An ‘extraordinary’ day of learning

An ‘extraordinary’ day of learning

Melody Stevens, left, with symposium chair Iris Katz of Morganville, told the Hadassah gathering that “worry is a misuse of imagination.” 
Melody Stevens, left, with symposium chair Iris Katz of Morganville, told the Hadassah gathering that “worry is a misuse of imagination.” 

Members of Hadassah learned how to manage their time, how lobbyists win support for Israel, and how Israeli medical researchers are saving lives there and around the world, during a day of talks and workshops in Monroe.

About 100 women attended the April 28 annual education symposium of the Southern New Jersey Region of Hadassah at the Crowne Plaza hotel.

Region president Sherryl Kaufman of East Brunswick called the program a “Hadassah moment” for convening with members and exchanging ideas.

Leaders announced that the organization last year raised $99.6 million nationally — exceeding its goal of $85.7 million — and $891,172 locally.

Membership, they said, stands at 285,674 nationally and 13,579 in southern New Jersey.

Keeping with the day’s theme, Ordinary People Doing Extraordinary Things, attendees learned about breakthrough medical technologies developed by Hadassah Hospital researchers, including orally ingested insulin for diabetics and the use of stem cells in the treatment of leukemia and to assist in bone marrow transplants.

“We were proud that techniques from Hadassah Hospital were helpful in saving lives in Boston,” in the wake of the marathon bombings, said executive vice president Debbie Kestin Schildkraut of Edison. “Israeli doctors rewrote the book on blast trauma. Our Hadassah doctors have been treating these kinds of injuries and sharing this knowledge all over the world. We are part of this amazing organization.”

Keynote speaker Melody Stevens of Manalapan offered tips on time management. The author of Time Millionaire: 100 Ways to Gain an Extra Hour a Day shared her secrets about living life with “fun, peace, and joy.” Tactics included countering “tech addiction” by limiting time spent checking e-mails, smartphones, and social media accounts to two or three times a day, and refusing to listen to whiners and complainers, who suck time and happiness from other’s lives.

“We’re Jewish women — how can we not worry?” asked Stevens. “It’s a shanda not to worry about our husbands, kids, our job. Without worry what would we do? But worry is a misuse of imagination, and it will suck your time.”

Stevens, owner of Academy of Music on Main Street in Spotswood and Academy of Music in Old Bridge, is also a singer and consultant. She is about to open a preschool in Brooklyn that includes music and the arts as part of its core curriculum.

“If we let it, the world will bring us down,” said Stevens. “Just like you fight for Israel, you have to fight for what makes you a better person. You have to fight the negativity. Ladies, I absolve you of guilt right now.”

In another session, Paula Joffe — a member of the national executive committee for AIPAC — described how she lobbied key legislators on Israel “through knowledge and training.”Joffe is cofounder of JD Partners, which advances the business development goals of Israeli startup companies, and is founder of, which showcases Israeli jeweler designers.

Retired Lt. Col. Matthew Weingast of East Windsor, a 23-year veteran who saw three combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, spoke of being Jewish in the military. Weingast solemnly told stories of incredible heroism by soldiers, including Army Spc. Marc Seiden, also an East Windsor native, who was killed in 2004 in Baghdad when his convoy was ambushed.

“It is an honor to tell you their names and tell their stories,” said Weingast, vice president and senior group counsel for DRS Technologies, a defense and security technologies company in Parsippany.

Rabbi Rebecca Sirbu of Teaneck, the director of Rabbis Without Borders for CLAL-the National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership, taught members how to use social media such as Facebook and Twitter to get out Hadassah’s message.

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