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Rose Gell Jacobs

JACOBS, ROSE GELL (1888–1975), U.S. teacher and activist. A founding member of the Hadassah Organization in 1912, Jacobs rose through the ranks to become a prominent Zionist speaker, organizer, and national leader. She was born in New York City in 1888, educated at Columbia University, and taught in local public schools (1908–14). After marrying Edward Jacobs, an Atlanta attorney, she left teaching and became more active in Jewish affairs. She founded several Hadassah chapters in the American south and edited Hadassah's newsletter from 1920 to 1925. Jacobs held several senior posts in Hadassah and served two terms as Hadassah's national president (1930–32 and 1934–37).

With the rise of the Nazis, Jacobs pushed Hadassah to help European Jewry. It was on Jacobs' advice – and with her signature on the Jewish Agency contract in 1935 – that Hadassah officially adopted the Youth Aliyah program to rescue Jewish youth from Nazi Europe. In 1936, at great personal risk, Jacobs visited Germany to investigate the situation of the Jewish community and firm up Hadassah's role in Youth Aliyah. Over the following years, with vital support from Hadassah, Youth Aliyah rescued many thousands of youngsters from war-torn Europe.

In 1940, ignoring the dangers of wartime travel, Jacobs went to Palestine to set up the Hadassah Emergency Committee as an on-site administrative body for Hadassah's health and social welfare programs there.

Jacobs was an initiator of the building program of the Rothschild-Hadassah-University Hospital and Medical School on Mount Scopus. She also served on the executive of the Jewish Agency for Palestine from 1937 to 1946; chaired Hadassah's Committee for the Study of Arab-Jewish Relations from 1941 to 1943; and served on the board of governors of The Hebrew University. After the war, Jacobs worked with the ESCO Foundation to promote industrial development in Palestine (later Israel).

Jacobs died on August 14, 1975, in New York City.

Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2007 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.