Barbara Sofer of Jerusalem, Israel is the Israel Director of Public Relations and Communications for Hadassah. She is a popular columnist in the Jerusalem Post, a journalist and novelist. She is a motivational speaker, in person and on Zoom, covering Israel, women’s spirituality, Bible and Judaism. Her trademark is telling true-life emotional eye-witness stories which teach and inspire. She likes to think of herself as a magida, an itinerant traveling teller of the wondrous stories of our times.
Barbara was an active member of the Zionist youth movement Young Judaea from age 10, and became Connecticut President when she was a senior in High School. That year, she led the youth march to the Capitol in Hartford to free Soviet Jewry and graduated as valedictorian of her class. As an undergraduate at the University of Pennsylvania, she wrote for the Daily Pennsylvanian newspaper and acted in the satiric review The Underground. After graduating, she fulfilled her idealistic goal of moving to Israel. She completed her MA at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem while teaching in a periphery development town and at Jerusalem’s prestigious University High School. Always a writer by profession, she has contributed to Hadassah Magazine for decades, and has covered articles in all sectors of Israeli society. Her weekend magazine column in the Jerusalem Post is called “The Human Spirit”, and covers inspirational stories, her takes on life in Israel, and various issues that interest her. No two columns are alike. She writes a weekly 4-line concentrated facebook post on the Torah portion of the week.
In addition, her articles have appeared in the New York Times, the Boston Globe, Women’s Day, Reader’s Digest, and Parent’s to name a few. Barbara is the author of Kids Love Israel, Israel Loves Kids, Shalom Haver, Goodbye-Friend (Karben) written with Rachel Rabin, and The Thirteenth Hour, a novel, which received wide critical acclaim, published by Dutton, Penguin and Keter Publishing, in Hebrew, and llan Ramon, Israel’s Space Hero, (Lerner) a children’s biography of the late Israeli astronaut Ilan Ramon. The last has been reissued as part of the PJ Library series. She wrote the children’s book Keeping Israel Safe about the Israel Defense Force. Together with Holocaust survivor Rena Quint she wrote the moving memoir A Daughter of Many Mothers. She is currently working on a sequel to The Thirteenth Hour.
As the liaison from Hadassah’s projects to the foreign press, which included such top tier media programs as Sixty Minutes and Nightline, she contributed to the CNBC program Jerusalem ER, which won a 2003 Emmy Award. The positive press exposure was a key factor in Hadassah Medical Organization’s nomination for the 2005 Nobel Peace Prize. She appeared on Good Morning America’s Seven Wonders of the World Series as an expert on Jerusalem. She has produced and directed tens of films documenting the medical breakthroughs and amazing stories at Hadassah Medical Organizations and in the Youth Aliyah villages.
An impassioned lecturer, Barbara has spoken to many audiences around the world, Jewish and general, on Judaism, women and spiritual topics. She has served as a scholar-in-residence and visiting lecturer in a wide variety of venues, including synagogues, churches, regional conferences of Hadassah, national conventions, for Jewish communities and at schools. Her audiences cherish the stories she tells.
Barbara is the winner of eight Rockower Journalism awards for outstanding Jewish journalism and of the Sydney Taylor Award in 1996 for the best Jewish children’s book for her Shalom, Haver. She won the 2004 Special Award of the Israeli Association of Public Relations for her international campaign, “Island of Sanity” about the ability of Hadassah staff to maintain their values despite the experience of terror.
In addition to her BA and MA, she studied writing and film at the New School of Social Research and Fiction Writing at the Harvard University Extension. She completed the two-year forum in Zionist Leadership at the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem. She serves on the board of the Center for Women’s Justice and is an active member of the Shira Hadasha egalitarian Orthodox congregation in Jerusalem.
Her prizes include many Rockower awards for Jewish journalism, the Sidney Taylor Award for the best Jewish children’s book, and the 2008 Eliav-Sartawi Award for creating understanding through Middle Eastern journalism.
Sofer is married to scientist/writer Gerald Schroeder. They have five adult children whom they brought up in Israel and many beautiful Israel-born grandchildren.