It’s been three long years since I was last able to travel to Israel. For someone accustomed to returning to Israel frequently, it has felt like forever.
However, the two-week opportunity in November 2022 to attend an historic 100th Convention of Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization of America, Inc. (HWZOA) in Jerusalem, participate in the annual Hadassah International Leadership Retreat, and visit the two Hadassah Hospitals again was too good to miss. My husband Lionel and I packed our bags and off we went.
It was a wonderful trip. An opportunity to re-immerse myself in the achievements of both Hadassah Hospitals and Hadassah International, and to recharge my batteries so that I could return to Florida, sit at my computer, and inspire others with stories that touch the heart and soul.
I thoroughly enjoyed the HWZOA 100th Convention, with its glitz and fabulous sessions. But more important to me personally was that I was finally able to see with my own eyes the changes and progress that three years had wrought at the Hadassah Hospitals Ein Kerem and Mount Scopus which comprise the Hadassah Medical Organization.
Donning a hard hat on new construction sites became old hat! At Hadassah Hospital Ein Kerem, we were given an architect’s tour of the rebuilding from the inside out of the original iconic Round Building which has continued in leaps and bounds.
When I last saw it, the underground foundations were being strengthened. This time, I was able to enter the construction site and see how the building has been totally reconfigured, enabling considerable floor space extension on each level. Each room will still have a magnificent view of the Judaean hills. Two levels have been added, and an extra 200 much-needed beds will be available to help Hadassah serve a growing Jerusalem population in the 21st Century.
Wearing a hard hat again, this time as a part of the Hadassah International retreat, I toured the Gandel Rehabilitation Center at Hadassah Mount Scopus. Currently surrounded by cranes and construction paraphernalia, this innovative rehabilitation center is rising steadily atop Mount Scopus like a beacon of hope for the over one million people in the Jerusalem area (and well beyond) who will use its services in the years to come. Conceptually it is magnificent. Three years ago, it was merely a hole in the ground. I was wowed at the progress – the building is taking shape before our very eyes!!
I also had the opportunity to meet the people involved in Hadassah’s latest medical achievements. Days were spent walking the halls of the Hadassah Hospitals. Days were spent meeting doctors and patients and learning their remarkable stories. I took copious notes and photographs.
The Hadassah International Leadership Retreat was a real treat! People I had only seen on zoom for three years were there to hug in person. Fifty Hadassah International leaders, representing twenty-nine nationalities from the four corners of the world, including 11 time zones, 25 countries, and 17 languages, come together in Jerusalem for their first in-person meetings since the start of the Covid pandemic. They came to be reinspired by the work of their own hands, and to strengthen the ties that Hadassah International has built between so many countries around the world and the Hadassah Medical Organization.
As we analyzed our achievements, the opportunities they have opened, and how we could project them into the future, this retreat allowed Hadassah International to evaluate our remarkable success in organizing and facilitating Humanitarian Medical Missions around the world that showcase the expertise of the Hadassah Medical Organization. This has won us friends and supporters in every corner of the world, who are showing their appreciation with donations that will enhance Hadassah’s life-saving work. We are helping to heal the world.
On a personal note, I was surprised and extremely honored to receive a service award from Hadassah International. I was recognized for 22 years of volunteer service to Hadassah International and received a beautiful certificate featuring the twelve magnificent Chagall windows that grace the synagogue at Hadassah Hospital Ein Kerem. Recognition, especially as a volunteer, is always sweet.
As we concluded our Leadership Retreat, we had the opportunity to meet 40 members of the new Young Hadassah Without Borders, a group of young energetic, idealistic leaders from around the world who have found their cause in helping Hadassah, and who have started their journey to finding ways in which they too can become a part of the Hadassah International Family.
This trip to Jerusalem was special. It will sustain me for another year, until once again I can return to Israel.