Henrietta Szold

Henrietta Szold

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Henrietta Szold was a U.S. Jewish Zionist
Zionism
Zionism is a Jewish political movement that, in its broadest sense, has supported the self-determination of the Jewish people in a sovereign Jewish national homeland. Since the establishment of the State of Israel, the Zionist movement continues primarily to advocate on behalf of the Jewish state...

 leader and founder of the Hadassah
Hadassah
Hadassah, the Women's Zionist Organization of America is an American Jewish volunteer women's organization. Founded in 1912 by Henrietta Szold, it is one of the largest international Jewish organizations, with around...

 Women's Organization. In 1942, she co-founded Ihud
Ihud
Ihud was a small binationalist Zionist political party founded by Judah Leon Magnes, Martin Buber, Ernst Simon and Henrietta Szold, former supporters of Brit Shalom, in 1942 following the Biltmore Conference. The party was dedicated to Arab–Jewish reconciliation, and advocated an Arab–Jewish state...

, a political party in Mandate Palestine dedicated to a binational solution
Binational solution
The one-state solution and the similar binational solution are proposed approaches to resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Proponents of a binational solution to the conflict advocate either a single state in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza Strip, or a single state in Israel and the West...

.

Biography


Henrietta Szold was born in Baltimore, Maryland, the daughter of Rabbi Benjamin Szold
Benjamin Szold
Benjamin Szold was an American rabbi and scholar....

, who was the spiritual leader of Baltimore's Temple Oheb Shalom. She was the eldest of eight daughters. In 1877, she graduated from Western Female High School. For fifteen years, she taught at Miss Adam’s School and Oheb Shalom religious school, and gave Bible and history courses for adults. To further her own education, she attended public lectures at Johns Hopkins University
Johns Hopkins University
The Johns Hopkins University, commonly referred to as Johns Hopkins, JHU, or simply Hopkins, is a private research university based in Baltimore, Maryland, United States...

 and the Peabody Institute
Peabody Institute
The Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University is a renowned conservatory and preparatory school located in the Mount Vernon neighborhood of Baltimore, Maryland at the corner of Charles and Monument Streets at Mount Vernon Place.-History:...

.

Szold established the first American night school to provide English language instruction and vocational skills to Russian Jewish immigrants in Baltimore. Beginning in 1893, she worked for the Jewish Publication Society, a position she maintained for over two decades. Her commitment to Zionism was heightened by a trip to Palestine
Palestine
Palestine is a conventional name, among others, used to describe the geographic region between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, and various adjoining lands....

 in 1909. She founded Hadassah in 1912 and served as its president until 1926. In 1933 she immigrated to Palestine and helped run Youth Aliyah
Youth Aliyah
Szold was initially skeptical about the merits of Freier's proposal, as she believed that Germany offered better educational opportunities for Jewish children than Palestine. However, Hitler's rise to power convinced her otherwise. The Nuremberg Laws were enacted in 1935 and on 31 March 1936 German...

, an organization that rescued 30,000 Jewish children from Nazi Europe.

Henrietta Szold was 84 when she died at Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem, on February 13, 1945. She is buried on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem. She had no children.

Zionism and origins of Hadassah


In 1896, one month before Theodor Herzl
Theodor Herzl
Theodor Herzl , born Benjamin Ze’ev Herzl was an Ashkenazi Jew Austro-Hungarian journalist and the father of modern political Zionism and in effect the State of Israel.-Early life:...

 published his magnum opus, Der Judenstaat
Der Judenstaat
Der Judenstaat is a book written by Theodor Herzl and published in 1896 in Leipzig and Vienna by M. Breitenstein's Verlags-Buchhandlung...

