The day after Lore Kirchheimer moved into Glencoe with her husband and their three grade school children, her neighbor Lorraine Sandler knocked on her door.
She introduced herself and announced, “I’m taking you to a Hadassah meeting.”
The astonished young mother replied “I can’t. I’ve just moved in,” but Sandler prevailed. It was 1960 and Lili Dunn was president of Glencoe Hadassah. “Before I knew it I was membership chair,” Kirchheimer says with a smile, “and eventually I think I held every single job there was, including president.”
Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization in America, has 350,00 members and raises money for two hospitals in Israel, a college, three youth villages for at-risk Israeli children and Jewish youth from third-world countries, plus an overnight camp for young people in the U.S. Membership provided Kirchheimer with a lifetime of friendships and a cause that became very close to her heart.
Glencoe Hadassah’s office was in an old building with a poor heating system. “I remember typing with gloves on,” Kirchheimer says, shaking her head.
Frugality was paramount. “We didn’t spend money on anything,” she says. “Women were at home then, and when we had a luncheon, we brought all the food.”
At that time suburban groups were part of Chicago Hadassah. “But the population changed,” Kirchheimer recalls, “and our local groups got larger and larger.”
In May of 1971 the north suburban groups broke away from Chicago and established North Shore Hadassah. “We now have 4,200 members in 14 groups,” says Michele Rubin, president of North Shore Hadassah. Last year the chapter contributed $850,000 for Hadassah programs in Israel and the U.S. “The thrift store in Highland Park is our biggest money-maker,” Rubin explains, “and right now it’s doing a very good business.”
For more information on Hadassah, visit the group’s website.