Henrietta Szold was a feminist and Zionist who is best remembered as the founder of Hadassah Women's Organization.

 

Szold was born in 1860 to a family of eight children in Baltimore, Maryland.  After completing her own high school education, she accepted a teaching position at a nearby parochial school while also organizing English language instruction for Jewish immigrants. 

 

Drawn to the Zionist cause from her earliest years, Szold had described her vision of a Jewish homeland even before Theodor Herzl's “Der Judenstaat,” an important manifesto calling for a Jewish homeland, was published in 1896.  Later, a trip to Palestine in 1909 solidified her aims, and inspired her to start the Hadassah Women’s Organization in 1912.

 

Initially, Hadassah's primary goal was to improve medical care in Palestine while promoting Zionist ideals and women's right to vote.  Within a few years, Hadassah chapters had opened throughout the U.S. in cities such as Cleveland, Chicago, and Boston.  Today, Hadassah is involved in numerous philanthropic causes throughout the world, but continues to focus on medical care and education.

 

Henrietta Szold eventually emigrated to Palestine in 1933, and died there in 1945.