Presented to Judy Shereck by Jewish Council for Public Affairs
The first female editor of the Jewish Publication Society and student at the Jewish Theological Seminary, Szold and her mother took a transformative 1909 trip to pre-state Israel where they witnessed firsthand the starvation and disease rampant there at the time.
She soon founded Hadassah, a volunteer women's organization with the biblical mission of Aruhat Bat Ami: the Healing of the Daughter of my People. Her new organization's first mission was to send two nurses to Palestine to provide pasteurized milk to infants and new mothers, and to eradicate trachoma, an easily cured eye disease. In1918, the organization sent an entire medical unit, composed of 45 doctors, nurses, dentists and sanitary workers, to bring American-style medical care to serve all, regardless of race, creed, or ethnicity.
These early efforts formed the beginning of the Israeli healthcare system, which today includes some of the world's leading research and treatment hospitals, and schools of medicine and nursing.
During WWII, Szold helped organize the rescue of thousands such children, bringing them to safety in Palestine. This remnant of saved European Jewry became one of the foundations of the modern state of Israel, and many of her "children" and their children survive to this day.
Hadassah has founded and sustains enormously important institutions in Israel, including two world-class medical centers in greater Jerusalem, Hadassah College Jerusalem, one of Israel's top-ranked smaller colleges, and three Hadassah Youth Aliyah villages serving young immigrants and Israel's underprivileged youth. It also runs Israel's largest touring and residency program for American Jewish youth through Young Judaea, Hadassah's Zionist youth movement.
Today at 100 years old, with 300,000 members, Hadassah is the largest Jewish organization in America, and one of the largest women's volunteer organizations in the world.
As we at the JCPA well know, Hadassah is far more than its achievements inside the State of Israel. It has been a powerful voice here at home for social justice, human rights, civil liberties and U.S. support for Israel.
In recent years Hadassah has spoken out passionately in favor of federal and state funding for stem cell research, and has advocated strongly for legislation that supports medical privacy and freedom from genetic discrimination by insurance companies and employers.
Since joining as a member agency, Hadassah members have taken important leadership roles in all three of JCPA's task forces and in virtually all areas of our engagement – for which we are tremendously grateful.
Judy, on behalf of the JCPA I ask you to please accept this plaque honoring Hadassah for a Century of Profound Love of Israel and the Jewish People.