Rhoda Smolow becomes Hadassah president

(JTA) — Rhoda Smolow was officially elected as national president of Hadassah.

The new president, the organization’s 27th in its 107 years, will lead over 300,000 members, associates and supporters claimed by the world’s largest women’s Zionist organization, Hadassah announced Tuesday.

The announcement camed during Hadassah’s convention at the Sheraton New York Times Square Hotel.

Smolow, of Great Neck, N.Y., has been active with Hadassah for 39 years and served as the group’s national secretary before becoming its president. The president’s role is voluntary, although Hadassah’s lay leaders are considered some of the most hands-on in Jewish philanthropy.

In addition to supporting its namesake hospitals in Jerusalem, the organization advocates for women’s health, reproductive rights and leadership training, and fights anti-Semitism.

Outgoing National President Ellen Hershkin, whose term ends Dec. 31, oversaw the reopening of Hadassah’s Washington office last year. It had closed nearly a decade before after Hadassah took a huge, unwitting financial hit in Bernard Madoff’s investment fraud. The organization will mark its 100th anniversary next year.

“Rhoda Smolow exemplifies the ideal of selfless service to Hadassah,” Hershkin said.