Hadassah Breaks a Precedent: Presents Henrietta Szold Award to Poc Ida Nudel in Absentia

Hadassah broke a precedent today at the opening of its 67th annual convention at the New York Hilton by awarding its highest honor, the Henrietta Szold Award, in absentia to Ida Nudel. The Prisoner of Conscience was exiled to Siberia three years ago on charges of “malicious hooliganism” for asking the Soviet authories to “give me my visa” to go to Israel on a hand-lettered window poster in her Moscow apartment after all of her formal applications were rebuffed.

In presenting the award to Elena Fridman, Nudel’s sister who came to the United States from Israel at the invitation of Hadassah, Rose Matzkin, chairman of Hadassah’s award committee and a former president of Hadassah, said the precedent of presenting the award in absentia was taken because Nudel “is special.”

She told the 3,000 delegates and guests that the check which usually accompanies the citation “will be waiting for Ida Nudel when she is released from a desolate hut in Siberia and permitted to realize her dream of aliya to Israel. It is singularly appropriate that Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization of America, should give its highest award to Ida Nudel, who epitomizes human yearning for freedom and the Zionist aspiration to be with her own people in Israel.”

When Mrs. Fridman accepted the Henrietta Szold Award, and earlier in the day in a press conference, she explained that Nudel is not a dissident she simply wants to go to Israel to join her sister who is her only surviving relative.

Mrs. Fridman said that Nudel began exile at age 47; she is now 50. She said that Nudel is sustained by her dedication to her dream — to go to Israel — and by the thousands of letters which have given her direct comfort as well as having enlisted Congressmen and Senators on her behalf.

In November, Mrs. Fridman attended the Helsinki Review Conference in Madrid where Max Kampelman, head of the U.S. delegation, made representations — both public and private — to the Russians. She said that she was “deeply impressed with the depth of U.S. commitment to help Ida.” She added that “thanks to Hadassah’s invitation,” she and her husband, Aryeh, were able to come to the United States and will remain several weeks so that they can meet some of the people who have written to Nudel, as well as the many government officials who have expressed an interest in helping her sister.

The 3,000 delegates and guests rose and pledged to carry on the battle for freedom for Nudel, her fellow Soviet Jewish Prisoners of Conscience, and for the human rights of all people — individuals fighting for dignity, security and freedom.

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