Henrietta Szold (1946)
Hadassah National Board member Hazel Greenwald (later
Berkowitz) unofficially founded the Hadassah Film Department in January
1942 when she requested $300 to produce a film celebrating the Jewish
women’s organization’s 30th birthday. This action inaugurated what
became an annual output of one to two films documenting Hadassah’s
philanthropic projects in Palestine and Israel. Under Greenwald’s
volunteer leadership, the Film Department produced and distributed
films to Hadassah chapters throughout the United States and overseas.
Henrietta Szold, as all Hadassah films, was made for an
audience of American women as a fundraising tool. But the driving force
behind this particular project was unique — the attachment the second
generation of Hadassah leadership felt to Szold herself, and their
desire to document her life and work. Henrietta Szold became an icon as
an American woman in her lifetime, and remains so as we approach the
150th anniversary of her birth next year. Many people in the American
Jewish community know her name today, and children, especially girls,
write about her for class projects. The long-lasting importance of
Szold’s accomplishments can be shown by, among other things, her 2007
induction into the National Women’s Hall of Fame. She received numerous
honors both in her lifetime and since her death.
It wasn’t until Szold was in her 60s, and had moved to Palestine, that
film was shot of her. It shows her involved with Hadassah projects in
Jerusalem and elsewhere throughout Palestine, performing her
responsibilities as a leader in the early days of the government of
pre-state Israel. The footage of Henrietta Szold in this film, although
brief, is likely the only moving image of her in existence. The only
words spoken in the film, outside of the voiceover narration, is one
minute of a speech given by Szold in the 1930's, a very rare recording
of her voice.
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NYWIFT programs, screenings and events are supported, in part, by grants from New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.