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Emma Leon Gottheil

As a translator, Emma Leon Gottheil helped spread the ideals of Zionism across America, but as founder of the Women’s League for Palestine, she helped turn those ideals into practical reality. Gottheil studied in Paris from the age of twelve, becoming fluent in several languages. In 1891 she immigrated to New York, where she lectured on French literature at Columbia and worked as a translator while volunteering for the National Council of Jewish Women and other Jewish women’s organizations. She served as an official delegate of the Federation of American Zionists at the Second Zionist Congress in 1898, where she translated Theodore Herzl’s words into English, French, and Italian. She later became a staunch supporter of Henrietta Szold and a founding member of Hadassah while continuing her work with the Federation of American Zionists. When the American Zionists suffered ideological splintering in 1921, Gottheil formed the Keren Hayesod Women’s League, later called the Women’s League for Palestine. The League provided shelter and support for single women pioneers immigrating to Palestine, and later for women refugees fleeing Europe. In 1940, the French government awarded her the Cross of the Legion of Honor for her dedication to Franco-American Friendship.

Gottheil, Emma - still image [media]
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Although she rejected the idea of the first Zionist Congress, the brilliant and multilingual Emma Leon Gottheil had a change of heart and became instrumental in the founding of Hadassah.

Institution: American Jewish Historical Society

Date of Birth
1862
Place of Birth
Beirut
Date of Death
June 11, 1947

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Emma Leon Gottheil." (Viewed on November 27, 2014) <http://jwa.org/people/gottheil-emma>.

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