Monday, December 7, 2009

39. The Self Empowered Woman/Hadassah

Dear Followers,

On Friday I had the privilege of talking about The Self-Empowered Woman to the Hatikvah Hadassah in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. One of the members took the opportunity to tell me about the amazing (truly Self-Empowered) woman who founded the Hadassah Women's Organization in the U.S., and I thought I'd share her story with you.

Henrietta Szold was born in Baltimore, Maryland on December 21st, 1860. Her father was a rabbi, and she was the eldest of eight daughters. After she graduated from Western Female High School, she taught at Miss Adam's School, Oheb Shalom Religious School and gave bible and history classes for adult students. She established the first American night school to provide vocational training and English classes for Russian Jewish immigrants in Baltimore.

Szold attended public lectures at both the Peabody Institute and John Hopkins University to further her own education. In 1898, the Federation of American Zionists elected her as the only female member of the executive committee and from 1893 to 1913, she worked for the Jewish Publication Society. In 1909 (when she was 49 years old) she made her first trip to Palestine where she was inspired to improve the health, welfare and education of the Yishuv (pre-state Jewish community of Palestine).

With six other women she founded Hadassah in 1912, and served as its president until 1926. In 1933, she moved to Palestine and helped run Youth Aliyah, an organization that rescued 22,000 Jewish children from Nazi Europe.

A true Self-Empowered Woman, among Szold's honors are that:

  • Mother's Day in Israel is celebrated on the day she died, February 13 (the 30th of Shevat).

  • In 2007, she was inducted into the American National Women's Hall of Fame.

  • P.S. 134 in Manhattan's Lower East Side is named after her.

  • Kibbutz Kfar Szold in Upper Galilee is named after her.

  • Jerusalem's National Institute for Research in the Behavioral Sciences (The Henrietta Szold Institute) is named after her.

Looking forward to your comments...

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