Joining the Ranks of the Balabustas

Since I haven’t been chilling at the JEA Senior Lunch Bunch as of late, I’ve been needing an opportunity to get my fix of Savannah’s hilarious yentas.

Unforch, the mah-jong club doesn’t fit into my schedule, so I decided on the next best place to find hip, happenin’ Jewish ladies who call my (almost) 40 year-old punim a “baby face”: A Hadassah meeting.

Before yesterday, this is what I knew about

1. That it’s an international organization founded in 1912 to raise money to build hospitals and schools and scientific research facilities in Israel (including the colossal Sarah Wetsman Davidson Tower that aims to serve and heal all citizens, regardless of religion or ethnicity, to be dedicated in 2012.)

2. That Academy Award-winning actress Natalie Portman is its fabulous spokeswoman. (And while we’re here, a rousing “Mazel Tov” to Natalie on the birth of her baby boy on June 14! There has been a flurry of speculation on whether she and her fiancé, Benjamin Millepied—the man of a thousand feets—will raise their child Jewishly, BUT an absolute dearth of news on the child’s name and whether a bris took place on June 22. Has Nat—*gasp*—joined the ranks of the meshuggehneh intactivists?! Kinehora!)

3. That current Hadassah president, Nancy Falchuk, should have her own monument on Mount Scopus not only for the incredible job she’s done raising funds and awareness for the cause during her term but also for giving birth to Brad Falchuk, who in turn has given birth to the greatest TV show ever introduced to humankind, Glee.

4. That my favorite strawberry-haired Savannah yenta, Beezy, hits up my father-in-law every year to buy tickets to the local fundraiser even though my mother-in-law, a longtime member, can no longer attend. (Yes, OF COURSE he writes a check, because you don’t say no to Beezy.)

I never really thought of Hadassah as a place for me, ’cause let’s face it, I’m no big donor. In fact, I only joined this year because it was a requirement of Yenta Boy’s camp application. But after checking out the breadth of the projects and the commitment to compassion and peace, I feel like I’ve joined the ranks of a group of powerful Jewish women who get sh*t DONE. For 100 years come 2012, Hadassah has been a sorority of service—not such a bad place to put a few hours and dollars towards the greater good.

(I must admit I had a bit of wardrobe crisis deciding what to wear to my first Hadassah meeting. I’d been in my dreck gardening clothes all day and wanted something cool and flowy yet festive, but I thought my traditional African lappa might be too much for Beezy. I finally grabbed a zebra-print wrap dress my mother snuck into my suitcase on my last visit to Scottsdale. Turns out my fashion intuition was spot-on: Not only was I not the only animal in the room, but I was joined by a virtual safari of a leopard vest, another zebra in jacket form and a jungle motif that included a large red parrot. You can always count on the Jewish ladies to bring the wild.)

As part of my first efforts to my new cause, I must tell you that Hadassah is running a $100 lifetime membership special to celebrate its 100 year anniversary. Such a bargain! Many ladies are even making their daughters and granddaughters lifetime members to instill the spirit of service in the generations coming up. (Of course, this may prove to be a poor strategy later down the line when all the Jewish women under 40 are already Hadassah members, but it’s certainly beefing up the membership call lists now.)

So I encourage y’all to come join for life—animal prints are not required. Just our presence for now is enough to make a difference.

And if I find a way to get my Thursday mornings free, I promise to donate all my mah-jongg winnings.

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