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Speech Given by Henrietta Szold at Hadassah Convention, 1937

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Level: High School and above

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More of this TYPE: Speeches

More of this TIME PERIOD: 1900-1949

More on these TOPICS: Israel & Zionism, Jewish Values & Practices, Law & Politics


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Henrietta Szold was an extraordinary woman. Among her many accomplishments was the founding of Hadassah, the Jewish women’s Zionist organization, in 1912.

At the end of World War I, Palestine came under British control. The Balfour Declaration of 1917, however, held out the promise of a Jewish state. While international negotiations would determine the area’s fate, people like Szold shaped its daily life. Szold spent most of the last 25 years of her life in Palestine, overseeing numerous health, educational, and social service institutions that would become an integral part of the State of Israel after its creation in 1948. As the 1930s progressed and the Nazi threat grew, she became increasingly involved in international Zionism. She was instrumental in the Youth Aliyah program that arranged for European Jewish youth to immigrate to Palestine.

Szold’s vision was of a Palestine that could encompass both Arabs and Jews, and she affiliated herself with Brit Shalom (A Covenant of Peace), a group that called for the creation of a bi-national state. Her controversial stance generated charges of disloyalty from Zionist groups, including Hadassah. In this moving speech to a largely American audience, Szold acknowledges both the problems and the promises of the creation of a Jewish state.

For more on the life and work of Henrietta Szold, go to JWA’s Women of Valor exhibit.

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1. How does this 1937 speech anticipate the problems Israel has had with its Arab residents and neighbors since 1948?

2. How does Szold incorporate democracy and Judaism into her vision for the future of Palestine?

3. What does Szold mean by the phrase “ethical implications,” which appears at the end of the first paragraph?

4. For Szold, what is the connection between the ideals of Zionism and one’s daily life in Palestine?

5. According to Szold, how have Jewish efforts in Palestine, up to this point, established the foundation for the future state?

6. Szold died before the creation of the modern state of Israel. How might she have viewed its current circumstances?

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Jewish Women's Archive. "JWA - Speeches - Speech Given at Hadassah Convention." <>.