Reward for a Mitzvah – a Mitzvah
While speaking with Ziona Sasson – who is leaving the Children's Home this month (September 2011) we are reminded again and again of the old saying that guided her through all her 35 years as Director of Public Relations "Save one soul and you save the whole world".
The title of the position Ziona held does not begin to describe the great scope of her contribution to the home. Her unique talents to influence and get people involved, to exert authority and to inspire, featured in every Children's Home event, public initiative, relationship with outside connections, fundraising effort and publicity campaign.
A brief description of these attributes is recorded by Gerard Pulver, the Director General of the Children's Home, who has known and worked with Ziona for many years.
"After 35 fruitful years of work at the Children's Home we are saying goodbye to Ziona with great love and respect. Ziona has a lot due her from the Children's Home in her various capacities. She had great accomplishments in fundraising for the betterment of the care for our children and for the building of our new beautiful campus, and for many other worthwhile programs and projects that are too many to mention.
Ziona learned to connect us with many friends from all over the world who, through her personality and her professionalism, have become loyal supporters of the Home. She ruled with an iron fist over the organization of events and our yearly seminars, greatly publicized the work of our institution and greatly contributed to the dissemination and the earned respect of our therapeutic doctrine. Always determined, always smiling, always optimistic and supportive, even during difficult times, always full of initiative and creative ideas, she always had the welfare of the children first in her thoughts.
We are parting from a dear colleague who, for me, symbolizes eternal commitment to the Children's Home, to its development and its success. This is only a partial parting, at least we hope. We will continue to be in touch, to rely on her experience and to nurture a friendship of many years. Many blessings to Ziona who begins a new chapter in her life, from all the staff of the Children's Home, the Kemper Group House and the Goldie Kassell Center. "
In January 1966, at the age of 23, Ziona made Aliya with her family from Philadelphia. Having already an MA degree in Anthropology, she became a researcher at "Hadassah" within the
| With rosalynn Carter and Ofira Navon
framework of a comparative study on child development from different communities, origins and immigrations. After her marriage she left her profession for 7 years while concentrating on raising her family of 3 children. In 1976 she joined the Children's Home.
"On the first day I was walking down the corridor," Ziona recalls "and a 7-year-old boy, blond and beautiful, come up to me and gave me a big hug. I didn't yet know how to relate to this type of behavior. Over time I got to know the child better, as he grew up, constantly trying to overcome his very difficult personal problems. In 1993 as we planned a ceremony marking 50 years to the Children's Home, I was looking for graduates who would participate in the even. What an extraordinary experience it was to have found this same young troubled boy now a successful man, the owner of a popular fashion clothing store in Ramat Gan and to give him the invitation....."
With her experience as a youthful camp counselor in the US, Ziona enjoyed being called on to be a replacement counselor in one of the dormitories when the regular counselor was called up for military duty during the Yom Kippur War. She always looked to be close to the children, and always had a deep love for the caregivers who in her words do a holy work.
All this is now coming to an end.
To the question 'what next?' after such an intensive period in her life, Ziona answers "In the first stage I am going out to the wide world. I intend to travel to fascinating and far destinations. First to China and Vietnam. Perhaps I will teach English there for a time. I have 27 years of experience teaching the language. That being said, I am not disconnecting from the Children's Home. I will continue to contribute in whatever I can."
The above is only the tip of the iceberg, an impossible effort of summarizing 35 years of giving without end. The many children who met Ziona over the years, the teachers, the counselors, the directors and staff, know however, that this is the end of an epic, memorable chapter in the history of the Children's Home.
Ziona is being replaced, after an intensive
training period, by Shira Skolnik.