Ruth Popkin, who served as national president of Hadassah and the Jewish National Fund, died Jan. 2 at the age of 101.
“We have lost a leader of great dignity and accomplishment,” said Marcie Natan, Hadassah’s current national president. “Ruth was a pillar not only of Hadassah but also of the Zionist movement. We are grateful for her years of dedication, her passion for Israel and the example she set.”
During Mrs. Popkin’s presidency, Hadassah’s projects in Israel made advances that are still felt today. At the Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem, high technology gained momentum, reaching new frontiers in imaging and lasers, in transplant surgery and genetic engineering. Youth Aliyah took in its first wave of students from Ethiopia. In America, Hadassah pressed forward in the struggle to repeal the U.N. resolution equating Zionism with racism, succeeding in 1991.
Prior to serving as national president, Mrs. Popkin had served as chair of the Hadassah Medical Organization.
One of the things for which Mrs. Popkin is most remembered is serving as co-chair of Hadassah’s first National Convention in Israel, in 1978.
Mrs. Popkin was also active on the broader stages of the Jewish community and the Zionist movement. In 1987, she was elected chair of the Presidium and president of the World Zionist Congress, the first woman ever to hold those positions. She served as a Hadassah delegate to seven Zionist Congresses, from 1966 to 2002.
Immediately after her presidential term at Hadassah, she served as president of the Jewish National Fund (1989-93).
Mrs. Popkin served as vice president of the National Jewish Community Relations Council. She also held positions on the boards of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the American Zionist Movement, American Israel Friendship League, American Friends of the Hebrew University, United Jewish Appeal, Israel Bonds and Temple Israel of Great Neck.