The Cleveland HADASSAH, the third national chapter of the Women's Zionist Organization, was formed by twenty-one charter members in 1913. By the end of the year, their Shoshana Group had 400 members, and over 1,000 by 1919. Earlier, RACHEL LANDY, a local nurse, was sent to Palestine with Rose Kaplan of New York to conduct district nursing visits. They established the first Hadassah House nursing center in Jerusalem, which grew into the Hadassah Medical Organization, the focus for Hadassah fundraising. Elsa Rogat was Cleveland's first president, establishing Hebrew classes and instituting the annual fundraising dinner dance and raffle. Kate Biskind, president from 1915-1919, broadened fundraising as Hadassah participated in the Zionist Organization of America's Palestine Restoration Fund drives. Biskind resigned in 1919 to move to Palestine, where her husband became the Hadassah Medical Unit's first director.
Although American Zionism suffered a serious schism at the ZOA CONVENTION OF 1921, Cleveland Hadassah continued growing. In 1923, Junior Hadassah was established for young women. Cleveland Hadassah provided aid for the war-stricken populace of Jerusalem during and after World War I, established a program for adopting Palestinian Jewish orphans, and sold war bonds during World War II. In 1935, Cleveland hosted the national Hadassah convention, which established the Youth Aliyah program to help German Jewish children emigrate to Palestine. Besides offering Hebrew classes, Hadassah provided Zionist study groups and social activities. Hadassah has made health kits for the Head Start program and offered tutorial services at Glenville High School. In 1963, Cleveland Hadassah had over 6,000 members.
In 2007, the Greater Cleveland Chapter of Hadassah had approximately 2,300 members. The chapter continued to support Hadassah's national projects: the Hadassah Medical Organization (two major medical centers in Jerusalem), Hadassah College Jerusalem, the Hadassah Career Counseling Institute, Youth Aliyah/Children-at-Risk, Young Judaea, and the Jewish National Fund. Leslie Carno-Harf Myers served as president of the Greater Cleveland Chapter of Hadassah in 2007.
In 2015, the Greater Cleveland chapter of Hadassah closed, because of dwindling membership and revenue, putting an end to an institution more than 100 years old. Its programming was absorbed into the Central States region of Hadassah, leaving Greater Cleveland without its own Hadassah board or programming.
Updated by Sylvia Abrams
Last updated: 2/22/2023