In August, Canadian Young Judaea visited two of CHW’s daycares in Israel, the Sandy Martin Alberta Daycare and the Judy Mandleman Vancouver Daycare. (photo from chwblog.tumblr.com)
Canadian Hadassah-WIZO (CHW) is one of the original feminist philanthropic organizations. Founded in 1917 and on the eve of celebrating its centennial, it remains an organization unique to Canada.
Only in Canada are Hadassah International, which supports medical centres in Israel, and Women’s International Zionist Organization, which has women in the Diaspora working for the welfare of women and children in Israel, combined. They were brought together by CHW founder, philanthropist and activist Lillian Freiman.
While the history is important, CHW continues to evolve, due in part to leaders like Vancouver’s Claudia Goldman and, on Nov. 5 at the Four Seasons Hotel, Vancouver CHW is hosting the national organization’s gala in honor of Goldman, who is the outgoing national president.
CHW leadership from across Canada will gather to celebrate Goldman’s achievements. In addition, World WIZO president Esther Mor will be here as part of her trip to Canada, and other special guests will include Zev Twito, director of the CHW-supported Hadassim Children and Youth Village, which is located east of Netanya and north of Tel Aviv. Twito will share information about some of the initiatives being undertaken at Hadassim.
“In 1947, CHW built Hadassim to provide housing for orphan children who were arriving in Israel after WWII,” explained Goldman. “In 2017, when CHW is celebrating its centennial, Hadassim will be celebrating its 70th birthday. For 70 years, CHW has been continuously saving children.
“For, me personally, Hadassim has been like a second home. The relatives I am very close with in Israel sent all six of their children to Hadassim and our younger daughter volunteered at Hadassim. When you are at Hadassim, you really feel the impact that CHW has had on the school.”
While Hadassim has developed into an educational centre for all children living in the region, there are also dormitories for children in foster care, a special home for teenaged mothers and their babies, and group homes run by an Israeli family for younger foster children. Recently, there has been an influx of French teenagers, moving to Israel to escape antisemitism in France. Proceeds of the November gala will support Hadassim’s work.
Other visitors from Israel coming to Vancouver for the gala are connected directly to the village. Award-winning musicians Guy and Yahel are graduates of Hadassim, and they will provide the entertainment for the evening with their brand of rock-pop. These young performers, who were Voice of Israel finalists, have received numerous accolades, including a nomination by MTV Europe as the best Israeli act.
“I heard them play in Tel Aviv and I can promise you, they are really something special,” said Goldman. “As the lead volunteer for CHW, I feel that Guy and Yahel coming to Vancouver all the way from Israel to perform pro bono is a great message for CHW members and friends. Our Hadassim graduates are giving back to CHW for the loving support they received during their time at Hadassim.”
The gala will also focus on Goldman’s successes as president.
“I believe that so much more can be accomplished when people reach out and pull together as a team,” explained Goldman, whose presidency’s theme was “partnership.”
She has worked to strengthen the organization based on what she said CHW already does well. “CHW offers the magical mixture of camaraderie, while at the same time offering the opportunity to make positive change in the world,” she said. “It is empowering to help the most vulnerable citizens in our Jewish homeland. Sometimes, the world seems to be coming apart, but when you are able to fight back by helping strengthen Israel, while at the same time making friends with Jewish women and men from around the world, it feels incredibly empowering.”
Goldman has strong feelings about her work with CHW.
“I feel very proud that, over the last two years, I have been able to spread the enthusiasm and commitment I have for CHW,” she said. “With all of the problems in the world today, I am absolutely certain that the work we do is essential and that we are on the right track. CHW is strengthening the health services of Israel, supporting Israeli women and families, and rescuing Jewish children who are living under terrible antisemitism. We are making a huge difference, improving thousands of lives. Being CHW’s national president has been a very powerful experience.”
Michelle Dodek is a freelance writer living in Vancouver.