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Abravanel, Don Isaac
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Medal by Gerta Ries Wiener (1976), Henrietta Szold, Founder of Hadassah.

Henrietta Szold (1860-1945)

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.

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.

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 Aliya 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.

Today, 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.

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