Above: Echoing a lineup from 50 years ago, the women who have led Hadassah in Atlanta line up in front of the Grand Hyatt stage.

More than 400 people packed into the ballroom at the Grand Hyatt in Buckhead on Sunday night, Oct. 30, to celebrate the centennial of Hadassah in Atlanta.

The Women’s Zionist Organization, which formed in New York in 1912, came to Atlanta at a meeting of 18 women Nov. 2, 1916, and Hadassah Greater Atlanta marked the occasion by honoring three women, representing the organization’s past, present and future:

  • Rae Frank, of blessed memory, was a Southeastern Hadassah president who was a pivotal leader in Atlanta in the middle of the 20th century.

    Larry Frank accepts the centennial honor on behalf of his later mother, Rae, while his wife, Lois, and Phyllis Cohen listen.

    Larry Frank accepts the centennial honor on behalf of his later mother, Rae, while his wife, Lois, and Phyllis Cohen listen.

“I’m so honored that Hadassah is honoring my mother,” said Larry Frank, who with his wife, Lois, accepted the recognition on behalf of his mother. He recalled initially being afraid of the photo of Hadassah founder Henrietta Szold on the wall when he was a little boy before he grew to appreciate what he called the dominant Jewish organization in the period of World War II and the birth of Israel.

Lois Frank said Hadassah for her mother-in-law was all about the lifelong friendships.

  • Virginia Saul served as Hadassah’s president in Atlanta twice and as a group president once and recalled chairing its 50th and 75th anniversary celebrations.

She said she joined Hadassah early in 1950, just after she returned from her honeymoon. A friend visited her to get three checks: $5 for Hadassah dues, $5 for the Ahavath Achim Synagogue Sisterhood dues and $36 for the Jewish Welfare Board. “Those were the first three checks I wrote after I was married.”

Saul said it’s important for people to understand that Hadassah can teach them values and skills they can apply in their jobs and elsewhere.

  • Renée Rosenheck, like many of Hadassah Greater Atlanta’s nearly 3,000 members, said she received a life membership in Hadassah as a gift from her mother but at first didn’t know what to do with it. But she learned more about the organization, whose members kept reaching out to her to get involved.

    Renée Rosenheck accepts the honor of representing the future of Hadassah Greater Atlanta.

    Renée Rosenheck accepts the honor of representing the future of Hadassah Greater Atlanta.

Rosenheck, a third-generation life member, said she realized that Hadassah is much more than the hospitals in Jerusalem.

A pivotal time for her was when she was one of 25 young women across the country, and the only one in the Southeast, accepted into Hadassah’s first two-year National Leadership Fellows program.

The gala, chaired by Linda Hakerem and Martha Jo Katz, was the culmination of a yearlong celebration, led by Phyllis Cohen, that began with the opening of an exhibit at the Breman Museum and included the hosting of the Hadassah National Convention in downtown Atlanta.

Photos by Michael Jacobs