Henrietta Szold

Henrietta Szold

Henrietta Szold (December 21, 1860 – February 13, 1945) was a U.S. Jewish Zionist leader and founder of the Hadassah Women's Organization.


Henrietta Szold was born in Baltimore, Maryland, the daughter of a rabbi, Benjamin Szold, who was the spiritual leader of Baltimore's Temple Oheb Shalom. [ [http://www.templeohebshalom.org/history.htm Temple Oheb Shalom ] ] She was the eldest of eight daughters. In l877, 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 and the Peabody Institute. [http://www.hagshama.org.il/en/resources/view.asp?id=1364 Henrietta Szold (1860-1945) ] ]

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 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, an organization that rescued some 22,000 Jewish children from Nazi Europe.

Szold died in Jerusalem on February 13, 1945. She had no children.

Zionism and origins of Hadassah

In 1896, one month before Theodor Herzl published his magnum opus, Der Judenstaat, Szold described her vision of a Jewish state in Palestine as a place to ingather Diaspora Jewry and revive Jewish culture. In 1898, the Federation of American Zionists elected Szold as the only female member of its executive committee. During World War I, 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 (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.

Mourners' Kaddish

Henrietta Szold was the oldest of eight daughters, and had no brothers. In Orthodox Judaism, it was not the norm for women to recite the Mourners' Kaddish. 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 written by Rabbi David Golinkin. This responsa, adopted unanimously by the Committee on Jewish Law and Standards of Conservative Judaism, permits women to recite the Mourners' Kaddish in public when a minyan is present. [ http://www.responsafortoday.com "Responsa in a Moment: Halakhic Responses to Contemporary Issues] , Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies]


Kibbutz Kfar Szold, in Upper Galilee is named after her. The Palmach, in recognition of her commitment to "Aliyat Hanoar" Youth Aliyah, named the illegal immigration (Ha'apalah) ship "Henrietta Szold" after her. The ship, carrying immigrants from the Kiffisia orphanage in Athens, 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. [http://www.palmach.org.il/show_item.asp?levelId=42858&itemId=8643&itemType=0 Ha'apalah Ship Henrietta Szold, Palmach Information Center] ]

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. [ [http://www.szold.org.il/content/aboutus/aboutus.asp?cat=3 Henrietta Szold ] ]

In 2007, Szold was inducted into the American National Women's Hall of Fame. "Dateline World Jewry", April 2007, World Jewish Congress]

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


External links

* [http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/biography/Szold.html Henrietta Szold Biography at Jewish Virtual Library]
* [http://www.jwa.org/exhibits/wov/szold/index.html Women of Valor exhibit on Henrietta Szold] at the [http://www.jwa.org Jewish Women's Archive]

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  • Henrietta Szold — (* 21. Dezember 1860 in Baltimore; † 13. Februar 1945 in Jerusalem) war eine bedeutende Aktivistin des frühen Zionismus. Sie war Erzieherin, Autorin, Sozialarbeiterin und 1912 Gründerin der amerikanischen zionistischen Frauenorganisation Hadassah …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Henrietta Szold — (1860 1945), American zionist, founder of Hadassah , head of the Youth Aliyah Movement …   English contemporary dictionary

  • SZOLD, HENRIETTA — (1860–1945), founder of hadassah , the Women s Zionist Organization of America, and organizational leader and political figure in Palestine. Szold was born in Baltimore, Maryland. Her parents, Sophie (Schaar) and Rabbi Benjamin Szold, had arrived …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • Szold — ist der Familienname folgender Personen: Benjamin Szold (1829–1902), ungarisch amerikanischer Rabbiner, Vater von Henrietta Szold Henrietta Szold (1860–1945), Aktivistin des frühen Zionismus Szold ist der Name folgender Orte: Kfar Szold, Kibbuz …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • SZOLD, ROBERT — (1889–1977), U.S. lawyer and Zionist. Szold, who was born in Streator, Illinois, graduated from Knox College in Illinois (1909). He served as assistant attorney general in Puerto Rico (1915) and assistant to U.S. Solicitor General John W. Davis… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • SZOLD, BENJAMIN — (1829–1902), U.S. rabbi and scholar. Szold was born in Nemiskert, Hungary, where his family owned land. Although they were the only Jews in town, he received an excellent Jewish education from the rabbis in the area. At the age of 16, or 14… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • Szold — may refer to:* Henrietta Szold, founder of the Hadassah Women s Organization * Kfar Szold, a kibbutz in Israel * Benjamin Szold, an American rabbi …   Wikipedia

  • Szold, Henrietta — (1860–1945)    Founder of Hadassah and Head of Youth Aliyah. Daughter of a Baltimore rabbi, Henrietta Szold was given a sound Jewish and Hebrew education. She worked for many years as literary editor of the Jewish Publication Society of America,… …   Who’s Who in Jewish History after the period of the Old Testament

  • Szold — n. family name; Henrietta Szold (1860 1945), American zionist, founder of Hadassah , head of the Youth Aliyah Movement …   English contemporary dictionary

  • Szold,Henrietta — Szold (zōld), Henrietta. 1860 1945. American Zionist leader who was a founder of Hadassah (1912), the Women s Zionist Organization of America. * * * …   Universalium