Hadassah cancels 2009 national convention in New Orleans

When Hadassah, the women’s Zionist organization of America, announced that its 2009 annual convention would be held in New Orleans, it was seen as a boost for a city trying to rebuild its tourism and convention business, and for a Jewish community trying to replenish its numbers and tell the story of its post-Katrina revival.

Now, the event — which draws around 2000 delegates — is being dramatically scaled back, and at press time it was uncertain whether there would be any national Hadassah activities in New Orleans in July. The convention had been scheduled for July 12 to 15.

On Dec. 5, region and Big Chapter presidents held a conference call with Nancy Falchuk, Hadassah national president, to discuss an Executive Committee decision to cut domestic spending by millions of dollars.

In an email circulated to the region by Southern Region President Edria Ragosin, it was stated that instead of the usual four-day event, there would likely be a meeting of the national board and a one-day business meeting for representatives of chapters across the country.

Plans would not be finalized until mid-December as to what sort of meetings would be held, or if they would be held in New Orleans.

Roselle Ungar, a national Hadassah Executive Board member from New Orleans, said “convention as we know it has been cancelled” in a move toward fiscal responsibility.
“Needless to say, we are all very disappointed, and Hadassah is disappointed,” she said.

She noted that if the full national board meets in New Orleans, the board has 250 members and typically meets three times a year.

She also said it is still important to have a business meeting for delegates to weigh in on issues.
Emotionally, she said, canceling convention “is hard, but fiscally it is the right thing to do.”

If there is a business meeting in New Orleans, Ragosin wrote, “We do expect every chapter to be represented,” and that the host region would still do “all we can to boost that spirit and infuse the atmosphere with our positive, friendly style.”