Hadassah, Women's Zionist Organization of America has been supporting Youth Aliyah since Henrietta Szold adopted the organization shortly after its establishment 70 years ago. Since then Hadassah has helped rescue tens of thousands of Jewish children and provided them with the means to build successful lives. In March Hadassah will fund and participate in the "It Is My Brother and Sister I Seek" mission to Poland for the sixth year.
June Walker, National President of Hadassah, who visits Youth Aliyah villages and centers during every visit to Israel sent the following greetings. "When the students of the Birthright-Israel program recently visited our hospitals, we reminded them that it was youth like them, college kid cast out of both university and employment in Hitler’s Europe who were the initial participants in Youth Aliyah. Hadassah’s founder Henrietta Szold often met them at the boat and helped them get settled in their new homeland. Back then we couldn’t have guessed that seventy years later our organization would still be supporting the crucial efforts of Youth Aliyah. Our latest project is providing a home for youth village graduates, soldiers who have no place to return on furloughs. Youth Aliyah’s life saving and enriching work goes on and Hadassah is proud to play an important role in it."
Leah Reicin, Chair of Hadassah's Youth Aliyah Committee, conveyed greetings. "Seventy years ago, Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization of America embarked on a bold new venture, the rescue of Jewish children from Nazi Germany. It was an endeavor fraught with great risk - transporting children thousands of miles away from their parents and home and bringing them to a land where the language, culture and climate was unfamiliar and foreign. Yet this enterprise initiated the greatest child rescue agency in the history of the world. Hadassah’s resolve and commitment to Youth Aliyah had its roots in Judaism’s 2000 year old rabbinic mandate of communal responsibility for the welfare and education of every Jewish child.
For seventy years Hadassah has remained dedicated to the rearing and education of Israel’s immigrant children and children at risk through Aliyat Hanoar. For seventy years the children of Youth Aliyah have repaid the women of Hadassah with their accomplishments, involvement and participation in the building of Medinat Yisrael. Indeed Hadassah and Youth Aliyah have had a 70 year old romance that has never waned. Today, Hadassah’s involvement with Youth Aliyah had taken on new projects: sponsorship of the "It Is My M Brother and Sister I Seek" tour of Poland and it’s death camps; the support of the many enrichment programs at Youth Aliyah villages and day centers; the capital improvements of the villages; the offering of psychometric testing to help children identify their particular talents, career options and tracks of education, etc. All of these programs have improved the children’s quality of life.
Last year, I had the privilege of accompanying the children on the trip to Poland. What a joy it was to view the comfort, compassion and love they exhibited to one another and the staff during this difficult trip. How proud I was of the intelligent and beautiful programming they presented on the site of each of the death camps. What great “nachat” I experienced during the evenings when the children would voice their personal reflections and reactions to what they have seen during the day. Being with these children made me realize the truth of the Talmudic commentary of Rabbi Judah “See how precious children are: the Shechina did not go with the Sanhedrin or the priestly caste into exile, but it did go with the children.” Obviously the Shechina knew what it was doing and now that our children have returned home, may we remain as committed to them as the Heavenly Presence has been.
Mazal tov to Youth Aliyah on its 70th birthday."
Shvat 5764 - February 2004