Henrietta Szold & Hadassah
By Mel Wacks
Henrietta Szold was born in Baltimore, Maryland in 1860, a little more than a year after her parents arrived from Hungary. Her father, a prominent rabbi, gave Henrietta the attention and education usually reserved for an eldest son. She learned German, English, French and Hebrew. Her high school academic record has never been surpassed. In 1899, she took on the lion's share of producing the first American Jewish Year Book, for which Szold was the sole editor from 1904 to 1908.
Henrietta Szold medal by Gerta Ries Wiener,
issued by the Jewish-American Hall of Fame in 1976, portrays her early career
as a writer and editor, and later as head of Youth Aliyah.
In 1909, Ms.
Szold first visited Palestine. During her tour she was impressed both by the
beauty of the land and the misery and disease among the people. And so, with
the support of Rabbi Judah L. Magnes, she formed Hadassah in 1912. Within a
year, the fledgling organization had two American nurses in Jerusalem. Today,
Hadassah's great hospitals in Jerusalem are world famous, treating over 25,000
patients and handling over 1.5 million medical tests annually ... Jews and
Arabs alike. The Henrietta Szold-Hadassah School of Nursing has trained over
1,500 nurses, and the Hebrew University-Hadassah Medical School has graduated
more than 1,300 doctors.
On June 19, 1914 Hadassah
held the first national convention in Rochester, New York where it officially
adopted the name Hadassah and its purpose "…to promote Jewish institutions
and enterprises in Palestine and to foster Zionist ideals in America."
Hadassah had already chosen a motto, suggested by Israel Friedlander, from Jer.
8:19-23, Aruchat Bat Ami, translated as "The Healing of the
Daughter of My People," and a seal, designed by Victor Brenner (who had
designed the Lincoln Cent 5 years earlier), of myrtle branches around a Jewish
In 1933, at
the age of 73, Szold embarked on a major new project ... rescuing Jewish
children from the oncoming Holocaust. Despite obstacles in dealing with the
British Mandate government in Palestine, by 1948 her Youth Aliyah program
brought 30,000 children from troubled Europe to Palestine. Even at the age of
81, Henrietta Szold accepted a new challenge ... planning the Fund for Child
and Youth Care.
Hadassah's third of a million members and 1,350 chapters around the world make
it one of the largest philanthropic organizations and a living tribute to the
hard work and vision of its founder, Henrietta Szold.
honoring Henrietta Szold and Hadassah have been issued over the years by
Israel. First was a 1960 (5721) 1 lira Chanukah coin, issued on the occasion
of the 100th anniversary of the birth of Henrietta Szold. The
obverse features the Hadassah Medical Center in Ein Kerem, Jerusalem; the
reverse pictures a shepherdess holding a newborn lamb, symbolizing the rescue
of child survivors of the Holocaust by the Youth Aliyah program.
reverse design features the name of Henrietta Szold in Hebrew; below is the
year of her birth and the year of the issue and "Haddassah - Youth
Aliyah" in Hebrew. Obverse designs by Rothschild and Lippman,
reverse by Jacob Zim .
State Medal was also issued in 1960, commemorating the dedication of the new
Hadassah Medical Centre. About a month before the Declaration of
Independence on the 13th April, 1 948, a convoy making its way to Mount Scopus
was attacked as it crossed the Sheik Jerach quarters in East Jerusalem and 78
people in the convoy were brutally murdered. It became obvious that the
Hadassah Hospital on Mount Scopus was not safe and the medical staff decided to
abandon it and establish themselves in rented quarters in the western part of
the city. Hadassah immediately mounted a fund raising effort to establish a new
medical centre at Ein Kerem. In August 1960, the new, spacious and well
equipped medical centre on a hill overlooking Beit Hakerem, was inaugurated in
State medals, designed by Miriam Karoli, were
issued by the Israel Government Coins and Medals Corporation in bronze, tombac
State Medal was issued in 1975, commemorating a new Hadassah hospital building
on Mount Scopus. The Hadassah University Hospital on Mount Scopus was dedicated
in 1939 and rapidly acquired a reputation for being the best equipped in the
Middle East. With the increasing attacks on the Jewish community, intending to
frustrate the establishment of a Jewish State, access to Mount Scopus became
more and more dangerous. On May 8, 1948, it became necessary to evacuate the
last of the medical staff from Mount Scopus. Soldiers of "Haganah"
were left behind to maintain Jewish sovereignty and to guard the installation.
Jerusalem was reunited on June 8, 1967, after the Six Day War. Hadassah leaders
raised their ensign on Mount Scopus and declared: “This is the banner of a war
against ignorance, disease - the banner of Peace. On raising it we hereby vow -
this hospital shall come back to life again.”
obverse features the new hospital building on Mount Scopus. In the center above
the entrance, the three domes memorialize the old building. The inscription
reads: "Greater the latter glory than the former" (Hagai 2:9) in
Hebrew and English. Medals were issued in bronze and silver. Designed by the
The Hadassah Convention held in
Jerusalem in 1978 inspired a 1 9/16” Israel State Medal that was presented to
all participants by the City of Jerusalem. The design features the sculpture "Tree of Life" by Jacques
Lipshitz which was erected on Mt. Scopus in the same year.
State Medals marked the jubilee (50th anniversary) of Youth Aliyah
in 1983/4. Youth
Aliyah activities began in 1933 in Germany, when Recha Freier devoted herself
to saving Jewish children from the hands of the Nazis. In 1934, the first group
of children was welcomed to Israel by Henrietta Szold and sent to Kibbutz Ein
Harod. Since then, over 200,000 children from all over the world have received
their education in Youth Aliyah institutions. Today,18,000 children study in
kibbutzim, youth villages, boarding schools and centers for youth - among
these, some 2,000 new immigrants, and youngsters are spending a year of their
high school studies in Israel.
medal’s obverse features the emblem of the Jubilee, combined with Youth
Aliyah's regular logo--a sawed off tree-trunk from which a new branch
sprouts, symbolizing renewed growth. On the reverse, a boy and a girl
are reading a book; the verse: "Start a child on the right road"
(Proverbs 22) appears in Hebrew and English. Designed by Izzy Kahana.