Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization of America, raised nearly $18 million at a fundraising dinner celebrating the organization’s 100th anniversary.
Some 700 “Hadassah Founders,” all of whom had previously contributed a minimum of $15,000, gathered in Jerusalem on Wednesday night to make additional pledges.
About 2,000 supporters from the US and around the world are in Israel this week joining Hadassah’s Centennial celebrations.
“Despite the size of the gathering, the Founders Dinner is characterized by a strong family feeling,” said Helaine Ohayon, chair of Development. “It’s permeated by the joy of giving.”
The crowd cheered when Chana Pollin Galai, who lives in Israel,
announced that her grandmother, Irene Pollin of Washington, DC, was pledging $10 million for a new heart disease prevention program at Hadassah.
In a video greeting, Irene Pollin said she was creating this program in Israel in honor of her daughter, Linda Joy Pollin, who died of heart disease at the age of 16.
“Though I am a psychotherapist for people with chronic diseases, including many people with heart disease, I learned that heart disease kills ten times more women than breast cancer. If I didn’t know, then who did?” she said.
That knowledge had propelled her towards founding an education foundation called Sister to Sister to teach women heart disease risk, prevention and recovery.
She is establishing the Linda Joy Pollin Cardiovascular Wellness Institute at Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem as part of the Sister to Sister program.
“Since founding Sister to Sister in Washington, DC, I have longed to find a place outside of the United States to establish a heart disease prevention program geared toward women,” Pollin said.
“Partnering with Hadassah is an obvious extension of the work we’ve been doing, of the gimmick-free, prevention-focused work that has made Sister to Sister unique. Given Hadassah’s 100 years of experience helping women of all backgrounds take better care of themselves, I could not think of a better way to reach out to our sisters across the globe than establishing the Linda Joy Pollin Institute at Hadassah Medical Organization in Jerusalem. Heart disease knows no boundaries, and neither will we.”
She added that “through Sister to Sister, I’ve sought to make as many women as possible aware that although one in three women are currently dying from heart disease, simple lifestyle changes can have a major impact in reducing their risk.
“For a century, Hadassah’s inclusive approach to women’s health has broken down barriers and saved countless lives. Ours is a natural partnership, one built on a common notion of universal sisterhood. Since making my decision to establish the Institute in Jerusalem, my heart has been telling me how right this is.”
Thanking Pollin for her gift, Marcie Natan, national president of Hadassah said, “The Hadassah family is deeply grateful for Mrs. Pollin’s most generous gift which will enhance our efforts in heart health.
"The work and treatment that will be undertaken at Hadassah Medical Organization will be critical in contributing to preventing heart disease, and the data that will be collected through the program will be used in Israel and throughout the United States.
“The historical and ongoing role of Hadassah is to bring healing to people of all backgrounds. Mrs. Pollin’s gift adds to our ability to deepen and extend what we can provide for our patients. We look forward to a meaningful partnership with Sister to Sister both in Israel and throughout the United States,” she added.
Several other million-dollar gifts were announced, among them two sponsorships of Chagall Windows in the Abell Synagogue at Hadassah Ein Kerem. This project was announced recently in conjunction with London’s Christie’s auction house by Hadassah’s global arm, Hadassah-International.
So far, the windows named for Jacob’s sons Judah and Levy have been sponsored. Two $300,000 gifts were announced from two sides of the Atlantic: One from Chicago and one from Paris.