Hadassah RI swears in officers, celebrates 'New Year of the Trees'


Getting a group of women together on any given Sunday is a chore. Doing so on Super Bowl Sunday is yeoman's work.

On Feb. 3 at Phyllis Siperstein Tamarisk Assisted Living in Warwick, more than 50 women came together to celebrate the Hadassah Rhode Island volunteer women’s organization and watch the installation of new board members. Those in attendance ranged in age from 36 to 105.

“This is a highlight of my life to see so many of you here today,” said Sue Mayes, the group’s president.

The gathering additionally served as a chance to observe Tu B’Shvat, a Jewish holiday also known as Rosh HaShanah La’Ilanot, or “New Year of the Trees.” In Israel, the occasion is celebrated as an ecological awareness day and marked by tree plantings. The day also traditionally involves eating fruits associated with Israel – such as grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives and grapes –as well as almonds.

Phyllis Solod led a Seder in honor of the holiday.

“This feasting on fruits, which started in medieval times, later progressed to celebrating with a Seder, with fruits and nuts being served is a specified order accompanied with specific prayers,” she said. “The Seder, full of imagery and symbolism, is divided into four sections that represent the four seasons or worlds.”

Following the Seder, Myra Glansberg, Hadassah’s Southern New England region vice president for membership, performed the induction ceremony for the slate of officers for 2019.

Aside from Mayes, the officers include Betty Ann Israelit, vice president of philanthropy; Maxine Bornstein, vice president of membership; Leah Ross-Coke, vice president of programming; Lorraine Rappoport, vice president of organization; Judy Shoenfeld and Donna Podrat, treasurers; Judy Silverman, secretary and records keeper; and Ellen Fingeret, webmaster.

In her address to the group, Mayes spoke of her personal Hadassah journey, which started in Junior Hadassah during her high school years. She highlighted the organization’s past in Rhode Island and drew a connection between the swearing-in ceremony and the Tu B’Shvat observance.

“This installation ceremony revolved on trees and their functions and designs,” she said. “Trees start with a seed, just like ideas.”

Mayes also discussed Hadassah’s “360 Degrees of Healing” initiative.

“This plan needs to raise $91.2 million dollars by 2021,” she said. “It will allow [the Hadassah Medical Organization] to continue its world renowned medical work, provide care for more patients and increase the level of care.”

To learn more about Hadassah and its programs, visit hadassah.org. 


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