Hadassah, which is celebrating its 75th anniversary, honored three leading women from Israel, the United States and Egypt Tuesday. The three women are Ophira Navon, the wife of former Israeli President Yitzhak Navon; Jihan Sadat, the widow of former Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, and Barbara Bush, the wife of Vice President George Bush.
Navon, told the some 200 Hadassah members gathered at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, that the organization was “well known all over Israel for your special skill in turning big deeds into effective action and practical deeds.”
She called upon Hadassah to help stem the decreasing population of Jews in the diaspora which she said would shrink form 11 million to 5 million in 50 years because of low birthrate, intermarriage and lack of Jewish education.
“We must stress upon a strong Jewish identity by making young people a ware of their unique Jewish heritage,” Navon said, suggesting that Hadassah help all young Jews to come to Israel after graduation.
Navon, who was given the award for her work with disturbed, deaf youth and disadvantaged teenagers, confessed that Hadassah had “improved the quality of my life” when she was diagnosed as having breast cancer seven years ago. The Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem offers an alternative to removal of a breast in treatment of the disease.
Sadat, who was praised for her efforts to build a rehabilitation center in Cairo for the handicapped, told the audience of her happiness over the peace treaty between Egypt and Israel.
“I always feel one man can make a difference and nothing paralyzes a man’s willpower more than fear,” said Sadat who is visiting professor at University of South Carolina and American University. “Peace is more powerful than evil and love is much better than hate. Peace is more powerful than war and love is stronger than hate.”
Bush, who was honored for her work on behalf of illiterates, related her visit to the pediatric ward in Hadassah Medical Center in Ein Kerem where she saw Jews and Arabs treated side by side. “I came away with even greater admiration for Hadassah. You are volunteers in the finest sense,” Bush said.
The Hadassah program included remarks by several leaders in the organization: Barbara Topol, president of the Greater Washington Chapter; former national presidents Bernice Tannenbaum and Charlotte Jacobson, current president Ruth Popkin, and Lois Slott, chairperson of the 75th anniversary in Washington. Israeli Ambassador Meir Rosenne also attended the event and Israeli pianist David Bar Ilan played selections from Chopin, Gershwin and Liszt.
Peter McPherson, administrator of the Agency for International Development, also addressed the Hadassah event, saying the key to world development lies in “harnessing the self-interest of poor people.”
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.