The Founder of Hadassah Invigorated American Zionism and Brought Thousands of Jewish Children to the Land of Israel

Sept. 14 2021

Born in 1860 to a rabbinic family that had left its native Hungary and settled in Baltimore, Henrietta Szold is best known today as the founder of the women’s Zionist organization Hadassah. She was also a pioneering journalist, accomplished editor and translator, and one of the leading Jewish philanthropists of both the U.S. and the Land of Israel. Reviewing Dvora Hacohen’s biography of Szold, recently translated from Hebrew into English, Jenna Weissman Joselit describes its subject as an “avid Zionist at a time when committed American Zionists were few and far between,” and credits Hadassah with “transform[ing] Zionism from a cause into a calling.”

Szold’s adaptability, her nimble genius, might well be credited to her having had an early start. She began her professional career at the age of seventeen while a cub reporter for the Jewish Messenger, a New York weekly. Going by the name of Sulamith, she happened to be on the scene and at the table in July 1883 when the drama of the “Trefa Banquet” unfolded in Cincinnati. “There was no regard paid to our dietary laws,” the kosher-keeping eyewitness related of the celebratory communal dinner marking the graduation of the very first class of Reform rabbis in the United States. Worse still, when she and several of her tablemates refrained from eating the forbidden bill of fare, awash in seafood, “We were . . . stared at as if we were mummies or fossil remains.”

By 1920, when Szold relocated to Mandatory Palestine, she had numerous accomplishments under her belt, but was about to begin the most impressive part of her career:

At the age when most of us are just about to fold our tents, Szold pitched hers—and in the Holy Land, no less. With a seemingly inexhaustible supply of energy that belied her years, she gave her all—and then some—to improving the well-being of the Yishuv’s residents in the years following the Great War. Forming the “American Daughters of Zion, Nurses Settlement” in Jerusalem, a neighborhood clinic that took its cue from the Henry Street Settlement in New York, and establishing the Hadassah Medical Organization, replete with a nursing school, ambulances, and the latest technology, including X-ray machines, she did battle with the many diseases and ineffectual Old World remedies that afflicted the local population.

Szold also served on the Yishuv’s Jewish National Council, where she juggled the demanding education and health portfolios. And then, in what would turn out to be the apex of her career, she created the Youth Aliyah organization in response to the worsening crisis in Europe, rescuing thousands of Jewish children, many of them soon to be orphans, by resettling them in specially designed settlements.

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Read more at Jewish Review of Books

More about: Aliyah, American Jewish History, Hadassah, History of Zionism, Holocaust rescue

 

Is the Attempt on Salman Rushdie’s Life Part of a Broader Iranian Strategy?

Aug. 18 2022

While there is not yet any definitive evidence that Hadi Matar, the man who repeatedly stabbed the novelist Salman Rushdie at a public talk last week, was acting on direct orders from Iranian authorities, he has made clear that he was inspired by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s call for Rushdie’s murder, and his social-media accounts express admiration for the Islamic Republic. The attack also follows on the heels of other Iranian attempts on the lives of Americans, including the dissident activist Masih Alinejad, the former national security advisor John Bolton, and the former secretary of state Mike Pompeo. Kylie Moore-Gilbert, who was held hostage by the mullahs for over two years, sees a deliberate effort at play:

It is no coincidence this flurry of Iranian activity comes at a crucial moment for the hitherto-moribund [nuclear] negotiations. Iranian hardliners have long opposed reviving the 2015 deal, and the Iranians have made a series of unrealistic and seemingly ever-shifting demands which has led many to conclude that they are not negotiating in good faith. Among these is requiring the U.S. to delist the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps in its entirety from the State Department’s list of terror organizations.

The Biden administration and its European partners’ willingness to make concessions are viewed in Tehran as signals of weakness. The lack of a firm response in the shocking attack on Salman Rushdie will similarly indicate to Tehran that there is little to be lost and much to be gained in pursuing dissidents like Alinejad or so-called blasphemers like Sir Salman on U.S. soil.

If we don’t stand up for our values when under attack we can hardly blame our adversaries for assuming that we have none. Likewise, if we don’t erect and maintain firm red lines in negotiations our adversaries will perhaps also assume that we have none.

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Read more at iNews

More about: Iran, Terrorism, U.S. Foreign policy