Henrietta Chaya Szold, founder of "Hadassa"

Is your surname Szold?

Research the Szold family

Henrietta Chaya Szold, founder of "Hadassa"'s Geni Profile

Share your family tree and photos with the people you know and love

  • Build your family tree online
  • Share photos and videos
  • Smart Matching™ technology
  • Free!


Henrietta Chaya Szold, founder of "Hadassa"

Hebrew: חייה Szold, הנרייטה סולד
Birthdate: (84)
Birthplace: Baltimore, Maryland, United States
Death: February 13, 1945 (84)
Jerusalem, Israel
Place of Burial: Mount of Olives Cemetery Jerusalem Yerushalayim (Jerusalem District), Israel
Immediate Family:

Daughter of Rabbi Benjamin Szold and Sophia Szold (Schaar)
Ex-wife of Henry Sylvester
Sister of Estella Szold; Rebecca Szold; Rachel Jastrow; Sadie Szold; Johanna Szold and 2 others

Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:
view all

Immediate Family

About Henrietta Chaya Szold, founder of "Hadassa"

הנרִיֶיטה סֹאלְד

Henrietta Szold, daughter of Rabbi Benjamin Szold a scholar originally from Nyitra, Hungary, was a translator, editor, philanthropist, educator, Zionist leader and the founder of Hadassah and Youth Aliyah.

In 1896, one month before Theodor Herzl published his magnum opus, Der Judenstaat, Szold described her vision of a Jewish state in Palestine as a place to ingather Diaspora Jewry and revive Jewish culture. Her commitment to Zionism was heightened by a trip to Palestine in 1909. She founded Hadassah in 1912 and served as its president until 1926. In 1933 she immigrated to Palestine and helped run Youth Aliyah, an organization that rescued some 22,000 Jewish children from Nazi Europe.

Henrietta Szold was born in Baltimore, Maryland, the daughter of a Rabbi Benjamin Szold, who was the spiritual leader of Baltimore's Temple Oheb Shalom. She was the eldest of eight daughters. In 1877, she graduated from Western Female High School. For fifteen years, she taught at Miss Adam’s School and Oheb Shalom religious school, and gave Bible and history courses for adults. To further her own education, she attended public lectures at Johns Hopkins University and the Peabody Institute.

Szold established the first American night school to provide English language instruction and vocational skills to Russian Jewish immigrants in Baltimore. Beginning in 1893, she worked for the Jewish Publication Society, a position she maintained for over two decades.

Szold died in Jerusalem on February 13, 1945. She had no children.

Zionism and origins of Hadassah

In 1898, the Federation of American Zionists elected Szold as the only female member of its executive committee. During World War I, she was the only woman on the Provisional Executive Committee for General Zionist Affairs.

In 1909, at age 49, Szold traveled to Palestine for the first time and discovered her life's mission: the health, education and welfare of the Yishuv (pre-state Jewish community of Palestine). Szold joined six other women to found Hadassah, which recruited American Jewish women to upgrade health care in Palestine. Hadassah's first project was the inauguration of an American-style visiting nurse program in Jerusalem. Hadassah funded hospitals, a medical school, dental facilities, x-ray clinics, infant welfare stations, soup kitchens and other services for Palestine's Jewish and Arab inhabitants. Szold persuaded her colleagues that practical programs open to all were critical to Jewish survival in the Holy Land.

Mourners' Kaddish

Henrietta Szold was the oldest of eight daughters, and had no brothers. In Orthodox Judaism, it was not the norm for women to recite the Mourners' Kaddish. In 1916, Szold's mother died, and a friend, Hayim Peretz, offered to say kaddish for her. In a letter, she thanked Peretz for his concern, but said she would do it herself.

I know well, and appreciate what you say about the Jewish custom; and Jewish custom is very dear and sacred to me. And yet I cannot ask you to say Kaddish after my mother. The Kaddish means to me that the survivor publicly and markedly manifests his wish and intention to assume the relation to the Jewish community, which his parent had, and that so the chain of tradition remains unbroken from generation to generation, each adding its own link. You can do that for the generations of your family, I must do that for the generations of my family.

Szold's answer to Peretz is cited by "Women and the Mourners' Kaddish," a responsum written by Rabbi David Golinkin. This responsa, adopted unanimously by the Committee on Jewish Law and Standards of Conservative Judaism, permits women to recite the Mourners' Kaddish in public when a minyan is present.[4]


Kibbutz Kfar Szold, in Upper Galilee is named after her. The Palmach, in recognition of her commitment to "Aliyat Hanoar" Youth Aliyah, named the illegal immigration (Ha'apalah) ship "Henrietta Szold" after her. The ship, carrying immigrants from the Kiffisia orphanage in Athens, sailed from Piraeus on July 30, 1946, with 536 immigrants on board, and arrived on August 12, 1946. The passengers resisted capture, but were transferred to transport for Cyprus.

The Henrietta Szold Institute, National Institute for Research in the Behavioral Sciences, located in Jerusalem, is named after her. The institute is Israel's foremost planner of behavioral science intervention and training programs.

Public School 134 on Manhattan's Lower East Side in New York City is named after her.

In 2007, Szold was inducted into the American National Women's Hall of Fame.

In Israel, Mother's Day is celebrated on the day that Szold died, on the 30th of Shevat.

Szold Place, formerly Dry Dock Street runs from East 10th Street to East 12th Street in the East Village neighborhood of NYC.

The founder of the Hadaassah and the Youth Alliah.

1877 graduation as valedictorian of Western Female High School in Baltimore.

Henrietta Szold (Born December 21, 1860; Died February 13, 1945) was an American Jewish scholar and Zionist leader. She was born in Baltimore, Maryland. She was given special permission to study in the Jewish Theological Seminary, taught school for many years and worked for the Jewish Publication Society for over twenty years. She translated Heinrich Graetz's monumental History of the Jews from German into English.

In 1909 she visited Palestine and became a committed Zionist. In 1912 she founded Hadassah, the Women's organization, serving as its president until 1926. The Hadassah organization created the Hadassah hospital, serving Arabs and Jews, perhaps the largest and most modern medical center in the Middle East.


Find A Grave Memorial# 47800910


Archives of Maryland (Biographical Series)

Henrietta Szold (1860-1945) MSA SC 3520-13568

Maryland State Archives


American Zionist leader and founder of Hadassah: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henrietta_Szold

About חייה Szold, הנרייטה סולד (עברית)

קרי: "סוֹלד"; (21 בדצמבר 1860 – 13 בפברואר 1945) הייתה מחנכת, עובדת סוציאלית, סופרת ופעילה ציונית, התגוררה בארצות הברית ולאחר מכן בארץ ישראל. הייתה ממייסדות ארגון הנשים הציוניות "הדסה" ועמדה בראש ארגון "עליית הנוער".

ב-1909 הגיעה סולד (מקובל גם האיות סאלד) לראשונה לארץ ישראל, לאחר שעזבה את ניו-יורק בנסיון להתגבר על עזיבתו של בן זוגה למען אשה אחרת. סולד הגיעה לביקור עם אמה, והשתיים הזדעזעו מהתנאים הקשים במקום, מהעוני ומהזוהמה. הזעזוע הביא את סולד להקים ב-1912 את הסתדרות הנשים...

view all

Henrietta Chaya Szold, founder of "Hadassa"'s Timeline

December 21, 1860
Baltimore, Maryland, United States
February 13, 1945
Age 84
Jerusalem, Israel
February 1945
Age 84
Mount of Olives Cemetery Jerusalem Yerushalayim (Jerusalem District), Israel