Hadassah honors local ‘Women of Excellence’

Among attendees at the regional Hadassah luncheon were members of the Bat Shemesh group.

By Eileen Wingard

Eileen Wingard

SAN DIEGO — A video about the advanced research and clinical trials taking place at the Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem concluded Hadassah San Diego’s Women of Excellence Luncheon on December 4. The program featured talks by two remarkable local women: Executive Chef of Extraordinary Desserts, Karen Krasne, and retiring San Diego City Councilwoman, Marti Emerald. In addition, nine women of excellence were honored, one from each of San Diego County Hadassah’s chapters. A silent auction was held, and samples of Krasne’s pastries were served at the beginning of the gathering, with a salmon and quiche luncheon presented at the end of the three-hour long event.

Nearly 200 were in attendance at the Ranch Bernardo Country Club. Current president of San Diego Hadassah, Audrey Levin, gave concise introductions to all of the elements of this multi-faceted program. All proceeds will benefit stem cell research at the Hadassah Hospital.

The concluding video highlighted Hadassah Hospital’s decades of leadership in stem cell research. This was possible, in part, because Israel did not share the constraints of other countries, such as the U.S. The video showed stunning results of potential treatments of ALS and age-related macular degeneration.

The first speaker, before lunch, was Karen Krasne, recognized by Forbes as one of this country’s top 10 pastry chefs. She described her life, from the childhood influences of her mother, grandmother and aunts baking for Jewish holidays, to her studies at the Cordon Bleu, and her early beginnings in San Diego, where she is the owner and executive chef of one of the most popular eateries in the city.

Marti Emerald, City Council President Pro Tem since 2008, spoke of her 22-year career in journalism, where she excelled as the Consumer Advocate on San Diego’s Channel 10. She even slept on the streets with the homeless, to better understand their plight. She described her life, from her cab driving days in Portland and her news gathering experiences in Washington D.C., to her TV career in San Diego. As she leaves the San Diego City Council, she expressed hope that one piece of unfinished business, dear to her heart, gets completed: the building of twenty additional fire stations. Emerald plans to continue her work in advocacy. She admonished us to keep up hope and a commitment to creating better times ahead.

Of the nine women of excellence honored, two were from the health field: Lori Good, dentist from the Yachad Group, and Lynn Salsberg, registered nurse, of the Nursing and Health Care Council. Two were businesswomen: Linda Simon, from the Aviva Group and Barbara Dennis, from the Shoshana Group. Two were in government: Hanna Cohen, political consultant and author, from the Bat Harim Group and Jaime Lyn Dajman, government analyst, from the Bat Shemesh Group. Other professionals included an attorney, Flora Calem, in estate planning and probate, from the Attorneys Council; an accountant, Rinkie Pollack, treasurer of the San Diego Area Board and founding member of the Chofit Group; and Sue Appelbaum, technical writer and editor, who served as past chair of the San Diego Area and president of the Galilee Group.

A short video was shown, with highlights from each of the recipients’ lives, and President Levin presented each with a certificate. In addition, Debbie Kessler, incoming Hadassah Southern California President, came from Los Angeles to attend the event. She delivered an appeal for contributions to the stem cell work of Hadassah.

As I left, I recalled how my mother, Rose Schiff, of blessed memory, took me with her to Hadassah meetings when I was ten years old. I was impressed then, and continue to be impressed now, by the work of this vibrant and dedicated organization, founded 104 years ago by the brilliant visionary and activist, Henrietta Szold. With my daughters and son being life members, as well as my grandchildren, I am proud to be part of a four-generational Hadassah family. An event, such as last Sunday’s luncheon, renews my faith in the power of people, working together, to further a worthy cause.

Wingard is a freelance writer specializing in coverage of the arts.  She may be contacted via [email protected]

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