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Monday, January 25, 2016

Seeking Nominations for the Tannenbaum Prize

The Hadassah Foundation is seeking nominations for its annual Bernice S. Tannenbaum Prize. The Prize honors the achievements of an up-and-coming feminist leader--someone who is making a positive impact on the lives of Jewish girls and young women in the United States, or for Israeli women. It also provides the winner with something that is all-too-rare in the Jewish community: funds to pursue a professional development activity. 

All (electronic-only) applications are due by Friday, March 4, 2016. More information can be found at

New Hope for Victims of Domestic Violence In Israel

Thanks to the efforts of several Hadassah Foundation grantees--including Women's Spirit, Yedid, and Isha L'Isha, as well as other leading women's groups in Israel--female victims of domestic violence in Israel will receive better treatment from Israeli banks.  A new treaty recently signed by the banks enables women staying in domestic violence emergency shelters to receive more tolerant and socially oriented treatment from the banking system. Every bank and credit company will appoint two workers to help women forced into debt as a result of economic abuse. This will help reduce and prevent the too-common problem of domestic violence victims being trapped in an endless cycle of interest payments and growing debts as a result of their abusive partner's actions--more than 90% of women in shelters deal with enormous debts.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Elizabeth Swados, z"l

The Hadassah Foundation is sad to mark the passing of Elizabeth Swados earlier this month. Ms. Swados, who was a gifted writer, musician, composer, and theater director, was the recipient of one of the Foundation's first grants in 1999. She, in collaboration with the JCC in Manhattan, received support for Jewish Girlz, an original musical that addressed the problems and joys of being a young Jewish female in the United States.  Liz wrote the musical with a group of young teen girls who performed it at the JCC.  We will miss her powerful voice!

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Hadassah Foundation Now Accepting Proposals for US Grants

The Hadassah Foundation is seeking proposals for projects, curricula, and training programs that will enhance the leadership capacity of Jewish girls and young women ages 12-30 in the United States. All applications, to be submitted by email only, are due by February 5, 2016.  The grant term will be July 1, 2016–June 30, 2017.  The Foundation will provide a limited number of grants of up to $40,000.
Complete guidelines, as well as the cover sheet and project budget sheet that all applicants are required to use, can be downloaded at

Meeting Grantees Face to Face: A Board Member’s View

While in Israel for the past three weeks on a family trip, I was privileged to be able to visit two Hadassah Foundation grantees: Women's Spirit, located in Tel Aviv and Hebrew University--The National Council of Jewish Women's Research Institute for Innovation in Education in Jerusalem.
Although, as a member of the Foundation's Board of Directors, I first learned about—and was impressed with--the work of both groups as a member of our Israel Grants Committee, it was nothing compared with actually meeting these organizations' dedicated workers, volunteers, and clients face to face!
Women's Spirit provides women victims of violence with the tools and support to re-enter the workforce, achieve financial independence and gain back much needed self-confidence. Much of their work is carried out by a dedicated core of volunteer mentors, who work one-on-one with women seeking to reestablish themselves financially. Michal Gilad, Resource Development Coordinator for Women's Spirit, arranged and hosted my visit to their office where I met with the Director, a volunteer mentor and a client. I spoke with Rachel, a volunteer mentor who explained that after retiring, she wanted to find something meaningful to do as a volunteer. She is currently mentoring T, who was also at the meeting. Rachel said that they meet and speak regularly, as often as T needs the contact, so she can gain the confidence to use the professional tools provided so as to go back to teaching, something she gave up a long time ago while in an abusive relationship. It was obvious that Rachel loves what she is doing, and T explained that without the kind support and encouragement from Rachel, she would not be able to move ahead. I was also so impressed with Michal Gilad and the Director, Aimee Slayter, who are obviously dedicated to the success of this program. I left Women's Spirit feeling so inspired by the depth of humanity and humility shown by each woman, whether professional, volunteer or client. I felt truly honored that the Foundation helps support this organization!
My second visit was to Hebrew University--The National Council of Jewish Women's Research Institute for Innovation in Education.  For the past several years, the Foundation has supported a program that trains Haredi women to work as professional and para-professionals in early childhood development and education. Finding NCJW's tucked away office Hebrew University was definitely a challenge, but one well worth it!  I was fortunate to be invited to join the last class of the course, where I met with the students and the professionals running the program. Dr. Ayelet Giladi, Academic Manager of the Early Childhood Program ran the course and introduced me to the students, ranging in age from 19-37. The determination and dedication of the students became immediately apparent as I heard from two women, both juggling seven children apiece and work commitments. They come once a month to Hebrew University's Mt. Scopus in order to study so as to increase their knowledge and credibility to work with schools, children, parents and social workers in their communities. One woman told me that she is divorced, a mother of two children and lives about 1 ½ hours away by public transportation—she said she comes to the class in order to be able to go back to her community and be more effective when working with children and parents.
After visiting both projects, I left feeling so proud to be part of the Hadassah Foundation, and of our support of such worthy projects—I know we are definitely doing work that repairs the world, Tikkun Olam.
--Helaine Ohayon, Hadassah Foundation Board Member
(Ohayon, second from right, is shown above with staff and volunteers from Women's Spirit.)

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Learning From Our Peers

We were thrilled to have staff from the Virginia Gildersleeves International Fund (pictured above, at left) address the Hadassah Foundation's Board last week.  This foundation, which also supports projects that benefit girls and women, talked about their experiences related to engaging members and making multi-year grants. They gave us a lot to think about!

Thursday, November 5, 2015

UN Security Council Resolution 1325: 15 Years Later

Fifteen years ago, the UN adopted Security Resolution 1325, a landmark international legal framework that addresses not only the inordinate impact of war on women, but also the pivotal role women should and do play in conflict management, conflict resolution and sustainable peace.  In 2005, Israel became the first member of the UN to create legislation based on this resolution by amending its 1951 Equality of Women's Rights Law.  Like many other measures in Israel, although a law is on the books, its implementation is another matter. 

Foundation grantee Itach-Maaki has been at the forefront of efforts in Israel to create a framework by which the government will enact this measure. Between 2012--14, it convened more than 30 women's organizations, activities, and academics from different backgrounds to create an action plan that was subsequently presented to the government.  In recognition of these efforts, Itach-Maaki was asked to present at the Peace Forum to Commemorate the 15th Anniversary UNSCR 1325, an international gathering in NYC, a stone's throw from the U.N.  Pictured above is the delegation from Itach-Maaki that spoke at last week's interfaith gathering, which was sponsored by a number of women's groups from across the religious spectrum.