United in History, United in Destiny

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By
Rachel Harrison

The
Annual and Mid-Winter National Conventions Records in the Hadassah Archives, RG
3
, currently on long-term deposit at the American Jewish Historical
Society, contain numerous documents related to Hadassah’s annual
conventions, the first of which was held in June 1914 in Rochester, NY, and
which are still being held as of this writing (2016). At the conventions,
members of the National Board and regional delegates gather together for
several days to learn about Hadassah’s various medical and fundraising projects
and committees, attend educational programs, listen to speakers, and to vote on
various policy items. The convention records track topics of importance to
Hadassah across a century and offer a unique view into the changing social and
political landscape in the United States, Israel, and beyond during this time.

Speakers
and attendees at Hadassah conventions include American and Israeli diplomats
and politicians and other public figures such as Mordecai Kaplan, Dr. Michael
Bluestone, Betty Ford, Eleanor Roosevelt, Mamie Eisenhower, Arthur Lourie, Abba
Eban, Moshe Sharett, Golda Meir, Gisela Warburg Wyzanski, Nahum Goldmann,
Hillary Rodham Clinton, Louis Lipsky, Henrietta Szold, Reinhold Niebuhr,
Fiorello La Guardia, Hubert Humphrey, Helen Keller, Jacob Javits, David
Ben-Gurion, Harry Truman, Miriam Freund, and many others.

image

Eleanor
Roosevelt speaking at the 1934 Annual Convention in Washington, D.C.
Hadassah Archives on Long-term Deposit at the American Jewish
Historical Society, I-578, RG 18—Photographs; Box 78
;
Folder 3; American Jewish Historical Society, New York, NY

 Delegates
voted on various policy items relating to Zionist, Jewish and American foreign
policy, events in the Middle East, Jewish education in the United States, the
relationship between American Jews and Israel, and Hadassah’s reaction to such
events as the partition of Palestine, the rise of Nazism, and the proclamation
of statehood for Israel.

image

National
Board members and delegates meet Mamie Eisenhower at the 1953 Annual Convention
in Washington, D.C.
Hadassah Archives on
Long-term Deposit at the American Jewish Historical Society, I-578, RG
18—Photographs;
Box
78; Folder 16; American Jewish Historical Society, New York, NY

image

Delegates
from the 1953 Annual Convention called upon members of Congress to protest the
State Department’s withdrawal of aid to Israel.
Hadassah
Archives on Long-term Deposit at the American Jewish Historical Society, I-578,
RG 18—Photographs;
Box
78; Folder 16; American Jewish Historical Society, New York, NY

Hadassah
also gave out several awards and special certificates at their Annual
Conventions and Midwinter Conferences. Among these is the Henrietta Szold
Award, Hadassah’s highest honor. Winners have included politicians, scholars,
scientists, activists, artists, and philanthropists.

image

Refusenik
Ida Nudel, who was awarded the Henrietta Szold Award in absentia at the 1981
Annual Convention, receives her award in person at the 1989 Midwinter
Conference from Carmela Kalmanson, National President of Hadassah.
Hadassah Archives on Long-term Deposit at the American Jewish
Historical Society; I-578, RG
18—Photographs, Subgroup
3: Conventions; Box 83; Folder 1;
American Jewish Historical Society, New York, NY

The
conventions took place annually, producing reports, proceedings, speeches, meeting
minutes, and more. These records allow for a remarkable view into the topics of
the times, one surely of interest to researchers today and well into the
future.

From
2015-2016, Center archivists processed the Hadassah Archives on Long-Term
Deposit at the American Jewish Historical Society (AJHS) thanks to the generous
support of the Leon Levy Foundation. The Hadassah Archives measures over 1,500
linear feet and is one of the most frequently used collections at AJHS.

 

Rachel Harrison is an Archivist at the Center for Jewish History. All photos are from the Annual and Mid-Winter National
Conventions Records in the Hadassah Archives, RG 3. Title refers to the 1991
Convention theme.

#Out
of the Archives #collection services #american jewish historical society
#American Jewish Historical Society Collections #AJHS Collections #Hadassah

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