Sarah Dufrechou, Faith Ruch and Eleanor Steinberg present Hadassah’s platform to a diverse group of women and men at a recent free event at a local pancake shop.
When close friends Eleanor Tallie Steinberg and Faith Ruch, attended Memphis Hadassah’s Centennial Celebration in the fall of 2018, neither realized that they would soon become two of Memphis Hadassah’s biggest advocates.
Eleanor was invited as entertainment to the group of 90 men and women who’d come to pay homage to those who have carried on the organization’s mission for the past 100 years.
“I didn’t really know anything about Hadassah at the time and was attending the event as Eleanor’s guest.” said Faith. “We were both captivated by Hadassah’s policies and amazing accomplishments the organization had made throughout its long history. The speakers talked about many of the same issues we discuss among our 30-year-old peers. But we realized there was no one else there our age.”
They left the event inspired and on a mission of their own.
“We had to learn more about getting involved and help spread the word to our peers about how Hadassah advocates for Health Reform, Social Justice, Medical Research, Support of Israel and more,” said Faith. “All of the things that we value as Jews.”
Faith and Eleanor attended planning meetings and began to immerse themselves where they felt their skills best served the organization.
Faith, a registered nurse who spent eight years in labor and delivery and whose family has been part of Memphis’ medical community (Ruch Clinic of Obstetrics and Gynecology) for generations, was drawn in particular to policies concerning medical research and advancing women’s health equity. “Hadassah gives me a platform to speak out about the things that are most meaningful to me,” she said.
In addition to nursing, Faith is also a musician who has recorded three albums and teaches at Temple Israel’s Institute of Jewish Rock. She and Eleanor are not only close friends, they share a passion for social action and justice – and they happen to share the same birthday.
Eleanor is an Israeli native who served in Intelligence in the Israeli Army before beginning a career in the high tech industry. She moved to the U.S. in 2013 after a successful performance with a blues band at the International Blues Challenge held in Memphis. Today, when she isn’t traveling around the world performing, she manages an AirBnB property management company with her husband, Memphis-native Corey Steinberg.
The two are putting their PR, marketing and social media skills to work. They realize that to reach a new generation of Hadassah members, they need to be where the people their age like to gather and make their voices heard on social media.
As its social media chair, Eleanor brings her corporate, organizational and entertainment experience to strategically brand the chapter’s online presence. Faith is serving as the chapter’s marketing and public affairs chair and has been appointed to serve as the young women’s Southern Region chair.
“We’ve networked among Jewish peer groups and developed lists of women to reach out to,” said Faith.
At the January Southern Regional meeting in Baton Rouge, La., the two were awarded “Women of the Year” for “their avid enthusiasm and ambition for chapter vitality through member engagement and program planning,” said Memphis chapter president Brona Pinnolis.
Their first successful program, a free Pancake Brunch at a local Memphis breakfast shop, brought young and seasoned guests, some long-time supporters who are familiar with Hadassah and those wanting to learn more.
“Like so many other communal organizations here and elsewhere, Hadassah Memphis has struggled in the past few years to engage and activate new members,” said Brona. “Some people wrote us off and expected the chapter to wither completely. Faith and Eleanor, together with several other new or renewed members, are bringing a sense of enthusiasm and commitment to the work that can only help inspire others to get involved, either for the first time or again. Oftentimes, we need to see things through the eyes of someone seeing it for the first time to truly appreciate it, and the fantastic work of Hadassah is no different. I am thrilled to serve as mentor to such committed young women and feel refreshed myself in helping to move the chapter forward!”
What Are You Passionate About? For more information and to get involved, please reach out to Brona at firstname.lastname@example.org / 901.569.0972 or Faith at email@example.com/ 901-489-5913.
It’s not your grandma’s Hadassah in 2019.
These are a sample of action items that Hadassah members – 330,000 strong – advocate for year-round:
Combating Human Trafficking
Women’s Health Equity
Support and Funding for Women’s Health Research
Refugees & Immigration
Women’s Economic Equity and Security
Violence Against Women
Common Sense Gun Legislation
Unwavering Support for Israel
Health Care Reform