In August 2023 we celebrated the legacy of Marc Chagall at a special event at the Jewish Museum of Australia - Gandel Centre of Judaica. At this time of year, as we count down the days to Rosh Hashana, Chagall’s lyrically beautiful art encouraged me to contemplate the past, look around at our community, and think about his and our hopes for a better future and how we can make a difference.
In the words of Hadassah founder, the inspiring Henrietta Szold, “Dare to dream...and when you dream, dream big”. That’s the story behind the Chagall windows in the Abell Synagogue at Hadassah Ein Kerem in Jerusalem.
Just a few short years after Israel was established, the President of Hadassah Women in America travelled to France to ask Chagall if he would create an artwork for Hadassah Hospital. To her surprise, he responded that he had been waiting his entire life to be asked to serve the Jewish people and, in creating the windows, he was giving back to his people.
He saw the windows as a symbol of hope and light, illuminating the road taking the Jewish people from difficult times to a brighter future.
So, this month, more than half a century later, for the first time in Australia, we are able to experience the magnitude and magnificence of his gift.
Attendees were warmly welcomed by Hadassah Australia President, Ron Finkel, and were treated to a beautiful virtual tour of the Chagall windows, with their deeply symbolic and colourful references to traditional Jewish life.
Board Director, Lynda Brest spoke eloquently, linking Chagall's artistic vision of bringing light and hope to the people of Israel with our Hadassah-Achotenu Ethiopian-Israeli scholarships in Health Program. Marc Chagall would undoubtedly have loved the story Lynda told, a story with significant impact bringing joy and meaning to a disadvantaged Israeli community.
In concluding, Lynda said, "I hope you can see why for me the Hadassah-Achotenu program embodies the light, hope, and healing, and the connection to Israel and the Jewish people reflected in Chagall’s aspirations for his legacy – the Hadassah windows."
With thanks to James Parini, guests were delighted to be guided through the beautifully curated Chagall exhibition, showcasing Chagall’s poignant and poetic art, including the 12 windows. The event celebrated not only Chagall's artistic splendour, but also our program’s significant achievements.
For more information about the Hadassah-Achotenu Ethiopian-Israeli University Scholarship in Health Program Click here
Ruth R Rosen