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Joyful Mother Of Children: Part 1

Youth Aliyah Under Henrietta Szold
By Marian G. Greenberg

Henrietta Szold was too immersed in living to write her life's story. But she left a storehouse of letters, journals, reports, and scholarly papers through which she is revealed as the prophetic organizer and practical visionary who accomplished her own oft-stated goal - "to make the ideal real."

This, the centennial year of her birth on December 21, 1860, is the occasion for reviewing Miss Szold's literary legacy and for publishing to the world a faithful record of her profound and beneficent influence upon the family of man. She excelled in many fields - as teacher, scholar, linguist, writer, editor, social worker, and administrator. It was, however, her experience as director of Youth Aliyah - encompassing the last twelve of her eighty-four years - which epitomized all her creative powers. She regarded Youth Aliyah as the best thing we Jews are doing. I have never been concerned with any¬thing in public work which as impressively made me feel that I was an instrument in the hands of a Higher Power.

Marian G. Greenberg's study - one of several publications which Hadassah has sponsored in tribute to its revered founder and organizer - recalls Henrietta Szold as "the joyful mother of children." Although the 16,000 young exiles gathered in under her administration have been multiplied six fold, the undertaking still bears the imprint of Miss Szold's genius as director, educator, and social scientist. Although it is a mass movement which, under the State of Israel, has rehabilitated a multitude, Youth Aliyah retains Miss Szold's motherly warmth and close relation¬ship to the individual child.

Like the lamplighter of old, whose beacons shone out long after he had disappeared from view, Henrietta Szold has enkindled an enduring flame in the hearts of men. For 100,000 children and youth who "have re¬turned to their border" and for those who will follow she has lit the way - to fulfillment as free and creative citizens in the democratic society of Israel.

Youth Aliyah Management Committee of the Jewish Agency


"The Youth Aliyah had its origin in my Berlin study," recalled Recha Freier writing to Henrietta Szold, director of that immigration movement.

On a February morning in 1932, a few sixteen year old boys came to me for advice. Pale and shaken, unemployed and hungry, they had no pros¬pects for the future. Should they leave Berlin? Go to the Rhineland?

What was my opinion?
After restless days and sleepless nights I hit upon an idea; these young people should be sent to Eretz Israel to live and to work. Jewish youth could not be permitted to go to seed living purposelessly; the Land of Israel exists for them, to be upbuilt by them.

In the beginning there was the idea, a great and uplifting Zionist concept, which Mrs. Freier willed and worked into being.
By the end of 1933 responsible bodies had been set up to organize youth immigration and settlement. In Germany Die Arbeitsgemein¬schaft fur Kinder und Jugendaliyah (Coordinating Committee for Children and Youth Aliyah) was composed of three agencies: die Juedische JugendhiIfe (Jewish Juvenile Aid), the Children's Village of Ben Shemen, and Ahavah, an orphanage which was already in the process of moving from Berlin to Palestine. The Arbeitsgemeinschaft raised funds in Germany and abroad and conducted propaganda. The JugendhiIfe prepared candidates in Germany and assigned them to settlements and schools in Palestine. There, the Central Bureau for the Settlement of German Jews established a special department for youth immigration and negotiated with the Palestine Government to secure immigration certificates for boys and girls between the ages of fifteen and seventeen.

Gradually and inevitably Henrietta Szold became identified with the enterprise. She had anticipated retirement to Baltimore which offered reunion with her sisters and their young families and long de¬ferred literary work on her father's papers. Rooted as she was in Palestine, she often yearned for her native land. But she did not indulge in vain regret. Literally and spiritually she unpacked her trunk. Within a year the 74 year old director of Youth Aliyah exulted at her attach¬ment to a nascent Jewish world movement.

* This is a condensed version of a comprehensive history of "Youth Aliyah Under Henrietta Szold" - also by Mrs. Greenberg, first chairman of the National Youth Aliyah Committee of Hadassah (1935-41).

Miss Szold hailed the organizations abroad that helped "to maintain, cherish, and educate the nation’s wards." She rejoiced when Hadassah sponsored Youth Aliyah in the United States. (By December 1960, the centennial of its founder's birth, Hadassah will have provided nearly $40,000,000 for the care of 100,000 children and youth.)

Date: 3/8/2011 12:00:00 AM

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