Quick Click: Vignettes from the Jewish News Archives, Jan. 29, 2015
Ruth Popkin was a force for change in the worldwide Jewish community. Born in Brooklyn, Popkin earned a bachelor’s degree in philosophy and worked at Sterns department store. After becoming a volunteer at Hadassah, she ultimately became its national president from 1984 to 1988. During her tenure, Hadassah became the largest women’s volunteer organization in the world.
From this position, Popkin pressured the United Nations to repeal its resolution equating Zionism with racism (successfully concluded in 1991) and was instrumental in making it possible for the first wave of Ethiopian Jewish immigrants to make aliyah in Israel. During her presidency, the Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem also made great advances in transplant surgery, imaging and genetic engineering.
In 1987, Popkin became president of the World Zionist Organization, the first woman ever to hold this position. She also served on a number of boards of noteworthy Jewish organizations, including a term as president of the Jewish National Fund beginning in 1989.
Although Ruth died on Jan. 2, 2015, at the age of 101, her accomplishments continue to benefit Jews worldwide.
By Carolyn Weiner, Detroit Jewish News Foundation Fellow
Want to learn more? Go to the DJN Foundation archives, available for free at www.djnfoundation.org.