Helene Halle (right) with Nicky Dunsky, pictured in 1991
Dear Shari, Daphna and Joy,
This is my attempt to tell you some of my dearest memories about your beloved mother, a cornerstone of our Vered Hasharon Chapter, Hadassah-Israel, as well as a good friend.
Though I didn't know your mom when she was Chapter Chair Lady (as she liked to call the presidency), nor as Health Committee Chair, she spoke of her work often in order to give me advice about what to do during the time I had that privilege.
During my interview with her and Priscilla last summer, she said that she had joined Hadassah for the social side. It certainly bonded us. But she did much more than that. She was a great example of a loyal, hard-working volunteer. I marveled at how she managed to give much time to ESRA as well.
Board meetings were often held at your mother's apartment, and were always lavish, with tea and coffee served in fine china. When your late dad was there, he would add his delicious scones to the menu, and your mom would always make sure I had some to take home to Moshe. She seemed to have a special liking for him and would always ask about him in a funny, sweet way.
I dearly remember how your mom made sure that Ruthanne and I came to her granddaughter's wedding, and later on we had a “race” to see if your mom would become a first-time great-grandmother before I was to become a first-time grandmother, She won, but not by much, and we were able to enjoy our new statuses together. Another privilege we shared.
The first time we spoke, she made me laugh. We had met up outside the youth center in Raanana, where our Hadassah meeting was to take place, and I was fresh out of my Ulpan class, still trying to converse in Hebrew. Your mom reassured me by saying, “English is the language of the land!” I will dearly remember her for all of the above and much more.
On one of her visits, Helene presented me with two beautiful Limoges miniatures, knowing that I collected and enjoyed Limoges. I was so moved by this that I nervously dropped one of them, right before her eyes. She was very gracious over that frustration. I'm looking at them now - the one Moshe managed to glue back together and the one I managed to get into my display case in one piece. I treasure these even more today.
What your mother treasured most, above all, were you, her three daughters. And, of course, all the family, down to the great-grandchildren, but especially you three. Her love and pride in all of you were enormous.
May she rest in peace.
From Adele Hunter, Coordinator of ESRA Welfare Committee
The members of the Welfare Committee were very saddened to hear of the passing of one of its founder members Helene Halle. Helene was a retired social worker who gave a lot of her professional knowledge and understanding of people and families to the committee. When we had to make difficult decisions we always turned to Helene for her input which was so wise and thoughtful. If ever I personally needed any help with the work of the committee she would always volunteer. She phoned social workers for us and contacted the families before we made decisions. She was very professional in all she did. She was a lovely, kind person and always contributed words of wisdom. We will all miss her.
From Merle Guttmann, Founder of ESRA and Honorary Life President
I loved Helene. She was a solid, wise, and deep-thinking person, and a real individualist. One of ESRA’s early active volunteers, Helene served as Chairperson in 1991 - 1992. She wrote of her term of office: “I was privileged to be Chairlady of ESRA during the massive immigration of Jews from the Former Soviet Union and from Ethiopia. It was very exciting to be part of these historical developments and ESRA was able to help in a variety of ways. It was during my term that Merle and ESRA won the President’s Award for volunteering and that made us all very proud and pleased.”
Helene volunteered weekly in our Second Hand Shop in Raanana for twenty years from 1992 – 2012, and she loved it. She spoke of the interesting people she met there and the warm atmosphere and friendly volunteers and staff.
Her contribution to ESRA was significant and she was recognized with four outstanding volunteer awards: in 1992 as a Past Chair, in 1996 as a social worker in the Welfare Committee team, in 1997 for her work in the Second Hand Shop, and again in 2004.
I will never forget how she guided us so wisely in two important decisions we made in the ESRA Immigrant Fund (later Community Fund), which paved the way for the type of projects we chose to create. We were asked by the Jewish Agency to go on a tour of caravan sites where immigrants were housed. Our volunteer representative came back and reported to us about the various sites and recommended that we invest in providing shade in Hatzrot Yasaf (near Acco). Helene said, “What, ESRA is going to raise moneys to give shade? That is the job of the government.” Instead, we created a meaningful and beautiful project in Hatzrot Yasaf – a learning center (with a hot lunch) to prepare pre-school Ethiopian children to be ready for their first year of schooling. The second memorable occasion for me was when the regional coordinator of immigrant absorption in the Emek Hefer region came to us asking for money for sports equipment, and balls. Again, Helene interjected with, “What, our fund is going to supply balls? Let someone else do that.” Instead, we created two after-school learning centers daily, with a hot meal, on the caravan sites of Beerotayim and Hatzrot Hefer, teaching hundreds of Russian and Ethiopian school-children for several years.
It was Helene who brought us our first treasurer for our newly formed ESRA Immigrant Fund in 1991 – her husband Shimon, who had just retired from Zim. It was a great recommendation and Shimon was fantastic. He guided us on how to mold and run the fund financially, encouraging us to go ahead with courage and vision. For that, too, I am grateful to Helene.
Thank you, Helene, for your long years of volunteering, and for valuable and wise advice and guidance on our community fund and welfare committees. For being you: warm, unassuming, modest, hands-on, and always helpful.
Helene Magid was born in Cape Town, South Africa in January 1929. She studied social work at Cape Town University and made aliyah in 1950. She met Shimon Halle at work and they got married in South Africa at the end of 1951. They lived in Nahariya until 1957 and then moved to live in Haifa where Shimon was working. They had three daughters - Joy (b. 1952), Daphna (b. 1957) and Shari (b. 1969).
Helene worked as a District Supervisor in the northern region of Israel for the Welfare Ministry, in the department of retarded children, and then moved with her family to Herzliya and continued working in Tel Aviv, as a supervisor for children and youth. After retiring, Helene joined Hadassah and ESRA and continued volunteering until few years before her death. In both organizations, Helene served as chairlady. Her last “job”, which she did for twenty years, was at the ESRA shop in Raanana which she loved very much.
Helene with with great grandchildren, Ivri, 1, and Ariel, 4, her pride and joy