March is National Women’s History Month and throughout our history, women have played a significant role, from the first Jewish woman, Sarah, to Purim’s celebrated Queen Esther.
For those who do not know the story, King Ahasuerus has unknowingly taken a Jewish woman to be his queen. Her cousin Mordecai uncovered and prevented a plot to kill the king and Haman, the king’s advisor, becomes jealous when Mordecai refuses to bow down to him. Haman vows to destroy the Jewish people. Learning this, Mordecai asks the queen to intercede. The queen does so, revealing herself as a Jew and saving the Jewish people. An interesting fact – the queen’s name is actually Hadassah but is known as Esther, the Hebrew word meaning “hidden,” as she kept her identity hidden from the king to avoid persecution.
Today we see the embodiment of Esther in the women of Women’s Philanthropy. This group recently completed several acts of loving kindness throughout our community during their Mitzvah Day. Our Lions of Judah each contribute a minimum of $5,000 to the annual campaign to help Jews in need. And, on March 20, hundreds of women will gather during IGNITION! to express their commitment to tikkun olam and to honor four amazing women: Alison Feinberg, Benée Hilton-Spiegel, Bari Kanefsky and Julee Landau Shahon.
Through Women’s Philanthropy, women of all ages and stages in their life’s journey make a personal and financial commitment to support the Jewish community locally, in Israel and in Jewish communities worldwide.
I am honored to work with so many bright, passionate and dedicated women – on our staff, among our volunteers and within the community. Ladies, you are truly modern-day Esthers, providing strength, leadership and compassion. Thank you.
Marty Haberer is the CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Phoenix.