Henrietta Szold: The Great Zionist and Philanthropist Who Founded Hadassah

First published in Hebrew in 2019, the Israeli historian Dvora Hacohen’s biography of Henrietta Szold has recently appeared in English—with an introduction by the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Szold is best known for founding Hadassah (the women’s Zionist organization of America), as well as the Jerusalem hospital of the same name. Amy Spiro writes in her review:

Szold was born in Baltimore in 1860, shortly before the outbreak of the Civil War. From a young age she pursued educational and professional paths that were normally closed off to women. She became the first-ever female editor at the Jewish Publication Society, the first woman enrolled at the Jewish Theological Seminary (though she had to promise to not seek ordination), and the only female member of the Federation of American Zionists’ executive committee. She died in 1945 in Jerusalem at age eighty-four, “a life bounded by two wars,” wrote Hacohen.

Later, Szold also became a passionate and outspoken Zionist. . . . In 1933, at age seventy-three, Szold relocated to Jerusalem and became an active driving force behind Youth Aliyah, the organization that rescued 30,000 Jewish children from Nazi Europe. Though Szold never married or had children of her own—to her great regret—she became known as such a maternal figure in Israel that the country’s Mother’s Day is marked on the anniversary of her death, “because she was called the mother of Youth Aliyah.”

“Today Hadassah is one of the largest Jewish organizations in the world, with hundreds of thousands of members,” noted Hacohen. Szold was “an ardent Zionist,” who first visited Palestine in 1909. The poverty and disease she saw during that trip spurred her to dedicate the rest of her life to the welfare and health of the Jews living there, through extensive health clinics, medical training schools, soup kitchens, educational institutions, and much more.

Read more at Jewish Insider

More about: American Jewish History, Hadassah, History of Zionism, Holocaust rescue, Ruth Bader Ginsburg


When It Comes to Peace with Israel, Many Saudis Have Religious Concerns

Sept. 22 2023

While roughly a third of Saudis are willing to cooperate with the Jewish state in matters of technology and commerce, far fewer are willing to allow Israeli teams to compete within the kingdom—let alone support diplomatic normalization. These are just a few results of a recent, detailed, and professional opinion survey—a rarity in Saudi Arabia—that has much bearing on current negotiations involving Washington, Jerusalem, and Riyadh. David Pollock notes some others:

When asked about possible factors “in considering whether or not Saudi Arabia should establish official relations with Israel,” the Saudi public opts first for an Islamic—rather than a specifically Saudi—agenda: almost half (46 percent) say it would be “important” to obtain “new Israeli guarantees of Muslim rights at al-Aqsa Mosque and al-Haram al-Sharif [i.e., the Temple Mount] in Jerusalem.” Prioritizing this issue is significantly more popular than any other option offered. . . .

This popular focus on religion is in line with responses to other controversial questions in the survey. Exactly the same percentage, for example, feel “strongly” that “our country should cut off all relations with any other country where anybody hurts the Quran.”

By comparison, Palestinian aspirations come in second place in Saudi popular perceptions of a deal with Israel. Thirty-six percent of the Saudi public say it would be “important” to obtain “new steps toward political rights and better economic opportunities for the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.” Far behind these drivers in popular attitudes, surprisingly, are hypothetical American contributions to a Saudi-Israel deal—even though these have reportedly been under heavy discussion at the official level in recent months.

Therefore, based on this analysis of these new survey findings, all three governments involved in a possible trilateral U.S.-Saudi-Israel deal would be well advised to pay at least as much attention to its religious dimension as to its political, security, and economic ones.

Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Islam, Israel-Arab relations, Saudi Arabia, Temple Mount