Charlotte Jacobson, former Hadassah president, dies

(JTA) — Charlotte Jacobson, who as Hadassah national president reclaimed the Jerusalem land where the organization’s flagship hospital now sits, has died.

Jacobson, who served as Hadassah president from 1964 to 1968, including during the Six-Day War, died last Friday in Florida.

For 60 years she served in many leadership positions in American and world Zionist organizations. In 1998, Jacobson received Hadassah’s coveted Henrietta Szold Award, becoming the first Hadassah leader so honored. Previous awardees included Eleanor Roosevelt, Harry Truman, Golda Meir, Yitzhak Rabin, Simon Wiesenthal and Elie Wiesel.

“The Jewish people, Israel and Hadassah have lost a monumental figure, a role model that virtually every Zionist activist has tried to emulate for more than half a century,” said Nancy Falchuk, the current president of Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization of America. “We are tremendously sad at her passing but also incredibly grateful for the legacy she left us.”

Following the 1967 Six-Day War, Jacobson was able to reclaim two key pieces of ground in Jerusalem that Hadassah had lost during Israel’s War of Independence: Hadassah Medical Center on Mount Scopus and the gravesite of Hadassah founder Henrietta Szold on the Mount of Olives.

As chair of the Building and Development for the Hadassah Medical Organization, Jacobson supervised the rebuilding of the hospital and the building of the Moshe Sharett Institute of Oncology.

Jacobson served on the board of directors of the Hebrew University, the Jewish Agency, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency and the American Zionist Youth Foundation. From 1971 to 1982 she was chair of the American section of the World Zionist Organization. In 1981 she became the first woman elected to the presidency of the Jewish National Fund.

Jacobson traveled the world in defense of Jewish rights, meeting with refuseniks in the Soviet Union, and advocating for freedom of worship and emigration in front of the leaders of Syria and Egypt. She also defended Israel and the Jewish people in the halls and overseas conferences of the United Nations.

 

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