Hadassah Tikvah West Valley installed new members in a Zoom meeting.

Hadassah Tikvah West Valley chapter installed eight new officers for the coming year on Jan. 11. The installation was held on Zoom.

Instead of feeling constrained by the virtual venue, Lael Summer, the chapter’s new president, called it a “historic event” and something she views as inspiring. The COVID-19 pandemic “pretty much shut us down” in 2020, she said. But now that her members are feeling more comfortable with Zoom and other platforms, she’s planning to use “our imagination and our creativity” to plan new events that will hopefully bring more attention to the chapter, she said.

In that vein, Summer is also preparing for events to be virtual throughout 2021. To make it work she is getting a good amount of assistance from the regional Hadassah Zoom expert.

One of her first orders of business is to bring back a monthly newsletter that ceased three years ago due to lack of interest. Summer jumped on the opportunity to restart it once she became aware of a new member’s advertising background and interest in taking on the work.

The newsletter will help the chapter promote its upcoming events that include a joint event with Sun Health focused on women’s health and a Hadassah Shabbat in February. She’s currently developing programming for March.

But new membership is her biggest concern.

Summer’s been involved in Hadassah for many years and served as the chapter’s treasurer before stepping into the president’s role.

She started her time in Arizona as a snowbird, but when she moved here full time, she immediately joined the local Hadassah chapter. One of the best things about the organization, she said, is the way it introduces a person to the community.

“How can I find Jews and kosher food and things for passover? The best way to do that is go to a Hadassah meeting and meet people,” she said. Not only will finding new members be a boon to the chapter, it will also help those new to the area to find their Jewish neighbors.

“There are lots of Jewish people in the area and I want them to know we’re here,” she said.

Anne Leppo, the chapter’s new fundraiser and publicist, is one of those new members. She too found Hadassah immediately after moving to the West Valley from Massachusetts. “I moved in a pandemic and a hot summer in the middle of August,” she laughed.

Hadassah has always been a lifeline for her, and she’s been a member since she was a teenager. “I love the organization and what it does.”

This is the first time the chapter has had a publicist. She’s ready to start the newsletter as one of her first initiatives. “I’m doing this position,” she said, “to get the word out about all the great things we do.”

Currently, Leppo is most excited about the organization’s efforts to raise funds for various medical research projects as well as donating directly to Hadassah Medical Center and Hadassah Youth Aliyah Villages in Israel.

While she doesn’t love the idea of spending another year on Zoom, she acknowledged that it’s nice to see everyone all at once on the screen. And it enables her to be connected to her old chapter simultaneously. She recently joined one of the Massachusetts classes and prepared a challah from start to finish for the first time.

She misses meeting members — her friends — for lunch and talking things over face-to-face. But Zoom-only events won’t deter her commitment.

“It is what it is,” she said.

The other officers include Ramona Luckman as vice president; Beth Patrick as treasurer; Shirley Beaser as recording secretary; Susan Abramson as corresponding secretary, education and the member responsible for Hadassah cards; Cheryl Brooman is responsible for programming; Irene Reiss heads up membership; Suzy Shlian is in charge of communications; and Beth Statman will take over the telephone squad.

With her new team backing her up, Summer is optimistic for what’s to come. “Tikvah” means “hope,” she pointed out.

“What a wonderful word for this year to start out with,” she said. “We’re going to be building on hope for our chapter and for our nation.” JN

The chapter’s next meeting will be Feb. 8. For more information, visit tikvahwestvalley@hadassah.org.

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