Hadassah Honors Three Young Women with Its 2024 Leaders of Tomorrow Award

Hadassah, The Women’s Zionist Organization of America, announced that Shira Babajanov, 17, of Greater Houston; Nomi Gedzelman, 17, of New York City; and Talia Pierson, 15, of Westchester County, have won the organization’s 2024 Leaders of Tomorrow Award. The award, a merit-based scholarship, is given annually to three young women entering 11th or 12th Grade who are passionate about Israel and the Jewish people and whose accomplishments in high school show their potential to become community leaders as adults. 

Each winner will receive $1,000 towards the tuition for Gesher Israel, a summer leadership program offered by Young Judaea, the oldest Zionist youth movement in America and a longtime partner of Hadassah. Participants in Gesher Israel (gesher is Hebrew for bridge) spend three-and-a-half weeks in Israel honing their leadership skills, learning about the country’s culture and history and forging lifelong friendships.

“We congratulate these exceptional young women,” said Carol Ann Schwartz, Hadassah National President. “They have shown the skill and vision needed to inspire others and they are using their voices to support Zionism at a time when many are afraid to show their love for Israel.”

“I look forward to watching these young women grow into adults who will take their place as community leaders,” said Greta Rothschild, chair of Hadassah National Young Judaea. Added vice chair Elaine Silver, “Shira, Talia and Nomi exemplify a key part of Hadassah’s mission – to empower and inspire women of all ages to achieve their potential.”

 Local recipient includes Talia Pierson, 15 – Rising junior at Yorktown High School in Yorktown Heights, New York, in Westchester County: 

• Passion for Israel: To honor the victims of October 7, Talia has led fundraising efforts for displaced Israeli families and arranged moments of silence at her high school.

• Talent for Leadership:  Talia founded and heads the Justice Brandeis Law Society Junior Board, whose mission is to combat antisemitism and support Israel and the Jewish community.  As a member of Northern Westchester Hospital’s President’s Junior Leadership Council, she and other Westchester-based high school students discuss their communities’ health care challenges and work on ways to address them. Talia, a former competitive gymnast herself, now makes time to coach younger gymnasts.

• Making a Difference: Talia is active in Better Together, a local program that teaches students about the danger of hate and the importance of developing relationships across communities and worked to bring it to her school.

Created in 2014, Hadassah’s Leaders of Tomorrow Award grew out of a decades-long partnership between Hadassah, The Women’s Zionist Organization of America, which has been a powerful advocate for Israel and Zionism since 1912, and Young Judaea, the oldest Zionist youth movement in the United States. By providing scholarships that make it possible for American children and young adults to participate in Young Judaea’s summer camps, Israel programs, year-round activities and volunteer experiences, Hadassah is strengthening future generations’ connection to Israel and Zionism and shaping tomorrow’s Jewish leaders.

Visit or follow Hadassah on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter.