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Jewesses with Attitude

Henrietta Szold and Emma Goldman: Star-crossed "Women of Valor"

December 21st is the winter solstice and this year it was also the date of a lunar eclipse. December 21st, however, is also a big day for two important "stars": Henrietta Szold and Emma Goldman, two very important women in JWA's online Women of Valor exhibit.

Today is pioneering Zionist, Henrietta Szold's birthday!  On December 21, 1935, Zionists all over the world celebrated her 75th birthday. Thos in the US enjoyed a national radio address by the President of Hadassah, Rose Jacobs, and by the President of the World Zionist Organization, Chaim Weizmann. The official Hadassah celebration of its founder's 75th birthday occurred in New York on December 22, with an event attended by over 1,000 women at Temple Emanu-El in New York. Though she was not able to be there for the event, she was praised by Rabbi Stephen S. Wise, the nation’s most prominent rabbi at the time. He called Szold a "semi-mythical figure beyond criticism, beyond detraction, beyond envy, beyond blame, and, because of her humility, beyond our praise. She is Judaism's Jane Addams—a transcendent spirit who touched the lowly only to lift them up."

December 21st is also the anniversary of the date that radical anarchist Emma Goldman was deported to the USSR under the 1918 Alien Act. Goldman was not a pacifist but she actively opposed U.S. involvement in World War I, arguing that the war was an imperialist venture that aided capitalists at the expense of workers. When the U.S. entered the war in 1917, her anti-draft activism was considered a threat to national security. Goldman spent 18 months in federal prison, and upon release was immediately re-arrested. J. Edgar Hoover, then director of the Justice Department's General Intelligence Division, persuaded the courts to deny Goldman's citizenship claims and was responsible for her deportation as a "radical alien."

How odd is it that Emma Goldman was deported on Henrietta Szold's 58th birthday? 

It seems fitting to revisit Emma Goldman's and Henrietta Szold's "Google Search Stories" on this very significant day. 

Goldman, Emma 2 - still image [media]
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Emma Goldman's controversial views led to numerous arrests. This mugshot was taken when she was wrongly implicated in the assassination of President William McKinley in 1901.

Institution: The Emma Goldman Papers, University of California, Berkeley, and the U.S. Library of Congress

Szold, Henrietta 1 - still image [media]
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What was perhaps most astonishing about Henrietta Szold was the breadth of her activities. Teacher, translator, essayist, organizer, politician, administrator and humanist, she will always be remembered for founding Hadassah, the largest women's, and largest Jewish, volunteer organization in America.

Institution: Jewish Theological Seminary of America

How to cite this page

Berkenwald, Leah. "Henrietta Szold and Emma Goldman: Star-crossed "Women of Valor"." 21 December 2010. Jewish Women's Archive. (Viewed on March 28, 2015) <>.


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