Jewish Life


How Mother’s Day Came to Israel

By Sarah Zarrow

On Nov. 14, 1951, an 11-year-old girl named Nechama Frankel wrote to the children’s newspaper Haaretz Shelanu suggesting that Israel adopt the American holiday known as Mother’s Day. The editors agreed, and Israel has been celebrating the occasion in one form or another, on one date or another, ever since.

Initially honoring the yahrzeit of Zionist leader Henrietta Szold (who was known as the “Mother of the Children’s Aliyah” and who had no children of her own), the day was first celebrated by cooking breakfast and bringing it to mother in bed, based on the practice in the U.S. In the 1980s, pressure from some feminists spurred a name change, and the day has been known as Family Day ever since. Some argue that Family Day, lacking the “crass commercialism” of Mother’s Day in the U.S., better pays homage to Israeli mothers.

Main Photo: Henrietta Szold going over plans with kibbutz leaders circa 1940. (Courtesy of the Jewish Museum of Maryland)

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