Pioneer Draws Lively Contrast Between Old and New Palestine
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Pioneer Draws Lively Contrast Between Old and New Palestine

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“Twenty-two years ago, on my wedding trip, I went to Palestine. At that time such a journey was something quite extraordinary—Palestine had not yet become the fashion—but my husband and I were both ardent Zionists and so we decided to make Palestine our goal. I was quite young—a graduate of Teachers’ College—I had just started to teach school—and now I was embarking on this great adventure, now I was on my way to Palestine, my heart filled with enthusiasm and expectations. Experience, of course, I had none. Even my Zionism, sincere and eager as it was, had yet to meet the test of reality. For it was less personal contact with actual life than the enthusiasm engendered by a book which had made me accept the Zionistic tenets. The book was ‘Auto-Emancipation,’ by Leo Pinsker, and if I ever had a striking intellectual experience, it was certainly in reading that book. It created for me a new heaven and a new earth. This was, then, the background and the mood in which we undertook our trip.


“Well, the contact with reality was not quite what I had expected. There is only one word to describe the conditions as I found them at that time in Palestine, and that word is: hopeless. Life there assumed somehow the quality of a nightmare, terrible and unreal at the same time.


“Since then I have been in Palestine six times and lived there once for a whole year and the changes that have been wrought in those years are simply miraculous. Life there is now full of hope, full of energy and endeavor.

“And although Palestine is now constantly growing and developing, although it even experiences a certain prosperity which has not been its part and portion since Biblical times, existence there has yet a distinctly simplicity, a definite reliance on basic values which makes it much more satisfying than the complicated and purely material civilization in which we live here.”


She who speaks thus animatedly and interestingly is Mrs. Edward Jacobs, who has recently been elected National President of Hadassah. She is one of the pioneer Zionists in this country, a close friend of Henrietta Szold, and an outstanding figure in Jewish life. Her talent for leadership and organization has found expression in numerous civic and philanthropic activities. As a young woman she was actively engaged in the militant suffrage movement and served as vice-leader of the League of Women Voters. She has also been deeply interested in the problems of immigration and education and has done valuable social service. The devotion she brings to her work for every worthy cause is proved by the fact that when years ago she was a Club Leader of the Hebrew Sheltering Society—an office she held for six years—she never missed one Sunday morning in meeting her club and bringing to her charges the rich gifts of her personality.

That Mrs. Jacobs is married she has told already. She has two children, a married daughter and a young son of fourteen years. Although her hair is gray—she wears it very becomingly like a crown on a well-shaped head—her face is charmingly youthful, alight with zest and interest, tender with sympathy and understanding.

Speaking of the Jewish woman of today, Mrs. Jacobs praises the way in which the majority of Jewish women give generously of their time, their money, their interest to civic, national, and international problems and endeavors. But she adds a serious word of admonition:

“Let no woman who works for Zionism,” she says, “for Zionism ideals and for the development of Palestine imagine even for one moment that she is doing philanthropic or charitable work, that she is active in behalf of others. No, in working this way she works for herself and her children, for their happiness and their dignity. In creating the worthy spirit of the Home-Land the Jewish mother of today builds the future of her children.”

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