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The largest Zionist organization in the world, with more than 300,000 members in 1,500 chapters and groups in the U.S. and Puerto Rico. It supports health and educational projects in Israel, including Hadassah  Hebrew University Medical Center in Jerusalem, youth resettlement programs, the Hadassah College of Technology, and the Hadassah Career Counseling Institute. Through its Young Judea movement with its network of clubs, summer camps, and Israel programs, Hadassah seeks to ensure a strong Zionist and Jewish commitment among American youth. It also mobilizes support for its medical work through Hadassah International, an organization of friends of the Medical Center in more than 30 countries around the world.

When Hadassah’s two American-trained nurses arrived in Palestine in 1913, the country was suffering from a high infant mortality rate, trachoma (a dreaded eye disease), malaria, and other diseases. The first project set up by the two nurses was a small welfare station in Jerusalem for maternity care and treatment of trachoma. In 1916, during World War I, Hadassah was chosen to provide a medical unit for Palestine. In 1918, the unit established a permanent hospital in Tiberias, took over the old Rothschild Hospital in Jerusalem and opened the first nurses training school in the country. The first infant welfare station was opened in 1921.

From these modest beginnings, Hadassah expanded its work, covering Palestine, now Israel, with a network of medical services and a variety of agricultural and vocational education programs. Through the Jewish National Fund, Hadassah has participated in the reclamation of thousands of acres of wastelands and in afforestation. Henrietta Szold, the founder of Hadasssah, was the guiding spirit of Youth Aliyah from its inception in 1934 until her death in 1945. Hadassah is the largest organizational contributor to Youth Aliyah and has helped resettle more than 275,000 youngsters from some 80 nations.

Hadassah’s Medical Work. The Hadassah Medical Organization practices the principle of equality of treatment of patients regardless of race, faith, or ability to pay. Hadassah’s medical and health services are now consolidated into three facilities in Jerusalem: the 700-bed Medical Center at Ein Karem, the 300-bed community hospital on Mount Scopus, and a community health center at Kiryat HaYovel. Half a million patients are cared for annually in these institutions, and a full range of health disciplines is covered in Hadassah’s 105 medical, surgical, and health departments.

Also on the Ein Karem campus are the Hebrew University-Hadassah Medical School; the Hebrew University-Hadassah School of Dental Medicine, cofounded with Alpha Omega; the Hebrew University_Hadassah School of Occupational Therapy, the Hebrew University-Hadassah Braun School of Public Health and Community Medicine; and the Henrietta Szold Hadassah-Hebrew University School of Nursing. The Moshe Sharett Institute of Oncology provides advanced treatment for people with cancer. Inside the hospital’s Abbell Synagogue are magnificent stained-glass windows created for Hadassah by the artist Marc Chagall.

The Hadassah Medical Organization is renowned for its pacesetting work in teaching, healing, and research, setting standards in Israel for health care and medical education. The Medical Center houses the country’s first trauma unit and is the designated center for bone marrow transplantation. Twelve percent of the Medical Center’s work force is newly arrived Russian immigrants, most of whom have been retrained under Hadassah auspices.

For many years Hadassah has outreached to developing countries in Africa. Hadassah ophthalmologists have carried out thousands of eye operations in 11 different African countries. Together with the U.S. Agency for International Development, Hadassah established a hospital in Zaire. Hadassah physicians have assisted in establishing bone marrow facilities in the Far East and South America.

Hadassah’s Education and Child Rescue Programs. Hadassah early on recognized the need to provide quality vocational education and job training for the young people of Palestine. In 1942, it established the Seligsberg Vocational High School for Girls in Jerusalem. Two years later, the Brandeis Vocational Center for Boys opened. The high academic standards and creative approaches in these schools became the model for vocational programs in Israel. In 1969, the schools were merged into a coed high school integrating technical studies with academics. Recently, Hadassah transferred the school to the city of Jerusalem.

In 1970, Hadassah founded the first two-year college in Israel with the goal of providing professional and technological training in an academic setting that would allow students to compete in careers that promised jobs and a stable future. Today, the college offers courses in such highly technical fields as computer science, x-ray and imaging technology, printing, laboratory medicine, industrial design, and television professions.

Each year, more than 35,000 clients use Hadassah’s Career Counseling Institute, established in 1944, for its testing, counseling, and evaluation services.

Hadassah is co-owner with Youth Aliyah of Hadassah-Neurim, a residential village for Israeli teenagers, and sponsors day centers where troubled youngsters can receive technical training that will enable them to become useful and productive citizens. Special funds made available by have helped Youth Aliyah educate and absorb Ethiopian youth.

Hadassah in the United States. From Hadassah’s inception, its Jewish education program has been basic to its work. Through study groups, classes, and quality educational materials produced by Hadassah, members examine such topics as Zionism, Judaism, Jewish history and culture, Hebrew language and literature, and women’s issues. The monthly Hadassah Magazine features prize-winning articles on Hadassah’s work and on Jewish life in Israel and the rest of the world. Through its Zionist Affairs program, Hadassah serves as a resource center, educating members on issues that directly concern Israel and its relations with the U.S. Hadassah also works actively on the American scene as an advocate for democratic principles and as a force for freedom and equal rights.

Through its peer-led Zionist youth movement, Hadassah has helped thousands of young Americans become committed Jews and ardent Zionists. Cultural programs, sports and recreational activities, traditional religious observances, and summer and year-long Israel experiences instill in Young Judeans a lasting identification with Judaism and Zionism.

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