On Thursday evening, Dec. 31, 2020, Hadassah-Israel held a very special Special Gifts Zoom Event that honored two exceptional people, Phyllis and Shmuel Levinson. Due to the pandemic, we had to forgo the catered meal at a fancy venue in favor of meeting and greeting each other over our computer screens. Nonetheless, a great time was had by everyone who attended – people from as near as Israel, and from as far away as the Levinson’s family and friends on the East and West Coasts of the U.S.

The evening began with a line dance by the midwives' dance troupe of the Maternity Department at Hadassah Ein Kerem. The women showed off their talents (besides delivering babies) while dancing to a popular song written by a South African DJ entitled, “Jerusalema.” Following a tribute to the Levinsons by Hadassah-Israel’s National President, Michal Shmueli, the audience saw a short video of the activities in the COVID Ward in Ein Kerem, which was moderated by the head of the department, Prof. Sigal Sviri.

Entertainment for this event was provided by Israeli mentalist Eran Biderman who performed his astounding “tricks” and telepathy with several members of the audience − including Levinson family members in Portland, OR. Michael Levinson introduced his parents, and in another tribute, Anne Rothenberg, event chair, enumerated Phyllis’s long list of activities and accomplishments for Hadassah in the U.S. as well as for Hadassah-Israel.  

The Levinsons received the “Builders of Jerusalem” Award from Michal Shmueli. The certificate read: "This Builders of Jerusalem Award is presented by Hadassah-Israel to Phyllis and Shmuel Levinson in recognition of their support, continuing endeavors, and generous contribution toward improving the level of health care of the people of Jerusalem and Israel. [signed] Michal Shmueli, Hadassah-Israel National President, Dec. 31, 2020." Phyllis responded, revisiting her 27 years in Jerusalem, and thanking the many women who had helped her with her national presidency and many additional projects. 

The chair of the evening then offered a “L’chaim” to the participants, wishing that 2021 be a year full of health and happiness, of family and friends, of relief from COVID, and continued success for our health care providers. Finally, the evening ended with a Flash Dance in the lobby of the hospital at Ein Kerem, featuring musicians and performers from the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance.

Thankfully, the event achieved its goal! Over NIS100,000 was raised to purchase an additional Remote Patient Monitor for the COVID Unit, which will protect medical staff from unnecessary exposure to COVID patients. Anyone interested in making a donation to Hadassah-Israel can contact Anne Rothenberg at jrothen518@aol.com or Lona Lehr, Hadassah-Israel Project Manager, at lonal@hadassah-israel.org.il.

Anne Rothenberg
Chair, Special Gifts 2020

2020’s Unusual ‘Special Gifts’ Event

Organising the annual ‘Special Gifts’ event is always a challenge but even more so for the 31st December 2020 event, honouring Phyllis and Shmuel Levinson. For the first time Special Gifts went ‘virtual’ and with great success!

The programme was well planned and varied, combining video clips from Hadassah Hospital with warm messages of welcome from Committee Chair, Anne Rothenberg, and National H‑I President, Michal Shmueli. The entertainment was provided by Mentalist, Eran Biderman – his interactive feats, with playing cards and phone calculators, astounded us. . . “How did he do that?” we asked ourselves.

The evening continued with greetings from Marlene Post, former HWZOA National President, who emphasised how thrilled the Levinsons’ family, friends and the whole community will be to welcome them back to Portland, Oregon. Their son, Michael, then introduced his parents before Anne and Michal presented them with the impressive ‘Builders of Jerusalem’ certificate for their significant contribution to Israeli society.

Phyllis responded, expressing her very positive feelings about their years in Israel and her roles in Hadassah-Israel. She also paid tribute to her very close friend, Marva Levine z”l, who sadly passed away just before this event.

Before the musical finale, Anne led us all in a l’Chaim to this very special couple and to a better year for everyone in 2021.

Huge thanks to the Committee for its hard work in creating and carrying off this ‘alternative’ Special Gifts event so successfully and our love and best wishes for the future to Phyllis and Shmuel.

Lee & Stan Freeman
Oren Chapter, Haifa
January 2021