Tevet 5782, December 2021

The final shout-out of the Hanukkah week is to Hadassah’s nurses. This week, the first cadre of nurse graduates in the Achotenu program for Ethiopian-background Israelis were honored at the residence of Israel’s president.

The Hanukkah miracle involves a single sanctified cruse of oil that lasted for eight days. But without the foresight of whoever hid that single cruse, there wouldn’t have been a miracle. Henrietta Szold had that foresight when she started Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization of America in 1912 and in founding the first professional college for women: the School of Nursing that now bears her name. The year? 1918, the year of the last pandemic, seven years before the Hebrew University was founded. Hadassah nurses saved the country.

Patricia Wahl Lapan had the foresight, too. She left home at 16 to study nursing. She didn’t inherit the money she donated to Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization of America of which she was a member. She earned it and invested it wisely so that she could make a bequest for the women of Hadassah to use with foresight. There were many good ideas for that scholarship money, but together with her family, the decision was made to pay for Achotenu, to ensure that tuition costs and university expenses would not derail worthy students who want a career in nursing

“Achotenu is such a wise, important project because it doesn’t ignore the difficulties of Aliyah and absorption but alongside them, it looks at the enormous advantages and the amazing opportunities brought by Ethiopian immigration to all of Israel,” said Israeli First Lady Michal Herzog during the ceremony.

To the new nurses, Herzog added: “You chose to study nursing, to break glass ceilings in the world of academia. You opted to study despite the dissenting voices you may have heard that suggested this course of action is not really for you. But you chose to study realizing that you are ambassadors for an entire community, knowing that your success is theirs too.”

Hadassah Offices in Israel (HOI) Executive Director Audrey Shimron spoke of Hadassah’s history and brought congratulations from our 300,000 members in the United States, of President Rhoda Smolow and also past President and proud nurse Nancy Falchuk. She brought blessings of men and women around the world of Hadassah International particularly in faraway Australia where the new graduates have friends and supporters.

And she said, “We know each one of will be you will be a lamplighter. Mazal tov.”

Let’s think of how proud we are to be part of Hadassah’s enormous contribution to the State of Israel as we light a full Hanukiah tonight.

Hanukkah Sameah, Happy Hanukkah!