The end of my first year as national president was filled with travels to Florida, Chicago, and Cincinnati for special events – and culminated with meetings in Israel for the World Zionist Organization (WZO), the Jewish Agency and the NA’AMAT International Movement.
The visits to our NA’AMAT USA clubs and councils gave me the opportunity to meet with local leadership, renew friendships, and meet newer members. The warm reception I received at each meeting and event reinforced my feeling that, although NA’AMAT USA members may live in different parts of the country, we are all inter-connected through our dedication to our organization. That wonderful feeling of “havershaft” continues to pervade our relationships.
It has been only three years since I was last in Israel, but the changes in much of the landscape are overwhelming. New major highways, bridges and tunnels can me seen in many parts of the country. Cities are expanding with new buildings. In Jerusalem, everywhere you look there are enormous cranes, and new construction abounds – even though it seems as if there isn’t another square inch on which to build.
The intense meetings of the WZO gave everyone much food for thought, particularly when it came to the subject of encouraging the young generation (age 18 to 35) to become fully engaged in Zionist affiliation and active participation in the Jewish community.
Avraham Duvdevani, chairman of the World Zionist Organization, challenged the participants and world Jewry with a twofold message: Encourage and reinvigorate aliyah to Israel, and encourage the teaching of Hebrew in Jewish day schools and communities outside of Israel.
At NA’AMAT meetings, we had the chance to discuss priorities in planning for the coming year, as well as to compare the activities, programs and campaigns that our countries find successful in fund-raising, membership and getting community support. NA’AMAT Brazil’s president, Ceres Maltz Bin and NA’AMAT Canada’s incoming president, Orit Tobe, also participated.
A major highlight of the NA’AMAT meetings was the annual Scholarship Awards Ceremony, which was held at the headquarters of NA’AMAT Israel in Tel Aviv. The hall was filled to capacity with students and their families and teachers, as well as NA’AMAT Israel department heads and personnel.
Of the 500 applicants, 180 were chosen to receive NA’AMAT scholarships, after a thorough review of criteria and applications. Approximately 80 percent of the recipients are inder the age of 35. The recipients included an increased number of women studying technological and scientific subjects, including engineering, computer science and medicine. In addition, four research grants for doctoral studies were awarded in the area of status of women and gender studies.
In was an exciting, emotional day and a real pleasure for me to be there to bring greetings on behalf of all our NA’AMAT USA members – a memory to treasure!
Another special event was our visit to the new day care center on Dizengoff Street in north Tel Aviv. NA’AMAT Israel representatives and city officials joined us for a tour of the state-of-the-art center. The staff is doing an excellent job of ensuring that every child receives loving care and attention, and the comprehensive educational curriculum in carefully planned.
At the international NA’AMAT meetings, we were presented with an overview of our activities and programs during the past year. Reports from the NA’AMAT Israel department heads included information about the programs that they are currently developing. One is a course initiated for the 90th anniversary, in conjunction with Tel Aviv University, which deals with Israeli women and life cycles.
As we conclude our 85th anniversary here in the United States, NA’AMAT USA is increasing our Life Membership numbers through our special $185 Life Membership campaign (now over); and the response from current Life Members to reaffirm their commitment with and $85 gift has been very positive.
With me best wishes for a happy and healthy new year – Shana Tova!