Women of Valor


Building the "Yishuv"

Henrietta Szold, 1860 - 1945

Szold eventually separated herself from active work in Hadassah medical endeavors. In its place, she accepted a number of leadership roles within international Zionism, through which she helped to shape the malleable Jewish infrastructure in Palestine that would, after the U.N. partition vote of 1948, be transformed into the State of Israel. Although Szold often felt slighted by the international and American male Zionist leadership, her independence from the various contentious movement factions, her growing symbolic role as a Zionist icon, and her ability to get things done resulted in her election to a series of influential roles within Palestine's Jewish community (referred to as the Yishuv).

In 1927 she was selected as one member of a three-person Zionist executive committee to look after Jewish communal life in Palestine. Szold brought her customary vigor and thoroughness to the effort to create systematic frameworks for the provision of medical and educational services throughout Palestine. Beginning in 1931, as an elected representative of the Yishuv's Vaad Leumi (National Council), she took on responsibility for creating from scratch the basis of a national system of social work.

Szold hoped for a future for Palestine that could encompass both Arabs and Jews, and affiliated herself with B'rit Shalom (Covenant of Peace), a group led by her friend Judah Magnes that called for the creation of a bi-national state. This kind of position brought her much criticism from within Zionist circles including Hadassah. At the same time, Szold anguished over periodic violent uprisings by Arab Palestinians that targeted Jewish settlers and tested her pacifist inclinations.

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Women of Valor - Henrietta Szold - Building the "Yishuv"." (Viewed on April 21, 2014) <http://jwa.org/womenofvalor/szold/building-yishuv>.