Hadassah, the Women's Zionist Organization of America, is the largest Jewish women's organization in the Diaspora and the largest women's organization in the United States, surpassing all other Zionist organizations in the diversity and scope of its ...
activity. The book probes the nature of Hadassah by analyzing its ideas and tracing their Jewish, American, and feminine origins; describing its activities in the US and Palestine, and illustrating its significance in the contexts of American Jewry, American Zionism, the World Zionist movement and Israel. An extensive historical introduction describes Hadassah's history from its inception until 1948-its establishment and institutionalization, its early Zionist ideas, its medical and social activity in Palestine, and its role in Jewish society there. The introduction also discusses Hadassah's entry into political activity and, in tandem with other American Zionist organizations, its struggle for the establishment of Israel. Thus, as it analyzes the Hadassah ethos, its educational activity among American Jewry, the ideological disputes between Rose Halperin and David Ben-Gurion, and between Halperin and the Israeli deputies to the World Zionist Organization, the book explains the factors that enabled Hadassah to maintain its continuity for so many years, despite changing times and circumstances. The last chapters of the book compare Hadassah with other Zion ist women's organizations and discuss Hadassah as a women's organization, and the importance of its Eretz Yisraeli 'partners' who themselves functioned as pillars of the organization in the US. Finally, the conclusion presents factors that made Hadassah unique, facilitated its historical continuity and enabled it to cross social, ideational, and political borders, and to appeal to a very large population of women, transcending that of other Jewish women's organizations in the US.