In 1896, one month before Theodor Herzl published his magnum opus, Der Judenstaat, Szold described her vision of a Jewish state in Palestine as a place to ingather Diaspora Jewry and revive Jewish culture. In 1898, the Federation of American Zionists elected Szold as the only female member of its executive committee. During World War I, she was the only woman on the Provisional Executive Committee for General Zionist Affairs.
In 1909, at age 49, Szold traveled to Palestine for the first time and discovered her life's mission: the health, education and welfare of the Yishuv (pre-state Jewish community of Palestine). Szold joined six other women to found Hadassah, which recruited American Jewish women to upgrade health care in Palestine. Hadassah's first project was the inauguration of an American-style visiting nurse program in Jerusalem. Hadassah funded hospitals, a medical school, dental facilities, x-ray clinics, infant welfare stations, soup kitchens and other services for Palestine's Jewish and Arab inhabitants. Szold persuaded her colleagues that practical programs open to all were critical to Jewish survival in the Holy Land. "In October 1934 Szold laid the cornerstone of the new Rothschild-Hadassah-University Hospital on Mount Scopus.
In the 1920s and 1930s she was a supporter of Brit Shalom, a small organization dedicated to Arab-Jewish unity and a binational solution. In 1942, she was one of the co-founders of the Ihud party which advocated the same program.
Party affiliation: Zionism