Teen girls at Kehillah High launch a Hadassah group

Right now, invitations for Hadassah fundraiser luncheons are not sent through Facebook. Nor do most chapters’ activity lists include pool parties, ice skating or rock ‘n’ roll bowling.

But all that could change with the newest members of Hadassah, who hope to shatter the “old ladies having lunch” stereotype and provide the women’s organization with some fresh, young faces.

Meet Sarah Hazani, a sophomore at Kehillah Jewish High School in Palo Alto and the founder of Hadassah High School, an up-and-coming group under the umbrella of a local Hadassah chapter.

Clearly, this is not your mothers’ and grandmothers’ Hadassah. It’s for teen girls ages 14 to 17.

The group, which formed last spring and currently has six members, will mix charitable giving with a social calendar. Sarah and classmate Lauren Sucharczuk are serving as co-presidents.

Efforts to attract more girls to the program, mostly through fliers posted around school, didn’t garner the interest Sarah had anticipated. So for now, she’s working to establish a strong board and focusing on the group’s first service project: making and selling jewelry to help hospitalized children in Israel.

Money raised from the sales will go to purchase computer stations for the Mother and Child Pavilion of Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem.

The notion of doing something charitable was a big inspiration for Sarah in creating Hadassah High School.

“The hospital is really cool,” said Sarah. “Not only do they treat Israeli patients, but they help Arab patients as well. I thought it was nice that they could all get along.”

Sarah’s mother, DeeAnn Hazani, is a member of Hadassah’s Sharone chapter, which serves Silicon Valley. She and her daughter approached Sandi Weinstein, then the chapter’s membership chair, with an idea to form a group for teenage girls that raises money for Israeli causes.

“What’s exciting is that it’s the very beginning,” said Hazani, who maintains communication between Hadassah High School and the national organization. “The girls are enjoying it because they have a say in how the group is designed.”

Because a group like Hadassah High School is the first of its kind, Hazani appealed to the national organization to create a new membership category. In the meantime, the girls are Hadassah members through their mothers, who each pay $36 a year for their daughter’s participation.

Acknowledging that organizations such as Hadassah are always looking to boost their numbers, Weinstein said, “We’re not asking the girls to become [Hadassah] members immediately. We’re asking them to get involved and if they choose to continue, then they can become members.”

Hadassah is a volunteer women’s Zionist organization that works to strengthen its members’ ties with Israel. It also supports youth institutions, including Love Shouldn’t Hurt, an anti-abuse program developed by Oakland-based Shalom Bayit, and the Young Judaea Zionist youth movement.

Hadassah High School received a grant from the Sharone chapter to get its start, but the hope is that anyone interested in the project will join, Jewish or not.

The girls have met a few times and tentatively plan to gather every few months. Weinstein, now the teen liaison in the Sharone chapter, said she knows high school girls are busy, but doesn’t view that as a hindrance to the group’s success.

“Teenagers are really looking to better the world,” Weinstein said. “They can conceive of helping a child much better than adults who fill their lives with work and obligations.”

For information, contact Sandi Weinstein at (408) 541-0987 or

[email protected]