Jewish Role Models for Childless Jews
Here is a short list of childless Jews who left a meaningful inheritance to the Jewish people:
Deborah the Prophetess
8th Century BCE
Deborah was the only female Judge. She is credited with winning one of the largest wars of the time, uniting the tribes, and maintaining peace for forty years. Although the Book of Judges mentions Deborah's marriage to Barak, it does not ever refer to her children or family life. The "Song of Deborah and Barak" in the fifth chapter calls her the mother of Israel.
Lina Frank Hecht
Lina Frank Hecht was a Jewish female philanthropist and social reformer. Hecht worked to assist immigrants, children, and poor in the Boston Jewish community. One of her largest projects was the Federation for Jewish Charities; she served as its vice president in 1908.
Henrietta Szold was a U.S. Jewish Zionist leader and founder of Hadassah Women's Organization. Hadassah moved to upgrade medical care in Israel. Szold felt strongly that these issues were necessary for the growth and stability of the Jewish community in Israel.
Rabbi Avrohom Yeshaya Karelitz (Chazon Ish)
Rabbi Karelitz was born in Kosava, Belarussia, where he studied with Rav Chaim Soloveitchik. Rabbi Karelitz then studied in Vilna where he was encouraged by Rabbi Avraham Isaac Kook to move to Israel. Although he never held a formal leadership position, Rabbi Karelitz became well known for his broad understanding of Jewish law. His vast knowledge of science and math gained him respect in the political realm as well, and Israel's prime minsters often consulted him. Rabbi Karelitz became famously known as the Chazon Ish. The Chazon Ish did marry but did not have children.
Sarah Schenirer was the founder of the Beis Yaakov movement, the first Jewish Orthodox school system for girls. With the support of the Gerrer Rebbe and the Chofetz Chaim, Schenirer established more than two hundred schools before her death.
Rav Tzvi Yehuda Kook
The son of Rabbi Avraham Isaac Kook, Rav Tzvi Yehuda spent his childhood traveling between towns where his father held rabbinic positions. In 1904, a position opened in Jaffa and the family moved to Israel. Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda traveled between Israel and Europe where he worked to promote the Zionist ideals of his father's movement. In 1922 he married in Warsaw; however, his wife died without having had any children. Rabbi Kook never remarried. He continued his father's work and became the leading figure for the Religious Zionist movement, encouraging hundreds of Jews to settle in Israel.
Haskil was born in Bucharest to a family of musicians. When she was five, her uncle took her to the Bucharest Conservatory where she studied for a year. Haskil became one of the most prestigious pianists of her time.
Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson
Schneerson was the seventh Lubavitcher Rebbe. During his time as Rebbe, he built Jewish homes and synagogues in as many locations as possible. He was a believer in Jewish outreach and unity, and a firm supporter of the State of Israel.
Nechama Leibowitz was a scholar of Jewish Studies and Bible thought. Her books established new insight into and analysis of the text while always emphasizing a moral lesson. Her books became widespread throughout Israel and America where they changed the face of Jewish education.