwartz, “and we can give them an address for their Jewish selves.”

For more details and to RSVP, visit tinyurl.com/Dallas-Hadassah-100.

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