News of a looming scandal at the top ranks of Hadassah, The Womens Zionist Organization of America, may have surprised and upset a veteran Denver member and leader of the organization, but not nearly enough to make her want to jump ship.
Sandy Schiff, a member of Hadassah for over 50 years and a board member of the Denver chapter for almost that long, has also served as president of the Denver chapters Masada group.
She admits that when she first read of allegations of misuse of funds among the organizations national leadership, the news was surprising and shocking, but shes withholding judgment on the innocence or guilt of those accused.
Schiff was the only local Hadassah leader contacted by the Intermountain Jewish News this week who commented publicly on the allegations. Calls to the presidents of the Denver and LEA chapters and email appeals to the office of Hadassahs Desert Mountain Region were either unreturned or met with No comment.
What these leaders were apparently unwilling to discuss are allegations that have surfaced in recent weeks published first in New Yorks Forward and later carried by JTA that Hadassahs current president, Marcie Natan, and former president, Nancy Falchuk, used corporate credit cards for personal travel and entertainment purposes.
The charges surfaced in a letter to Hadassah board members from Larry Blum, the organizations COO, who is presently on administrative leave and is himself under investigation for having allegedly used his own corporate credit card for personal purchases.
The allegations against all three officers are being looked into by an external, independent investigator, according to the organization.
In Denver, Schiff emphasized the tenuousness of those allegations, noting that they come from a source who is himself under investigation.
Hadassah is being prudent and theyre looking into both sides, she told the IJN this week. In reading the article it seems like Hadassah is following the same process for both investigations, which is probably the most prudent way to find out everything and base it on fact.
Theyre going to look into both sides of this and I think thats only fair. Until the facts are available Im personally going to focus on the 100th anniversary of Hadassah which ironically falls on Feb. 24 [today]. Im focusing my mind because I was very upset by this news on the thousands of lives that have been saved at Hadassah hospitals.
Schiff also mentioned Hadassahs well-known work in medical research and technology and Youth Aliyah programs, as well as the Sarah Wetsman Davidson Hospital Tower, slated to open in March adjacent to Hadassahs existing hospital in Ein Keren, Israel.
Schiff believes that whatever the outcome of Hadassahs in-house investigation, the scandal will not have a severe impact on the organization, just as the organizations substantial financial losses due to its investments with Bernie Madoff were unable to knock it off track.
I think were going to be just fine, she said. Were going to forge ahead and do wonderful things.
We just gained 55,000 or more new members this year for our centennial celebration offering. That shows that everybody is out there still supporting Hadassah and still believing in it.
Copyright © 2012 by the Intermountain Jewish News