Women of Valor

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Life in Palestine

Henrietta Szold, 1860 - 1945

Arriving in Palestine in 1920 at age 59, Szold would spend most of the final twenty-five years of her life in Palestine. Her return visits to the United States, including a stay that lasted from 1923 through 1926, were often precipitated by the ill-health of her sisters. Much of the isolation that she felt in Palestine grew from her separation from and worry about them. She did however find meaningful community among her Hadassah co-workers and in her work in Palestine.

From 1920-23, Szold lived in a private home with a younger colleague, social worker Sophie Berger, who took on the responsibilities of housekeeping so that Szold might pursue her active public life. With Berger, Szold took part in a American Zionist social circle that included educator Alex Dushkin and poet Jessie Sampter. Their gatherings included Sabbath worship, afternoon teas, and occasional picnics.

When Szold returned to Palestine in 1927, she took up residence in hotel rooms that eventually acquired some of the accoutrements of home and where she often received visitors. Szold maintained her prodigious work habits throughout her life. As many of her dearest friends and family members passed away, however, her sense of isolation increased, even when she was surrounded by others.

Although Szold felt that her duty lay in Palestine, she always considered the United States her home. Frequent visits and an enduring strong connection to her family remained vital to her ability to maintain her role as a very public figure.

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Women of Valor - Henrietta Szold - Life in Palestine." (Viewed on April 18, 2014) <http://jwa.org/womenofvalor/szold/life-in-palestine>.