Hadassah RI celebrates the group’s 112th anniversary


PROVIDENCE – Hadassah members and friends gathered in Brown/RISD Hillel’s cozy student lounge on March 17 to celebrate Hadassah’s 112th anniversary. Participants also learned about Shabbat Zachor (the Shabbat before Purim) and the Book of Esther, and discussed current Hadassah programs.

Hadassah members recounted the historic meeting that took place 112 years ago at Temple Emanuel, in New York City, weeks before Purim. The Hebrew name of Queen Esther, Hadassah, was adopted and the first Hadassah funds were raised to send the first two nurses to the Jewish and Arab inhabitants of pre-state Israel, who were desperately in need of medical care.

This was the beginning of Hadassah, The Women’s Zionist Organization of America, and the start of today’s thriving Hadassah hospitals and research centers, as well as many other world-class Israeli hospitals and medical centers.

Henrietta Szold, the founder and first president of Hadassah, led Temple Emanuel’s small Zionist study group in 1912, which later expanded to many more chapters in other U.S. cities.  Their goal was to practice a more hands-on Zionism by directly helping the pre-state Israel community.

The daughter of a distinguished rabbi, Benjamin Szold, Henrietta Szold was highly educated in Jewish studies and history, as well as in languages. She established the first American night school to help immigrants and she was the first woman to lead the Jewish Publication Society (JPS), where for many years she translated and edited books by Jewish scholars and rabbis, including Marcus Jastrow’s well-known Talmudic dictionary.

At the March 17 meeting, participants remembered those who were killed in the Israel-Hamas war, the bereaved families, the hostages and the wounded, and reflected on the lessons from Shabbat Zachor, which commands us to wipe out the Amalek, who preyed on the weak stragglers during Exodus, and the Book of Esther, with the failed genocide of the Jews.

Now, as then, we stand united to defeat evil and seek peace and welfare for all.

YARDENA KAPACH WINKLER is the president of Hadassah Rhode Island.

Hadassah, Rhode Island