Marcie Natan, past national president of Hadassah and a member of the 1912 Legacy Society, admits that when she attended her first Hadassah meeting in 1967, she was simply looking for some decent conversation. With young children at home, Marcie was anxious to meet intelligent, like-minded women.
"I very much enjoyed the women I met," she recalls. "Afterward, they explained that they'd love me to continue to come, but I'd have to join Hadassah." For Marcie's young family, the $10 annual fee was a stretch. "We were living on a shoestring in those days, but this was something I really wanted to do. They were a lovely group of women who were focused on something other than their kids or their husbands, and that was what I was missing. But I really knew nothing about Hadassah."
Connection to Hadassah Deepens
She was about to learn, though. Several years later she took her first trip to Israel and spoke about her travels when she returned. "The thread of connection clearly was there," she remembers. "By that time I understood I was involved in a seriously Zionist organization and was communicating with women who felt as I did, that Israel was central to their lives."
When Marcie joined Hadassah's national board as a region president, she returned to Israel countless times, but a certain trip in January 1991—the start of the Gulf War—was a turning point.
"When we landed, they handed us gas masks," Marcie recalls. She prepared to call her family to tell them she was safe. When the operator picked up, Marcie began apologizing for her poor Hebrew—but the operator interrupted her. "She said, ‘Thank you, thank you,'" Marcie says. "‘Thank you for being here with us.' I understood for the first time that being a Diaspora Jew gave me an extremely important role in helping to protect Israel." Shortly thereafter, she left her day job, spending the next two decades working full time for Hadassah.
Providing for the Future
As her presidency winds to a close in 2015, Marcie finds herself thinking of an adage from Pirke Avot: "It is not our responsibility to finish the work, but nor are we free to desist from it."
"I really believe that," she says.
"Including it in your will is a meaningful and painless way to recognize Hadassah," she points out, "but I believe that being blessed with the ability to do something during one's life is extremely rewarding as well."
No matter how much one is able to do—or give—Marcie feels certain that the organization is in strong, intelligent hands, just as she discovered at that first meeting more than 45 years ago.
"I have great faith that our connection to Israel will continue to be strong and meaningful, and our members will continue to have the opportunity to meet like-minded women and continue their Jewish educations through Hadassah, as I did."
Help Shape Hadassah's Future
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