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How My Mother Inspired Me to Make a Difference in the World

“She always shows courage through whatever adversity comes her way with her positive attitude, determination, and beautiful smile.”

kikovic / Shutterstock
kikovic / Shutterstock

One of my fondest memories as a child was going to our family’s dear friends’ house for Shabbat dinner. The Marchick family had a beautiful Shabbat tradition where Eshet Chayil, a 22-verse poem found in Proverbs 31, which describes qualities of an ideal Jewish woman was read, usually by the husband, in translated English each week. When Dr. Marchick got to the passage, “Her children come forward and bless her,” the kids would stand quickly and say, “Bless you.” I always enjoyed that loving act. When my husband Phil and I became parents and he decided to recite Eshet Chayil on Shabbat, I was thrilled. It’s a beautiful custom; the fact that 24-years later he recites it on a regular basis and my daughters still look at me with twinkles in their eyes when he reads that verse is pretty remarkable. 

Eshet Chayil sometimes gets misjudged to diminishing womanhood to cooking, cleaning, and producing children. To me, this proverb is more about character than being a dutiful wife. It’s not about how clean our house is, how good our meals taste or how perfect our children may or may not be, it’s about how we do it. It’s about tapping into our strength as women, doing our jobs with integrity, and showing bravery when we need to. 

My mother, Linda Glesser Morris, set the standard high in our family, and I honor my mom for leading by example. She always shows courage through whatever adversity comes her way with her positive attitude, determination, and beautiful smile.  Mom is the second branch of our four generation Hadassah Life Member family, served on the Hadassah National Board for over 30 years and has been a proud Honorary Council Member since 2003. She taught me the mitzvah of volunteerism, the importance of Tikkun Olam, and ignited my love and passion for Hadassah. 

I have a vivid memory from 1979. I am 12 years old. I am at a luncheon in a Hotel Ballroom standing on a dais behind a lectern with an American Flag on one side and an Israeli flag on the other. My mom is so eloquently speaking to the hundred or so fancy dressed, impassioned women with bouffant hairdo’s that are all looking at me with smiles on their faces as she presents me with a Life Membership to her beloved organization, Hadassah. I remember standing there being pinned while everyone was cheering and clapping. Next, my mother and grandmother were presented with their 3-generation pins and the cheers got louder. I can imagine the pride my mom felt as she made me a Life Member and it’s probably pretty close to how she felt last December when I was installed as a Second-Generation Region President of Hadassah Southern California, continuing the legacy that she started when she was installed as the Central Pacific Coast Region President in 1983. Now we both wear our Region President pin and our 4-generation life member pin as my two daughters, her granddaughters, are also Hadassah Life Members.

My mom took me on my first trip to Israel on a Hadassah Mission in 1987. I was 20 years old and I will never forget the pride I felt when I saw both my parents’ names and my Grandmothers name on the Founders Wall at Hadassah Hospitals Mt. Scopus and Ein Kerem. A legacy that I knew I would continue as I got older. My mom then took me back to Israel in 2012 for the Centennial Convention celebrating Hadassah’s 100th Birthday and again as I walked through the hallways I saw more and more generous donor plaques gracing the walls, patient rooms and nurse’s stations and it made me so proud to be a member and leader of Hadassah. It makes my heart swell and I get goosebumps and tears in my eyes knowing that my grandmother, my mom and now I am making a difference in the lives of the people in Israel and all over the world.

Michelle Conwisar Hadassah Southern California (HSC) Region President Installation, Dec. 8, 2019; Pictured left to right: Michelle Conwisar; Sarah Conwisar (daughter); Linda Glesser Morris (mother); Jenna Conwisar (daughter); Dr. Philip Conwisar 
Pictured: Michelle Conwisar and her mom, Linda Glesser Morris

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