You don’t see a lot of women on the floor of the Stock Exchange," said River Vale resident Simone Wilker, who recently took part in "Inside Wall Street with Hadassah," a program of the organization’s Women in Finance and Business Special Interest Group.
"But there are a lot of them upstairs as department heads and in many prestigious positions. I feel great about that."
Simone Wilker, left, and Helen Goodman of Chestnut Ridge, N.Y., admire "The Bull" near the New York Stock Exchange in Manhattan.
In May, some 30 Hadassah women from around the United States participated in a two-day exploration of New York’s financial center in some cases, said Wilker, the fund-raising chair of Hadassah’s Pascack Valley chapter, visiting financial institutions that have been closed to the public since 9/11. Among other sites, the group visited the Mercantile Exchange, the Federal Reserve Bank, and Bloomberg LPP.
The speakers, including the CEO of Israel’s Ormat Industries and the Israeli Economic Minister, were "first rate," added Wilker, co-owner with her husband of Alphagraphics in Paramus and the manager of the pediatric endocrine lab at New York Medical College.
She said that the experience was comparable to trips taken for her MBA program.
"I visited banks in Brussels and Paris," she said. "But this program was of the same caliber."
"There was a wonderful mix of women, many with their own businesses, and from all over the country. They’ll go back now and encourage other professional women to join the group and be part of Hadassah," said Wilker.
"We’re a women’s Zionist organization," said Wilker, explaining that while Hadassah remains devoted to its original mission supporting and enhancing the medical system in Israel and continues to support both Young Judaea programs and Youth Aliyah, the organization also takes positions on issues of concern to Jewish women both here and in Israel.
According to Wilker, through its special interest groups, Hadassah is seeking to make itself more appealing to professional women.
"Special interest groups have two goals," she said. Not only can they serve as a recruitment tool, but "they [also] make women more knowledgeable about particular issues so they can advocate on behalf of our positions."
The Wall Street trip was effective in "tying ourselves in with other Jewish women," said Wilker, pointing out that many of the speakers including "one of the top earners in the real estate industry were Jewish.
Allison Karpel, Hadassah manager of special interest groups, noted that similar groups exist for attorneys, physicians, nurses, and "general professionals."
"We’re looking to engage professional women [who are] members of Hadassah with activities of interest to them," she said, adding that while all activities tie back in some way to the mission of the organization the emphasis of the business group was on investing in Israeli companies specific activities vary with each group.
For example, she said, "the nurses’ group is working to raise money to support nurses at Hadassah hospital [in Israel]," but they also are active in the U.S., trying to encourage young people to attend nursing school.
For more information about Hadassah special interest groups, call (‘1’) 303-8183.