Page 107 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 18

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H E N R I E T T A SZOLD AS WR I T E R
B
y
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r v i n g
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i n e m a n
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T WOULD appear that Zionists are misogynists. How else
is one to account for the comparative meagerness in Zionist
literature of references to a woman who, both spiritually and
practically, made an undeniably major contribution to the
realization of Israel? Or how account for the fact that she is not
included in
The Zionist Idea ,
the recently published anthology
of Zionist expression from Rabbi Alkalai to Ben-Gurion, al-
though she was undoubtedly one of the most articulate, literate
and eloquent Zionists of her long time? It is true that it might
be a little difficult to decide where to place Henrietta Szold in
that anthology, to classify her as Zionist, since spiritually she
belonged with Ahad Ha־am, theoretically with Magnes and
Buber, intellectually with Schechter and Brandeis, and prac-
tically with Weizmann. That difficulty stems, naturally, from
the pragmatism of her sex which, in contrast to masculine con-
sistent rationalism, is willing to try anything, however fantastic,
which may possibly work, instead of insisting on a single-and-
logical-minded course which may not.
Nevertheless, Henrietta Szold belongs somewhere in “The
Zionist Idea,” if only for her “Jewish Nationalism” written in
1905 and delivered before the Jewish Chautauqua that summer,
about three weeks before the 7th Zionist Congress. The Zionist
situation then, as she described it, was: “The all but flawless
leader gone, and the East African territory being neither pleasant,
nor goodly, nor broad, the terms in which our benediction after
meals describes Palestine, unacceptable to the most enthusiastic
partisan of the offer, the Congress must now face the momentous
issue: Shall the Basle program be reaffirmed? Or may the Zionist
Jew maintain two amours —with Palestine and at the same time
with some other mistress?” She then proceeded with fearless
irony to describe the desperate world situation of the Jew — in
Russia, Rumania, Austria, Morocco, as seen by the thoroughgoing
Zionist who “dares whisper with bated breath that there is some-
thing foul in the American-Jewish State of Denmark, too.” But,
having done so, she insisted that this situation was not the real
raison d'etre
of Zionism for the Jew. “It is not a political ex-
pedient, not a philanthropic panacea, not a temporizing advance
guard of socialism, though it is something of all these. It is the
essence of his Judaism. Whatever happens he can never again