Dallasites named to Hadassah’s ‘18 American Zionist Women You Should Know’
By Deb Silverthorn
Hadassah, The Women’s Zionist Organization of America, has introduced its first “18 American Zionist Women You Should Know” list, in which Dallas’ Shiva Delrahim Beck and Danielle Rugoff are featured. The list is one of many ways Hadassah is recognizing the passion, purpose and pride of Jewish women in honor of Israel’s 75th anniversary.
“Hadassah is evolving and relevant, proudly Zionist and Jewish, not political and not affiliated with any one branch of Judaism,” said Naomi Adler, Hadassah CEO and a Dallas native.
“There are women in their 100s who have been involved for decades, and b’not mitzvah girls getting started. This is an organization that brings friends together to socialize and learn, to feel bold and safe, all at once,” Adler added.
Hadassah’s Zionist achievements are historical beyond the organization’s 112 years, critical to the infrastructure of Israel before its statehood and a great part of what modern Israel is now.
“We’re reminding people of our history and what Hadassah looks like in our future. Shiva and Danielle are outstanding examples of just who we are,” said Adler.
Beck was born in Iran. In 1979, after the Islamic Revolution, she immigrated to Los Angeles, California, with her family and was raised in the Persian Jewish community there. While in high school, she decided to become an attorney.
“It was learning of the constitutionality of executing those with intellectual disabilities that shocked me. I wanted to overturn it. Fortunately, it was overturned in my third year of law school, so I redirected my efforts,” said Beck, who earned her bachelor’s and law degrees from University of California Los Angeles.
Beck became involved in the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, through which she served on the National Young Leadership Cabinet (NYLC). During a 2013 tour that included St. Petersburg, Russia, she met her bashert, Dallas native Jarrod Beck, also a NYLC member; the couple married nine months later.
Beck worked as special counsel at Locke Lord, senior attorney at Gardere Wynne Sewell and special counsel at Foley & Lardner. She then realized that spending time away from her children — Joshua, Jonathan and Lillian — would have to involve doing something to impact their future. That something was working for Israel.
Beck’s decision came easily after back-to-back phone calls with a client regarding his case and conversations supporting the Ukrainian situation. “I finished that case but knew going forward that Israel, and whatever matters in my children’s lives now and in their future, would come first.”
Beck serves on the board of the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas and the Board of Governors of The Jewish Agency for Israel. She’s led missions to Azerbaijan and Turkey and has visited Israel 10 times since 2016. She’s honored to be named one of Hadassah’s 18 and to help introduce Hadassah and its efforts to all generations.
“I want to share Israel in the best light. Because I was born in Iran, and we left because of the revolution, it’s not so far off to think we live in a country where we are not welcome. I know, though, I know Israel would always take us in. We must protect her,” said Beck.
Rugoff, a Dallas native, former Judy Kravitz BBG BBYO board member and sweetheart to David Berger AZA, graduated from Richardson Law Magnet High School and then the University of Texas (UT) at Austin. At UT she first became involved in AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee) and served on the boards of Hillel and Texans for Israel and as student body president. Her passion and fire for Israel has been lit as long as she can remember.
“In my high school history class there were two chapters about World War II and maybe two sentences that expressed, ‘Some claim there were 6 million Jews killed. This phenomenon has come to be called the Holocaust.’ Sadie Funk and I talked to our teacher and gave an entire class period to teach the truth about the Holocaust,” she said.
Rugoff grew up at the Aaron Family JCC’s (Jewish Community Center) Camp Chai and other programs and Congregation Beth Torah. She and her husband, Rabbi David Singer, are affiliated with Congregation Shearith Israel.
Since her first trip to Israel, Rugoff’s love and respect for the land, and all it is, has never waned.
“I got there and I was home. Home in a sense I’d never known, and that connection has only grown over the years. I’ve been associated with and spoken to Hadassah chapters throughout my career and I’m grateful to be among the voices of those standing up, and speaking out, for Israel,” she said.
Rugoff is senior director of movement programs for Starts With Us, which fights extreme political and cultural divisions. Her 20-plus years of experience have focused on the US-Israel relationship, American foreign policy and Jewish peoplehood through regional and national positions with AIPAC and Hillel International. She was statewide director of Florence Shapiro’s Texas state senate campaign and is a Schusterman Family Foundation ROI community member and an alumna of the Dallas Mayor’s Star Council. She serves on the boards of directors of the American Jewish Committee, Dallas chapter; Dallas Jewish Historical Society; Dallas Summit; Texas Lyceum; and Trinity River Audubon Center.
Hadassah’s first Zionist scholar-in-residence, Michelle Rojas Tal — who’s known Beck and Rugoff for years — helped compile Hadassah’s 18.
“It’s important we share the impact and wide spectrum of these women, who hold a multitude of identities and who, from a place of values, epitomize what a Zionist looks like today,” said Rojas-Tal, former shlicha (emissary) at Hillel International, director of Israel Fellows Program at The Jewish Agency and community outreach liaison with
“Shiva and Danielle are that and more and their Texas charm is approachable and warm. It’s their example that we want to share in continuing conversations of Hadassah in the most relatable ways,” she added.
Joining Beck and Rugoff in the honors are Amy Albertson, Laura Ben-David, Mayim Bialik, Daniella Greenbaum Davis, Rayna Rose Exelbierd, Rabbi Rachel Marder, Megan Nathan, Zoya Raynes, Tabby Refael, Ana Sazonov, Emily Schrader, Naava Shafner, Leah Soibel, Margot Stern, ChayaLeah Sufrin and Melissa Weiss.
Hadassah’s 18 is part of a larger effort demonstrating the breadth and diversity of thought, approach, politics and ethnicity in today’s Zionism, especially among younger female Zionists.
In October, Hadassah will host “Inspire Zionism: Tech, Trailblazers and Tattoos,” its first annual Zionist symposium with programs of social media and Israeli TV and music, Zionists balancing multiple identities including those of color, those of the LGBTQIA community and those forging paths in politics, industry and academia.
“We’re meeting the Zionists of yesteryear, today and the future with a broad range of backgrounds and ideas,” said Hadassah Zionist educator Diana Diner, who, with Rojas-Tal, reviewed many qualified Zionist women to create this year’s final 18. “We’re redefining and reclaiming what Zionism means to our membership and showing we’re the place for intergenerational conversations about Israel.”
“Israel’s existence and ability to protect herself as a state is miraculous and paramount. Jews in the Diaspora, and in Israel, are inexplicably linked and responsible for one another. Without Israel’s strength and vibrancy, we don’t exist. We are strong as Jews in America because Israel is strong,” said Rugoff.