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Biography - Henrietta Szold

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Biography - Henrietta Szold

Henrietta Szold (Born December 21, 1860; Died February 13, 1945)  was an American Jewish scholar and Zionist leader. She was born in Baltimore, Maryland. She was given special permission to study in the Jewish Theological Seminary, taught school for many years and worked for the Jewish Publication Society for over twenty years.  She translated Heinrich Graetz's monumental History of the Jews from German into English.

In 1909 she visited Palestine and became a committed Zionist. In 1912 she founded  Hadassah, the Women's organization, serving as its president until 1926. The Hadassah organization created the Hadassah hospital, serving Arabs and Jews, perhaps the largest and most modern medical center in the Middle East.

Szold was approached by Manya Shochat and Rahel Yanait to get a letter of introduction that would enable them to obtain funds for the clandestine Haganah.  Although Szold sympathized with the defense needs of the labor settlements--she even wrote a letter of introduction for Shohat which was subsequently retracted--she was reluctant to sponsor Shohat's clandestine activities. As president of Hadassah, Szold explained, she had a moral obligation not to engage in illegal activities that could jeopardize the American organization's credibility. Szold also was an ardent believer in fostering good relations with the Arabs of Palestine, and insisted that Zionists should have paid more attention to this problem in time.

 In 1933, working with Hadassah in Palestine, she initiated and ran the Youth Aliyah (Aliyat Hanoar) which rescued some 22,000 Jewish children from Nazi Europe. Szold lived the rest of her life in Palestine and died in Jerusalem on February 13, 1945.

More Israeli and Zionist Biographies   The Encyclopedia and Dictionary of Zionism and Israel

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