Good evening everyone – I still have to pinch myself to believe that Stan and I, are really here as the honourees at Special Gifts 2021! This honour usually goes to Past National H-I Presidents or other ‘celebrities’.
Today we humbly accept the accolade - not only on behalf of Haifa Oren Chapter members, but also for Chapter members, throughout Israel, who beaver away, volunteering their time on H-I community projects and raising funds for them, as well as for Hadassah Hospital - for major projects, such as the current Alzheimer’s Research one.
In a few months, I shall celebrate 20 years since I first joined Oren Chapter, Haifa . . . when you agree to become the ‘Refreshments Hostess’, they don’t tell you that your next role is ‘Chapter President!
Way back in 2005, I began driving to J’m to represent our then President, Barbara Fox, at National Meetings and before long, I was hooked!
In Jan 2006 I was ‘installed’ by Miriam Griver and I asked her to tell the audience about the W@R Café v’Siach (Coffee & Conversation) Project. Several of our personal friends, including Doreen Feingold & Joanna Ben Yehuda, immediately rushed to join H-I and, together with Zyta Eliyahu and 3 others, trained and established the project in Haifa. . . and it ran very successfully for 14 years until Corona struck.
We set our sights high and began planning more ambitious FR events, such as Concerts and Bazaars in public locations, with loads of help from Marilyn Dori & Leah Shavit.
This is where Stan first came on to the H-I scene. Until then he was just happy, that I was so busy with Hadassah business that I didn’t complain about the long hours he was working for Glidat Strauss! From then on, each year until he retired, he organised, with the OK of his boss, the use of a truck and a very helpful driver to transport our piles of goods to the bazaar site in the Hadar neighbourhood.
The most ambitious event we ever staged was the ‘Oren Art Event’ in October 2007, for which we received wonderful help from Marva Levine z”l. It even made the Jerusalem Post Magazine, with an article by Wendy Blumfield.
After 3 very active years as Oren President, ably assisted by Valerie Serkes and the rest of the Board. I handed over to Leah Shavit, who nobly led the Chapter for 9 years, much of the time alone but, for spells, with Helen Levy or Gila Shapiro as Co-Presidents. For most of thistime I continued on the Board and gave Leah as much support as I could - as well as volunteering on our C@R Project.
Having stepped down for a break, I found myself in the role of Chair of the 2010 National Conference Committee – our Haifa team put in a lot of effort to make this a successful event.
In Jan 2018, I stepped back into the Chapter President role and, together with the Board, have worked to adapt to the changing needs of, what is now, what I call a ‘Golden Age’ Chapter.
We moved steadily along. . . and then Covid struck! It took a little while to get our heads round it but, by May 2020, Oren was on Zoom – at first for its Monthly Meetings with Guest Speakers, and we even managed a ‘mask-to-mask’ ‘Meet at the Beach’ and a ‘Summer Supper’ in between the 1st & 2nd Lockdowns.
Then, during the Chagim last year, I realised just how lonely many of our members must be locked-down at home . . . . and I had an idea for a short weekly Zoom, which we called a Zoom Zocial with an easy discussion topic each time. I expected to run it for just a few weeks but it caught on and attracted, not only Oren members from around the North, whom we’d never seen before . . . but also members of other Chapters, and friends of members living overseas. Up till June 2021, I hosted 24 Zoom Zocials, interspersed with Monthly Zoom lectures, featuring guest speakers from around Israel and overseas; as well as in-person mini-fundraisers, whenever it was permitted.
Ever since Stan retired in 2011, he has been extremely supportive of everything we’re doing in H-I and WE, together with the Oren Board, make a pretty active team! . . . and we value the helpful support from Rivka Cooper & Jane Bouchard, our Co-Liaisons for ES Chapters.
Today, we’d like to say a HUGE THANK YOU to the SG Committee, headed by Anne Rothenberg;……to Michal Shmueli our National President; to Lona Lehr, whom we in Oren Chapter call ‘WONDERWOMAN’ and to the other Staff - Anita and Shosh - for organising this event; to Howie & his Elite Band for great entertainment and, of course, to ALL OF YOU – family, personal friends and Hadassah friends, for coming to this very special event and making such generous donations.
Please raise your glasses -the toast is ‘HADASSAH-ISRAEL’ – L’Haim!