Henrietta Szold: Diving Into the Collections Part II

Blog post by Development and Marketing Manager Rachel Kassman. To read more posts from Rachel, click here.

Henrietta was the eldest daughter of Rabbi Benjamin Szold, the spiritual leader of Baltimore’s Temple Oheb Shalom. Throughout her life, Henrietta was committed to helping those who were in need.  Szold’s many contributions included establishing a night school in Baltimore for new immigrants and the creation of Hadassah, a national Zionist women’s organization devoted to improving health care in Palestine that is still in existence today.  She spent her later years living in Palestine where she was involved in the rescue of European Jewish children during World War II through her work with Youth Aliyah, an initiative that helped resettle and educate Jewish youth in Palestine.

In this post exploring personal items belonging to Henrietta Szold in the JMM collections, I’m sharing one of my favorite accessories – handbags! (In case you missed the first installment, check out Henrietta’s jewelry here.) I love the variety of styles and materials these bags represent and imagining what kinds of outfits Henrietta would have matched these bags to.

This small white purse made of kid leather used by Henrietta Szold is currently on loan to the National Museum of American Jewish History, as part of their core exhibit. The fading of the blue cloud design at the top of the handbag and the considerable amount of discoloration/staining on the bag implies this purse was in heavy rotation! Courtesy of Temple Oheb Shalom, JMM 2004.97.9. 58.
I really enjoy the circular loops used as fringe on the bottom and closures of this hand-crocheted ivory bag. It is unclear if this bag was made by Henrietta herself, but it has appeared to have aged very well. Courtesy of Temple Oheb Shalom, JMM 2004.97.10.
The beadwork on this Berlin work style bag is absolutely gorgeous and in beautiful condition. I especially like the dangling bit at the bottom which lets you see the individual colors of the beads used in the floral design. Courtesy of Temple Oheb Shalom, JMM 2004.97.30.

This last “purse” is less of an accessory and more of a necessity, but that doesn’t mean sacrificing style! Henrietta used this wood and leather carrying case for collecting botanical specimens on her Botanical Society excursions. The carved flower motif speaks to both form and function. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Jastrow Levin, JMM 1992.242.3a.

Until next time – take a look at your own accessories. What stories do they tell about you?


Collections jewish museum of maryland

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