Dear Hadassah International Colleagues,
Bernice Tannenbaum, the Founder of Hadassah International, envisioned a global Hadassah that could build bridges to people and to nations through medicine.
She believed Jerusalem’s Hadassah Medical Organization and it’s tenet that medicine was above borders, above religious differences or nationalities. And, sharing this vision, with her intellect, passion, humor and creativity, whether in Paris or in Jerusalem, New York or Baltimore, was Bea Birnbaum.
It is fair to say that without Bea Birnbaum there would have been no Hadassah France, at least not so quickly. She brought together Professor Jacques Michele, then Director of Hadassah Mount Scopus and French lay and healthcare professionals. She and Jacques, and her wonderful and growing cadre of French volunteers, men and women of all faiths and backgrounds, not only raised money, but established medical relationships, many of which continue today and are the foundation of our work in France.
Of course, this was just the beginning of Bea’s Hadassah career. I too was there at the beginning and feel so fortunate to have been witness to her amazing drive and commitment to overcome all the varied and obvious obstacles, and successfully connect people from Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Belgium, Italy, Spain, the UK, to name just a few, to the work of the Hadassah Medical Organization.
Although I have vivid memories of Bea’s beautiful smile, of our working around the clock, of taking daring initiatives and huge risks, of laughing and of being so surprised when our efforts paid off, but my fondest personal memories are of the dinners we cooked together in her Paris apartment with Danny and her girls, Joanna and Becky. Bea’s family was her core and her touchstone.
I was blessed to call her a colleague, and Hadassah was all that much better because Bea Birnbaum was in our world.
May the memory of Bea Birnbaum be for a blessing. May her family be comforted amongst the mourners of Zion.
24th Hadassah National President