GLOVERSVILLE - The local chapter of Hadassah is still going strong, as evidenced by the turnout as their recent 30th annual craft fair.
The president of the Gloversville chapter of Hadassah, Marsha Smith, said Hadassah is similar to many other local organizations: There are not as many members as there were years ago, and there are fewer younger members.
However, she said, the organization is still active and not going away.
People look at crafts at vendors’ booths in the Gloversville Middle School gymnasium on Nov. 20 during the 30th annual Hadassah Craft?Fair.
The Leader-Herald/Rodney Minor
Bonnie Clizbe, center, and Shawn Clizbe, in pink, both of Gloversville, look at balsam sachets at a vendor’s booth during the craft fair Nov. 20.
The Leader-Herald/Rodney Minor
"The people who are a part of it want it to stay," she said during the craft fair at the Gloversville Middle School on Nov. 20.
Gloversville has a rich Jewish history dating back to 1856, when the first Jewish settler, Nathan Littauer, came to the city. He and his wife, Harriet Sporborg, had a son, Lucious Littauer, in 1859, who went on to be a congressman and philanthropist.
The Knesseth Israel Synagogue is working on a history project, which can be seen at the synagogue's website, www.knessethisrael.net. According to the website, in 1936, "Gloversville Chapter of Hadassah is formed with 50 members. The chapter is still active and runs a very successful craft fair on the Sunday before Thanksgiving, which is a wonderful fundraiser for Hadassah and an anticipated event for the community."
Both?Smith and Anita Beck of Gloversville, who has been a member of?Hadassah for more than 30 years, said the organization's craft fair has become an annual event for the entire community.
Smith noted the group expected about 2,300 people to stop by and take a look at the works of the more than 120 juried crafters that were at the event Nov. 20.
"Some people begin their Christmas shopping here," she said.
Beck noted plenty of people besides Hadassah members are involved in making sure the event comes together. For example, she said, local Boy?Scouts help out the entire weekend of the event.
"If not for their help, we would not be able to do it," Beck said.
Smith said while the craft fair is the most well known community event, there are other activities the group does. Ultimately, Smith said, the chapter's activities aim to raise funds for Hadassah's projects.
Smith has been a member of Hadassah since 1972. Her connection to the organization is rooted in her Jewish faith and the nation of Israel.
A first-generation American, Smith studied in Israel in 1967 and '68. She said while in Jerusalem, she was struck by how beautiful and peaceful the area could be.
"I developed an attachment to the country," she said.
According to the Hadassah website - www.hadassah.org - "Hadassah, the Women's Zionist Organization of America, is a volunteer women's organization whose members are motivated and inspired to strengthen their partnership with Israel, ensure Jewish continuity, and realize their potential as a dynamic force in American society."
The group was founded in 1912 by Henrietta Szold, a jewish scholar and activist.
"In Israel, Hadassah initiates and supports pace-setting health care, education and youth institutions, and land development to meet the country's changing needs," the website said. "In the United States, Hadassah enhances the quality of American and Jewish life through its education and Zionist youth programs, promotes health awareness, and provides personal enrichment and growth for its members."
Smith said Hadassah has two medical facilities in Israel it supports, in addition to its other programs.
Beck said doctors and nurses from the organization will frequently travel to countries hit by natural disasters to offer help.
The Hadassah Medical organization also places an emphasis on clinical and scientific research to improve medical care. Beck noted much of this knowledge is made freely available to other medical organizations.
Smith said the Gloversville chapter of Hadassah has about 63 members. Years ago, she said, there were more than 100 members.
However, Smith said she is grooming a successor to take over as president of the organization eventually.
"It's still a way to feel closer to Israel and to help people," she said.
Beck noted while there are not as many new members coming in as there used to be, those active in the group still get a lot out of it.
"We enjoy it," she said. "We have fun."
For more information about Hadassah, visit www.hadassah.org