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Henrietta Szold - Health Pioneer (Part 6)

The Founder’s Role in Hadassah’s Medical Program
By Tamar de Sola Pool and Minnie W. Halpern


On every level of Hadassah's work the keystone of development was the idea of teaching. The nurses taught mothers how to care for the children. The school luncheons were nutrition lessons. The bedside doctors were pupils: in the time when Palestine was isolated from the advances of medicine, courses were organized to help maintain the current of progress which was the life blood of modern medical science. It was not financially or socially possible to establish a medical center in the early days of Hadassah and of the Hebrew University, but what was possible was the maintenance and development of medical standards through the refresher courses and, gradually,the post-graduate studies that developed on Mt. Scopus. World War II made this post- graduate work a vital factor in Hadassah's and the University's war services. Allied medical personnel, representing every country which sent its soldiers to the Near East, sat on school benches in pursuance of the study of military medicine, wound healing, special surgery, and all the special health needs which an army on the march had to fill. It may be said parenthetically that not only were the seriously sick and wounded brought to Hadassah in Jerusalem, but Palestine itself became an oasis for recuperation and health recreation of the men in the allied forces.

In 1940 negotiations were begun between Hadassah and the president of the Hebrew University, [Judah L. Magnes.  Dr. Magnes was also chairman of the Palestine Emergency Council of Hadassah.  Negotiations dealt with the preparatory work necessary for] the establishment of an integrated medical school under the joint auspices of the Hebrew University and Hadassah. While administrative details were being elaborated, Hadassah was accumulating a post war fund which made possible a significant fellowship program. As soon as travel was feasible, young doctors were brought to the United States, and sometimes to other special centers of advanced medicine for such training as would endow them with the qualifications for teaching medicine. Thus the medical pre-faculty became a medical faculty, ready even before buildings were available to train and teach and prepare new young doctors for the Land of Israel. Toward the end of the war for independence, with the cooperation of the Surgeon General of the Israeli army, fifty students were released from army service to complete medical studies which they had begun in various lands of exile. The school did not meet in the buildings on Mt. Scopus, but in the bombed out hospital at the very edge of no man's land in Jerusalem on the site and in the structure which was once the Hotel de France, where forty years ago the first medical unit organized by Miss Szold had its headquarters and where her sixtieth birthday was celebrated with sixty-one bright candles.

Henrietta Szold lived to see the beginning of the construction of the medical school on Mt. Scopus in a dynamic expansion under Dr. Haim Yassky's direction … The final fulfillment of Henrietta Szold's aspiration for translating concretely ideas into facts had to wait for more than a decade.

In the last ten years of her life, the Palestine Emergency Council of Hadassah met regularly at Miss Szold's home in Jerusalem. In the very last year of her life, her home was the Hadassah hospital. When mortal illness possessed her and doctors insisted that she be put to bed, it was arranged that she have her office adjoining her sick room in the [Henrietta Szold-Hadassah School of Nursing] on Mt. Scopus. There she worked [until] all strength left her. On February 14, 1945, Dr. Magnes cabled from Jerusalem, "We carried her from her home in the Nurses' School to her last home. Thousands, old and young, from all parts, came despite inclement weather to pass by her bier. She requested there be no addresses. May she rest in peace, and in each of us may something of her glorious soul enter, that we may be worthy to continue her work."


Who will gainsay that such a prayer has been answered?

Fifteen years have passed since Henrietta Szold was laid to rest. She is a living force in all the highways and byways of Israel. She is a tower of strength to thousands upon thousands of young American women who were never privileged to see her but who look upon her as a spiritual mother. She is with Hadassah all the way. She has been with Hadassah from the little clinic by the side of the road, from the hospital on the Street of the Prophets, and from the days when upon Mt. Scopus a light shone for all Jerusalem.

That light will not dim on Scopus. It has lent its flame and enkindled another great medical center upon the heights of Ein Kerem where for today and for tomorrow, and the tomorrows to come "The Healing of the Daughter of my People" will be a reality for all.

Date: 1/20/2011 12:00:00 AM

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