Henrietta Szold, 1860 - 1945
Szold's work on Youth Aliyah continued to absorb her energies into her 84th year. When she fell ill in July 1943, she took up residence in the residential quarters of the Henrietta Szold Nursing School at Hadassah Hospital. Judah Magnes sent daily updates to American Hadassah members on her weakening condition as well as on her continuing interest in news of her family, Youth Aliyah, and Hadassah. When she died, thousands attended her funeral, and a boy from one of the last European transports of Youth Aliyah read Kaddish.
Henrietta Szold's greatest legacy is Hadassah, the Women's Zionist Organization of America, which continues to engage the energies of Jewish women around the world while supporting the latest medical care at Hadassah Hospital, the Henrietta Szold School of Nursing, and myriad other medical and educational efforts in Israel.
But even beyond the enduring contributions of Hadassah, Henrietta Szold's life and career proved both a model and a catalyst for transforming and redefining possibilies for women in Jewish communal life.
In her life and career, Henrietta Szold posed questions and faced challenges that Jewish women in North America and around the world continue to explore. Szold spent little time fighting for women's rights or pleading women's grievances. Yet in following what seemed, to her, her duty, she proved the power of women's activism. When she finally realized that she could never give full expression to her energies if she stayed within the sphere allowed her within male-led Jewish organizations, she founded one of her own. And the members of Hadassah took up the challenge raised and modeled by Henrietta Szold, showing that women could indeed change the Jewish world.