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Ellen Hershkin ribbon-cuttingEarly January was a crazy time for Ellen Hershkin, who stepped up to Hadassah's presidency on New Year's Day. By Sunday, Jan. 10, she was already in Jerusalem, cutting the ribbon for the new surgical complex at Hadassah Medical Organization (HMO) in Ein Kerem.

And then came one of the most exciting moments of all: HMO researchers announced breakthrough findings in the world's first clinical trial using patients' own stem cells to combat ALS, otherwise known as Lou Gehrig's disease.

Working with U.S./Israeli biotech company BrainStorm Cell Therapeutics, Professor Dimitrios Karussis, head of the HMO Department of Neurology and lead researcher, found that almost 90 percent of the clinical trial patients showed slowing in the rate of the progression of their disease, and in some cases improvement in lung and motor function—after one treatment.

"That night, I was in Jerusalem on the phone with Prof. Karussis, HMO chair Rachel Schonberger and Hadassah leaders, members, and donors speaking about that morning's announcement," Ellen says. "We presented these findings to people all over the United States and Israel. It was an extraordinary experience."

Zionism in Action

Ellen HershkinThey were an incredible few days—but when you consider Hadassah's mission, they were also exactly what Ellen expects. She takes the promise of Zionism seriously.

"My father taught me the lessons he gained from his experiences in the 11th armored division in World War II, one of the units that liberated Mauthausen," she explains. "I am my father's daughter—I wear his bar mitzvah ring every day." It's a tangible reminder of all that Israel means to the Jewish people—and all that it can offer to the rest of the world.

"It is amazing to see something so positive that may lead to breakthroughs in other areas—multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, age-related macular degeneration. Wouldn't it be wonderful!" Ellen continues. "That is our practical Zionism in action."

Together We Can

Her first task as national president—sharing groundbreaking clinical trial information that originated at HMO—is a shining example of the fruits of Hadassah's work.

"I, Ellen Hershkin, cannot build a medical institution by myself, but kulanu b'yachad—all of us together—we can," she marvels. "When breakthroughs like this come out of Hadassah, they're the Jewish people's gift to all humanity. We support Hadassah, which supports the research, which is a gift to the rest of the world."

That's why for five decades, Ellen has looked to Hadassah to fulfill the promise of Zionism—not just in theory, but on the ground. "It has been my vehicle of choice for practical Zionism," she says, "and taking my turn at bearing responsibility for everything I've been taught."

Contact us at (800) 428-8884 or to discuss ways that you can help Hadassah continue supporting important research findings.

Get to Know Hadassah's 26th National President

Member since: 1973 and part of a four-generation Life Member family.

Leadership activities: Immediate past coordinator of the PRAZE (Programming, Advocacy, Zionism and Education) Division, national vice president, national secretary, national coordinator of Young Judaea, national chair of Hadassah's Membership Outreach Department, national chair of the Public Affairs Department, the Hadassah Office in Israel (HOI) and National Young Leaders Chair.

Honors: Two-time recipient of the Woman of the Year Award. Received the National Leadership Award and Love of a Lifetime Award from the Dix Hills Chapter. Received highest honor from the Suffolk Council of Jewish Organizations for leadership, commitment and dedication to Jewish life.

Education: Studied speech and education at Hofstra University and Jewish studies through a program of the Melton School of Jewish Education/Hebrew University.


The content contained herein is provided for informational purposes only. There is currently no cure for ALS, and the treatment studied in the clinical trial is subject to further research and review. All persons should consult with their own health care professionals prior to embarking, modifying or terminating any course of treatment.

A charitable bequest is one or two sentences in your will or living trust that leave to Hadassah a specific item, an amount of money, a gift contingent upon certain events or a percentage of your estate.

an individual or organization designated to receive benefits or funds under a will or other contract, such as an insurance policy, trust or retirement plan

"I give to Hadassah, a nonprofit corporation currently located at 40 Wall Street, 8th floor, New York, NY 10005
ATTN: Planned Giving & Estates, or its successor thereto, ______________ [written amount or percentage of the estate or description of property] for its unrestricted use and purpose."

able to be changed or cancelled

A revocable living trust is set up during your lifetime and can be revoked at any time before death. They allow assets held in the trust to pass directly to beneficiaries without probate court proceedings and can also reduce federal estate taxes.

cannot be changed or cancelled

tax on gifts generally paid by the person making the gift rather than the recipient

the original value of an asset, such as stock, before its appreciation or depreciation

the growth in value of an asset like stock or real estate since the original purchase

the price a willing buyer and willing seller can agree on

The person receiving the gift annuity payments.

the part of an estate left after debts, taxes and specific bequests have been paid

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You fund this type of trust with cash or appreciated assets—and may qualify for a federal income tax charitable deduction when you itemize. You can also make additional gifts; each one also qualifies for a tax deduction. The trust pays you, each year, a variable amount based on a fixed percentage of the fair market value of the trust assets. When the trust terminates, the remaining principal goes to Hadassah as a lump sum.

You fund this trust with cash or appreciated assets—and may qualify for a federal income tax charitable deduction when you itemize. Each year the trust pays you or another named individual the same dollar amount you choose at the start. When the trust terminates, the remaining principal goes to Hadassah as a lump sum.

A beneficiary designation clearly identifies how specific assets will be distributed after your death.

A charitable gift annuity involves a simple contract between you and Hadassah where you agree to make a gift to Hadassah and we, in return, agree to pay you (and someone else, if you choose) a fixed amount each year for the rest of your life.

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