BALM IN GILEAD: The Story of Hadassah by Marlin Levin

BALM IN GILEAD: The Story of Hadassah

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This partisan history of Hadassah -- the golden ghetto ladies service organization cum social club -- tells the story of its mitzvahs, in social welfare and public health, in building Israel. Hadassah's first two nurses, sent into the field on the eve of World War I when the Jewish state was still an uncut diamond buried in the Ottoman desert, found that the yishuv were no less benighted and illness-ridden than the remaining native population, but they managed to set up a clinic which, over the years, grew into a nursing school, a school lunch program, a health-care service and Hadassah Hospital (the first ill-fated building was abandoned after a convoy was ambushed in 1947 when traveling between the isolated complex on Mt. Scopus and the town), now a Medical Center whose synagogue has windows by Chagall. Besides Arab strafing, Hadassah had to deal with tensions between its American and European medical personnel, quarrels between Zionists who saw the Diaspora as a source of immigration and those wishing only to contribute funds and, briefly, with factions advocating shared Arab-Jewish sovereignty -- this stand was taken by Henrietta Szold, Hadassah's founder and mother hen until her death at 84 -- or those wanting an entirely Jewish state. Levin, an Israeli reporter, surprisingly gives little space to Hadassah as an American organization and sociological phenomena, and fails to outline its hookup to the World Zionist movement in a manner comprehensible to the non-Zionist, which leaves us with a history which is more of a report to the constituency as to how funds are being spent.

Pub Date: Dec. 1st, 1973
Publisher: Schocken