, Szold described her vision of a Jewish state in Palestine
Palestine
Palestine is a conventional name, among others, used to describe the geographic region between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, and various adjoining lands....

 as a place to ingather Diaspora Jewry and revive Jewish culture. In 1898, the Federation of American Zionists
Zionist Organization of America
The Zionist Organization of America , founded in 1897, was one of the first official Zionist organizations in the United States, and, especially early in the 20th century, the primary representative of Jewish Americans to the World Zionist Organization, espousing primarily Political Zionism.Today,...

 elected Szold as the only female member of its executive committee. During World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

, she was the only woman on the Provisional Executive Committee for General Zionist Affairs.

In 1909, at age 49, Szold traveled to Palestine for the first time and discovered her life's mission: the health, education and welfare of the Yishuv
Yishuv
The Yishuv or Ha-Yishuv is the term referring to the body of Jewish residents in Palestine before the establishment of the State of Israel...

 (pre-state Jewish community of Palestine). Szold joined six other women to found Hadassah, which recruited American Jewish women to upgrade health care in Palestine. Hadassah's first project was the inauguration of an American-style visiting nurse program in Jerusalem. Hadassah funded hospitals, a medical school, dental facilities, x-ray clinics, infant welfare stations, soup kitchens and other services for Palestine's Jewish and Arab inhabitants. Szold persuaded her colleagues that practical programs open to all were critical to Jewish survival in the Holy Land
Holy Land
The Holy Land is a term which in Judaism refers to the Kingdom of Israel as defined in the Tanakh. For Jews, the Land's identifiction of being Holy is defined in Judaism by its differentiation from other lands by virtue of the practice of Judaism often possible only in the Land of Israel...

.

In the 1920s and 1930s she was a supporter of Brit Shalom, a small organization dedicated to Arab-Jewish unity and a binational solution
Binational solution
The one-state solution and the similar binational solution are proposed approaches to resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Proponents of a binational solution to the conflict advocate either a single state in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza Strip, or a single state in Israel and the West...

. In 1942, she was one of the co-founders of the Ihud
Ihud
Ihud was a small binationalist Zionist political party founded by Judah Leon Magnes, Martin Buber, Ernst Simon and Henrietta Szold, former supporters of Brit Shalom, in 1942 following the Biltmore Conference. The party was dedicated to Arab–Jewish reconciliation, and advocated an Arab–Jewish state...

 party which advocated the same program.

Mourners' Kaddish


Henrietta Szold was the oldest of eight daughters, and had no brothers. In Orthodox Judaism
Orthodox Judaism
Orthodox Judaism , is the approach to Judaism which adheres to the traditional interpretation and application of the laws and ethics of the Torah as legislated in the Talmudic texts by the Sanhedrin and subsequently developed and applied by the later authorities known as the Gaonim, Rishonim, and...

, it was not the norm for women to recite the Mourners' Kaddish
Kaddish
Kaddish is a prayer found in the Jewish prayer service. The central theme of the Kaddish is the magnification and sanctification of God's name. In the liturgy different versions of the Kaddish are used functionally as separators between sections of the service...

. In 1916, Szold's mother died, and a friend, Hayim Peretz, offered to say kaddish for her. In a letter, she thanked Peretz for his concern, but said she would do it herself.
I know well, and appreciate what you say about the Jewish custom; and Jewish custom is very dear and sacred to me. And yet I cannot ask you to say Kaddish after my mother. The Kaddish means to me that the survivor publicly and markedly manifests his wish and intention to assume the relation to the Jewish community, which his parent had, and that so the chain of tradition remains unbroken from generation to generation, each adding its own link. You can do that for the generations of your family, I must do that for the generations of my family.


Szold's answer to Peretz is cited by "Women and the Mourners' Kaddish," a responsum
Responsa
Responsa comprise a body of written decisions and rulings given by legal scholars in response to questions addressed to them.-In the Roman Empire:Roman law recognised responsa prudentium, i.e...

 written by Rabbi David Golinkin
David Golinkin
David Golinkin is a rabbi, author and President and Rector of the Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies, Israel. He is a major halachic authority in the Masorti movement in Israel....

