Irma Lindheim

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Irma Lindheim (1886-1978) was trained in child study and social work, but, with the needs of the First World War, she became a first lieutenant in the Motor Corps of America. Between 1926 and 1928, she served as president of Hadassah, the U.S. Jewish women's group.[1]

An active Zionist, she was president, by 1919 of the Seventh District of the Zionist Organization in New York, and in 1922, she entered the Jewish Institute of Religion, where she was accepted as a candidate for a rabbinical degree.

She made her first trip to the British Mandate of Palestine in 1925, visiting numerous Jewish and Arab settlements on horseback, from Dan to Beersheva. A record of this trip was incorporated into her book The Immortal Adventure, published in 1928. She worked with the U.S. Jewish National fund after her return.

While president of Hadassah, she was also a vice president of the Zionist Organization of America and a member of the Actions Committee of the World Zionist Movement. She joined the Labor Group of the Zionist movement in 1930, and helped establish the League for Labor Palestine in 1932.

In 1933, after the death of her husband Norvin, Irma sold her home in Glen Cove, Long Island, and settled on a kibbutz in Palestine with her five children. She remained there until illness brought her back to the United States 40 years later. Among her projects in Palestine and, later, in Israel, were:

  • the development of playgrounds and recreational activities, with Bertha Guggenheimer;
  • the creation of Palestine Fellowships in 1935, which permitted American college students to study and travel in Palestine.

In 1948, while an active Zionist, she cosigned the letter of condemnation, headed by the signature of Albert Einstein, condemning the actions of Irgun at Deir Yassin.[2]