Guest Column by Paula S. Zucker
Rosh Hashanah is a time of new beginnings. I remember as a child getting new clothes for Rosh Hashanah, going to shul, seeing friends. Even now, so many years later, it is with a sense of anticipation that I prepare for the holidays with the cooking and the coming together of family and friends.
Everyone I meet is talking about what they are doing for the holidays.
This year as Hadassah Greater Atlanta’s centennial year comes to a close, I also feel a sense of poignancy. It has been a very special year. So many of our community have attended the events we planned — even more than anticipated — and shared in what makes Hadassah special.
As part of our planning, we had a chance to look back at our chapter and the women who had their part in its history. Passionate, caring women facing many of the same challenges we have today took the time to create and be part of something wonderful.
During those years, women received the right to vote, advocated for civil rights, watched husbands and sons go to war, and still had the optimism to believe that they could make a difference for our Jewish community and the world at large and would witness the establishment of the state of Israel.
We still embody those values. More and more, we stand strong to face the challenges that come to us personally, professionally and as part of the amazing Jewish community we call home. We greet those challenges with fortitude as we know that we have the ability to make a better world.
All of us who share in Hadassah’s mission know we have embraced the Jewish value of tikkun olam, repairing the world. We work hand in hand with the doctors, nurses, researchers, teachers and staff at the Hadassah Medical Organization to fight the good fight against disease, prejudice and apathy.
We are the backbone of Israel’s current health system. We are there when disaster strikes anywhere around the world because Israel is first on the ground in so many countries when there are natural disasters.
It makes us proud to know we as a people have the rachmoness to reach out to others despite our differences. It is also a fact that when there are attacks against the people of Israel, the worst cases are brought to Hadassah to be treated. It is inconceivable to imagine our world without an Israel.
It was Henrietta Szold, our founder, who, when asked by an artist how she would like to be portrayed, said, “Make my eyes look toward the future.”
Simple but wise words, for the past has been, and we must learn from it, but it is the future that holds unlimited possibilities. It is possibility that builds hope — hope for a better future, a better world and a better self.
Hadassah has always been an organization of visionaries. It is why it is the leader in research in service to humanity. Hadassah envisions what could be. Its sophisticated, state-of-the-art, visionary medical research has led the way, resulting in clinical trials in the treatment of ALS and macular degeneration and experimentation with vaccines for diabetes and cancer.
In the United States we have made our voices heard in advocating for genetic equality in medical research, led in launching a national Coalition for Women’s Health Equity, confirmed our opposition to limit or deny civil rights to members of the LGBTQ community, and stood strong with Israel to combat the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement.
So with this new year, 5777, let us come together in peace to make our community stronger, embrace the stranger as Abraham did, and support the state of Israel.
To each of you and your families, shana tova u’metuka: May you be inscribed in the Book of Life and have a very happy and sweet new year.
Paula S. Zucker is the president of Hadassah Greater Atlanta.