• Issue: November 1964
  • Designer: M. Krup
  • Plate no.: 124
  • Method of printing: Photogravure

Anna Eleanor Roosevelt was born in New York on October 11, 1884 to a family prominent in New York society and noted for its genuine concern for the underprivileged and extensive activities in various charities.

When Eleanor was ten years old, she lost her father; her mother had passed away two years earlier. Eleanor and her younger brother, Elliot, went to live with their grandmother, who undertook to prepare her granddaughter for her future life. In addition to her religious education Eleanor acquired a wide knowledge of languages and music. She was also trained to manage a household and to take an active interest in charity work. She spent her summer vacations on the family farm, helping with the daily chores, roaming through the woods and reading. She always found satisfaction in helping others.

At the age of 15, a year after she met Franklin Roosevelt, a distant relative who was to become her husband, Eleanor was sent to a boarding school in England. She spent three years there studying languages. After her return to the United States in 1902, she devoted herself to social work. Eleanor, who since childhood showed a deep interest in the underprivileged and their problems, found great satisfaction in her work as an investigator of working conditions in stores and sweatshops.

Eleanor and Franklin Roosevelt were married in 1905. Five years later he was elected senator for the State of New York. Eleanor, now a mother of two children, plunged into public life and became his devoted co-worker. When President Wilson appointed Franklin Roosevelt Secretary of the Navy, the family moved to Washington.

In 1917, when the United States entered the war, Eleanor, by then a mother of five, opened a Red Cross canteen. She spent most of her time worrying about warm clothes for the volunteers and visiting wounded soldiers.

In 1921 Franklin Roosevelt suffered an attack of polio and his legs were paralyzed. Eleanor was strongly opposed to all who believed that because of his illness Franklin should retire from political activity and lead a quiet and comfortable life. She insisted that such a life would ruin Franklin and that only in an active political life would he find the inner strength to overcome his illness. The doctors agreed with her and Franklin continued his political career.

Two years later he was elected Governor of the State of New York. In addition to her official duties as the Governor's wife and her activity as editor and reporter for a leading women's magazine, Eleanor served as eyes, ears and legs to her handicapped husband.

In 1932 Roosevelt ran for President. Eleanor participated actively in the election campaign and Franklin was elected. His election was a turning point in the economy of the American society. Roosevelt's New Deal saved the United States from the horrors of the Depression. In 1933 the Roosevelts moved into the White House. Eleanor accepted the glamorous life of America's First Lady, declaring: "it will not change me." True to her word the life she led in the White House was admirably simple and independent. Her new position obliged her to give numerous tea parties for the President's prominent guests, but that did not cause her to neglect her visits to slums, women's prisons and mental institutions. At her husband's request she traveled across the United States, reporting to him on what was happening throughout the country. She lived among the people and created a strong bond between them and their President.

Eleanor was a persistent and dauntless woman. She led the struggle for civil rights, devoted herself to helping the downtrodden and the unfortunate. Her daily column "My Day" appeared in many newspapers throughout the country. She became the conscience of the American people. During World War II she traveled to all fronts, ignoring great dangers, encouraging soldiers and visiting the wounded.

After the death of her husband, Eleanor accepted President Truman's offer and became a delegate to the United Nations. She was appointed U.S. representative to the Commission on Human Rights and considered the acceptance of the Bill of Human Rights by the General Assembly of the United Nations as a great personal victory. She was devoted to all human beings without regard for race, nationality or creed.

She was not only a symbol of all the fine qualities of the American people, but she was also a citizen of the world. This wide span of activities did not prevent her from remaining devoted to her family.

In 1952 Eleanor visited Israel for the first time. She was tremendously impressed by what was being achieved in the country, especially by the social and educational work carried on by Aliyat Hanoar - The Department of Child and Youth Immigration. Eleanor readily agreed to become the world patron of Aliyat Hanoar. Her patronage was not a mere symbol, but a task which she seriously undertook. For her this was not only an organization for the education and rehabilitation of Jewish children in Israel, but a magnificent human effort that should serve as an example to other nations.

The close bond of understanding and co-operation during the last ten years of Eleanor's life was a great honor for Aliyat Hanoar and the State of Israel. Her life, character and deeds have created an eternal source of inspiration for our generation and for generations to come. The death of Eleanor Roosevelt was a great loss to the State of Israel, Aliyat Hanoar and the entire Jewish people.

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80th Birthday Eleanor Roosevelt