Hope Blecher
Hadassah Educators Council

Hadassah Membership Has Its Advantages And Privileges

Author Hope Blecher, Ed. D with her Bruce Springsteen memorabilia and her Hadassah Certificate of Achievement.  Photo courtesy of the author.
Author Hope Blecher, Ed. D with her Bruce Springsteen memorabilia and her Hadassah Certificate of Achievement. Photo courtesy of the author.

Hadassah members hail from all around the globe. There are many reasons people become members of Hadassah and yes, it is open to you, too.

My membership began with a friend’s gift. Over the years, I did not attend meetings or events as I felt disconnected. To this day, I don’t play Mah jong and yes, I have tried to learn and enjoy it. Simply, we aren’t a good fit.

During the pandemic, I did seek out a Hadassah chapter. I found ways to participate via ZOOM programming opportunities. From Every Move Counts to the author chats, from virtual tours of Jewish Paris to writing these blog posts, Hope and Hadassah have connected.

Hope is my given English name. As far as I know, I do not have a Yiddish name. Each summer, our family has a joke about names. It goes back forty years or so to summertime chats with my mom and siblings.

For a few years, baseball legend Hank Aaron and rock superstar Bruce Springsteen were Jewish, at least in our house. Afterall, with transistor radios, black and white televisions with rabbit ear antennas and no remotes, oh gosh, take a breath to recall or imagine that!

Without the internet, without Alexa or Siri, we thrived with the Encyclopedia Britannica, baseball cards with bubble gum, and stoop chats. The daily black and white newspaper with the treat of the colored Sunday funnies was our source for visual media.

This is why for a few years, the younger me believed that Hank Aaron and Bruce Springsteen were Jewish. What’s the sound of the name? Let’s agree not to talk about stereotypes or tropes. I am sharing the innocence of childhood with a smile.

Our family didn’t frequent the Borscht Belt. I have no experiences in a bungalow colony or road trips to the Catskills or Florida. Nor did we have relatives to visit in Israel. Our trips when dad could take vacation, were by car to Williamsburg, VA and to Massachusetts. In between we visited Cooperstown and Corning, among a few other areas.

Along the way, we sat with our transistor radios and earphones because the car was set to the station for traffic and dad’s talk radio. Sometimes, we listened to the sports station, and it would be the NY Mets.

Rest stops were stretch stops. These were times to pish and get a treat and hop back into the car. Somehow, without the GPS and WAZE, dad knew how far he could go to get gas. Our treat was a Slim Jim, maybe a stop at HoJos and then onwards. Driving was a daytime adventure.

Yet, this summer of 2022, while at a stop for a concert at Bethel Woods, two words that my kids tell me I pronounce as if it’s the name of a shul, we did use Google to check a name and a performer.

The “he” was Josh Groban. After listening to him sing and chat with the audience, I realized that if he were to be the chazzan at a shul, I could listen for hours to the songs and services. With phone in hand and Wi-Fi access, I searched and found a bit about him. With apologies to librarian friends, the source was Wikipedia.

There, in black and white, was the kernel, the golden nugget. Josh Groban had Jewish roots back on both his mother’s and father’s lineage. And he played Tevye in a high school production of Fiddler on The Roof!

The rest of the evening, his performance took on a different shade, at least for us. Listening, gleaning and imagining. Cantor Josh Groban of “Beth El Woods” in the house.

As a member of Hadassah, I’ve written about the name of our organization. From the roots of the myrtle to the hope of Hatikvah, names have significance. As we prepare for the High Holiday Season, we’ll greet family and friends, kvel at the newborns, and remember those no longer with us.

We utter names.

May we find comfort in those names. May we have fun recollections of name games and possibilities.

As we circle back to what brings you to Hadassah, it can be walking, baking, writing, praying, advocacy, funding medical research in Israel and so much more. I have found comfort in writing, and to be frank, this is the way I have the means to spread the word about Hadassah. It can start with a small step and progress to leaps and bounds. Wander, you aren’t lost, you are finding what fits.

Shalom to all and may the upcoming High Holiday Season be one of health and peace.

Ayelet Sarah aka Hope Sara

Purchase your High Holiday Cards through Hadassah at this link.
Watch Hope Blecher in Hadassah’s Every Move Counts video at this link.

About the Author
Dr. Hope Blecher, a member of the Hadassah Educators Council and the Hadassah Writers' Circle, has been working in the field of education for 37 years. Currently, she serves as an English as a Second Language teacher for an adult education program in NJ. Recently, she became the founder of Previously, Hope served in capacities from being the first Middle School Curriculum Coordinator and Humanities teacher for a yeshiva in Teaneck, NJ, to serving in public schools as the Director of Curriculum and Instruction, and the Supervisor of English Literacy, Social Studies and Media Services. Dr. Hope Blecher holds multiple standard NJDOE issued certifications that she has used by serving as an adjunct professor, a teacher of high school students with special needs, English Language Learners K-adult, and those in the elementary age level classrooms. Along with friends and colleagues, Hope co-authored educational books and articles. She earned a BA in Sociology, an MA in Early Childhood Education, and an Ed.D. in Teacher Leadership. She has been a member of Hadassah for over a decade, first in the Southern NJ chapter and currently in the Lower New York State chapter.
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