. This responsa, adopted unanimously by the Committee on Jewish Law and Standards
Committee on Jewish Law and Standards
The Committee on Jewish Law and Standards is the central authority on halakha within Conservative Judaism; it is one of the most active and widely known committees on the Conservative movement's Rabbinical Assembly. Within the movement it is known as the CJLS...

 of Conservative Judaism
Conservative Judaism
Conservative Judaism is a modern stream of Judaism that arose out of intellectual currents in Germany in the mid-19th century and took institutional form in the United States in the early 1900s.Conservative Judaism has its roots in the school of thought known as Positive-Historical Judaism,...

, permits women to recite the Mourners' Kaddish in public when a minyan
Minyan
A minyan in Judaism refers to the quorum of ten Jewish adults required for certain religious obligations. According to many non-Orthodox streams of Judaism adult females count in the minyan....

 is present.

Commemoration


Kibbutz
Kibbutz
A kibbutz is a collective community in Israel that was traditionally based on agriculture. Today, farming has been partly supplanted by other economic branches, including industrial plants and high-tech enterprises. Kibbutzim began as utopian communities, a combination of socialism and Zionism...

 Kfar Szold
Kfar Szold
Kfar Szold is a kibbutz in the Hula Valley in the Upper Galilee area of Israel.-History:Kfar Szold was founded during the 1940s by Jewish immigrants from Hungary, Austria and Germany and was named after Henrietta Szold, who founded Hadassah, the Women's Zionist organization...

, in Upper Galilee
Upper Galilee
The Upper Galilee is a geographical-political term in use since the end of the Second Temple period, originally referring to a mountainous area overlapping the present northern Israel and southern Lebanon, its borders being the Litani river in the north, the Mediterranean Sea in the west, the Beit...

 is named after her. The Palmach
Palmach
The Palmach was the elite fighting force of the Haganah, the underground army of the Yishuv during the period of the British Mandate of Palestine. The Palmach was established on May 15, 1941...

, in recognition of her commitment to "Aliyat Hanoar" Youth Aliyah
Youth Aliyah
Szold was initially skeptical about the merits of Freier's proposal, as she believed that Germany offered better educational opportunities for Jewish children than Palestine. However, Hitler's rise to power convinced her otherwise. The Nuremberg Laws were enacted in 1935 and on 31 March 1936 German...

, named the illegal immigration (Ha'apalah) ship "Henrietta Szold" after her. The ship, carrying immigrants from the Kiffisia orphanage in Athens
Athens
Athens , is the capital and largest city of Greece. Athens dominates the Attica region and is one of the world's oldest cities, as its recorded history spans around 3,400 years. Classical Athens was a powerful city-state...

, sailed from Piraeus on July 30, 1946, with 536 immigrants on board, and arrived on August 12, 1946. The passengers resisted capture, but were transferred to transport for Cyprus.

The Henrietta Szold Institute, National Institute for Research in the Behavioral Sciences, located in Jerusalem, is named after her. The institute is Israel's foremost planner of behavioral science intervention and training programs.

Public School 134 on Manhattan's Lower East Side
Lower East Side
The Lower East Side, LES, is a neighborhood in the southeastern part of the New York City borough of Manhattan. It is roughly bounded by Allen Street, East Houston Street, Essex Street, Canal Street, Eldridge Street, East Broadway, and Grand Street....

 in New York City is named after her.

In 2007, Szold was inducted into the American National Women's Hall of Fame
National Women's Hall of Fame
The National Women's Hall of Fame is an American institution. It was created in 1969 by a group of people in Seneca Falls, New York, the location of the 1848 Women's Rights Convention...

.

In Israel, Mother's Day is celebrated on the day that Szold died, on the 30th of Shevat.

Szold Place, formerly Dry Dock Street runs from East 10th Street to East 12th Street in the East Village
East Village, Manhattan
The East Village is a neighborhood in the borough of Manhattan in New York City, lying east of Greenwich Village, south of Gramercy and Stuyvesant Town, and north of the Lower East Side...

 neighborhood of NYC.

External links