The first woman in her synagogue to chant Haftorah, Hadassah Blocker taught hundreds of women to take part in the Torah service. As the director of a camp for Jewish girls in Pembroke, Massachusetts, Blocker had a strong connection to the Jewish community but, like many women of her generation, grew up believing that women couldn’t participate in synagogue services. With the encouragement of her father, an Orthodox rabbi, and Rabbi Chiel, leader of her synagogue, she began learning to chant Torah and Haftorah as an adult, and became the first woman to chant Haftorah at Temple Emanuel of Newton in the 1960s. While there was initial resistance from both men and women to her leading parts of the service, Blocker quickly became a cornerstone of synagogue life, leading services and training women of all ages for their bat mitzvahs. Many of those women, spurred by her example, went on to not only lead services themselves, but to pursue their Jewish educations at Hebrew College.
Hadassah Blocker was honored at the 2004 Women Who Dared event in Boston.