Barbara Scheinberg first became involved in Hadassah just five years ago, but once aboard, she found herself all in.
“Something about it just touched my heart and my spirit,” said Scheinberg, who assumed her post as president of Hadassah’s Greater Pittsburgh Chapter this past January. “I’ve been very involved since Day 1.”
Scheinberg, who is retired from a career helping high school children with special needs, has been “enjoying every minute” of her presidency of the local chapter of the women’s Zionist organization and has already initiated some changes designed to increase involvement among the group’s 2,800 members.
Her enthusiasm has not gone unnoticed.
“I have been working alongside Barbara Scheinberg for the past six months, and it has truly been a whirlwind of activity,” said Francine Surloff, executive director of the chapter. “Barbara knows what her goals and ambitions are for Hadassah Greater Pittsburgh Chapter, and she is that engine that could. There is no stopping her from putting Hadassah on the fast track of activity and moving us forward.”
The local chapter of Hadassah covers Western Pennsylvania, Western Maryland, Northern West Virginia and Eastern Ohio. There are 17 separate groups within the chapter.
“My goal,” Scheinberg said, “is to retain our membership and to get the women involved who have not been involved in several years.”
She has also set her sights on building the membership of younger Jewish women.
At a time when engaging young Jews in Jewish organizations is tough, Scheinberg, with the help of her daughter, Emily, has launched a young women’s group within Hadassah that is gaining in popularity.
“Thirty young women came for the first event, where they painted wine glasses,” Scheinberg said. The program was a success, she added, because Emily made the effort to call each woman personally, encouraging them to come.
Other events for the young women’s group included a shopping day at White House/Black Market, where 10 percent of sales went to Hadassah, and a brunch at Pamela’s — programs, Scheinberg said, that appeal to those in their 20s and 30s.
The young women’s group is also slated to prepare a meal at Family House for patients and their families seeking medical treatment in area hospitals. The local Hadassah groups take turns in preparing the monthly meals, Scheinberg said.
Scheinberg has already begun work on her chapter’s 2015 fundraiser, to be held next April. Dubbed Sweet Sunday, the event will be a “dessert extravaganza,” she said, and will feature 25 to 30 vendors and over 500 samples of desserts and candies.
The fundraiser is generating interest from a wide range of Hadassah members, including women who have not been active for a while, according to Scheinberg.
“We had women who are life members of Hadassah who we never heard from before who came to our office to be a part of this,” she said. “It’s fabulous.”
The event is intended to raise funds for the Hadassah Medical Center in Israel, Scheinberg added.
The membership of Pittsburgh’s Hadassah chapter has declined in the last several years, according to Scheinberg, due, in part, to women leaving the city after retirement.
“Our membership has decreased somewhat as the Jewish population has decreased in Pennsylvania,” she said. “Women tend to move South as they get older. They are still in Hadassah but in chapters down South.”
A luncheon scheduled for September, featuring Hadassah’s national CEO and executive director Janice Weinman, will honor “our more seasoned women,” Scheinberg said and will also recognize the new young women’s group.
Scheinberg aspires to raise Hadassah’s profile during her tenure, she said, and hopes to partner with other Jewish organizations on projects throughout the year.
One of those projects will be fundraising to improve the beauty salon at the Charles Morris Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, she said.
“I want to get Hadassah’s name out in the community,” she said. “My goal is to let people know we are here.”
(Toby Tabachnick can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)