In 1912, Henrietta Szold founded Hadassah — a way for Jewish women in America to get involved in the cause of establishing a Jewish state in the Holy Land.
One hundred years later, Szold’s organization has nearly 300,000 members, and is one of the largest Jewish volunteer organizations in the world.
Saturday night, members of Hadassah’s Pittsburgh chapter gathered at Green Oaks Country Club for Hadassah’s Centennial Gala, honoring not only Szold’s vision, but a few from among their own ranks as well.
“We’re honoring Henrietta Szold for 100 years of her vision,” Dotty Weisberg, Hadassah member and Centennial Gala co-chair said. “We have a group of special women who have come together to honor another special woman.”
Hadassah Greater Pittsburgh presented Janice and Louis Greenwald with the Myrtle Wreath Award. The highest honor a Hadassah chapter can bestow, the award honors those who have made significant humanitarian contributions to their communities.
Janice Greenwald, a Hadassah member for more than 40 years and a former national vice president of the organization who currently serves on the national board, said she was thrilled with the honor.
“Dotty Weisberg called and asked if we would be the honorees,” Greenwald said. “I knew we were planning this special event for the 100th anniversary, and we had talked about an honoree, but I was really surprised when I was called and they asked us.”
“Janice and Louis have been very committed to Hadassah and Israel for as long as I have known them,” Weisberg said. “When it came time to sit down and figure out who would be a good honoree, there was just no doubt in our minds it was Janice and her husband.”
In attendance to help honor the Greenwalds was Hadassah National President Marcie Natan. Natan has made her way to a handful of chapter centennial celebrations, but made a special trip to Pittsburgh to help honor her longtime friend.
“Janice and I started at the same time,” Natan said, calling the two of them “classmates.”
The gala served as just the first step in Hadassah’s centennial celebration for many local members. Hadassah will hold its centennial convention in Jerusalem later this month, with festivities set to include the dedication of the new Sarah Westman Davidson Tower at Jerusalem’s Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital.
“We will be touring and seeing all of our projects, and bringing about 1,500 members with us to Israel,” Natan said. “It’s the largest group that Hadassah has ever brought to Israel at one time.”
(Matthew Wein can be reached at email@example.com.)