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Summoned to Jerusalem

The Life of Henrietta Szold

by Joan Dash

Imprint: Wipf and Stock

368 Pages, 6.25 x 9.13 x 17.00 in

  • Paperback
  • 9781592443055
  • Published: August 2003

$37.00 / £28.00 / AU$51.00


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'February 1943: a crowded railway station in Haifa, Palestine. Crowds of people wait for a train to pull in. Through a winter of anguish the Jews of Palestine have longed for this train. It arrives and from the open windows hundreds of little hands wave blue-and-white flags. The train is packed with Jewish children who have been traveling war-ravaged Europe since the fall of Poland in 1939. Palestine is their journey's end. In front of the crowd is an official delegation, headed by an old woman not quite five feet tall. She is Henrietta Szold, and these children, the final contingent of ten thousand children, were saved from the Nazis and brought to Palestine because of her.' One could not have predicted from the beginnings of her comfortable, dependent life as the oldest daughter of a Baltimore rabbi the extraordinary accomplishments of Henreitta Szold. Even as she reached middle age, she was the dutiful studious partner of her father's scholarly researches, although she had behind her impressive accomplishments, such as the establishment of a pioneering night school for Russian Jewish immigrants. But each time she ventured, she retreated. It took two grave emotional crises to bring her into her own -- the death of her father, and the more astonishing public emotional collapse that ensued after her intense love for a scholar thirteen years her junior ended when he took a young German bride. Out of the ashes of this second bereavement emerged the Henrietta Szold who was to imprint her formidable accomplishments on American Jewry and the land of Palestine. That barren land, the needs of its population, and the courage of its pioneers shaped the course of her future, while back home in New York the small study group she had established, and which was called Hadassah, grew into the women's arm of the American Zionist movement. Zionism was full of factionalism, and the history of Palestine was bloody and divisive. It was Henrietta Szold's initiative and drive that established its health care system, shaped education, and began the social services that prevail today. In the 1930s a new mission emerged: the rescue from the Nazis of thousands of Jewish children who would otherwise have been lost. This Youth Aliyah was her last triumph. She was eighty-three when her indomitable body wearied at last, and she lies buried on the Mount of Olives, in the land she played so large a part in shaping.

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