Rose Gell Jacobs was born September 10, 1888, in New York. As a girl, Rose Jacobs joined a group organized by Alice Seligsberg to discuss ethics and ethical concepts. This group later became involved in Hadassah when it was formed in 1912. The purpose of Hadassah, an organization for women founded by Henrietta Szold, was to raise money for medical, social welfare, and educational projects in Palestine and Israel, and to educate its membership in Zionism, Jewish culture, and women's health issues. Rose Gell graduated from Columbia University and was a teacher in New York.
In 1913, Rose met Edward Jacobs through Edward’s sister-in-law and a mutual interest in Zionism. After their marriage in 1914, Edward and Rose visited Palestine on their honeymoon. Rose was the first Hadassah member to visit Palestine, aside from two nurses hired by the organization to work in Palestine. Henrietta Szold, President of Hadassah, asked Rose to write a report on the work of the two nurses upon her return from Palestine.
When the Jacobses returned to America, they moved to Columbus, Georgia. Rose objected to some aspects of life in the south such as child labor as practiced in the cotton mills. She asked to see the Booker Washington Institute at Tuskeegee, Alabama despite a fear of being ostracized by the community for it. Since there were too few women to establish a chapter of Hadassah, Rose became the first “member-at-large” of the organization. She continued to be actively involved in Hadassah, raising funds for the Medical Unit.
In 1915, the Jacobses moved to Chattanooga, Tennessee. A group of women in Chattanooga were in the process of organizing a chapter of Hadassah, and Rose helped build the organization without taking an office. Her daughter, Ruth, was born April 5, 1915. Despite being a new mother, Rose made several trips to Atlanta, Georgia, to found a chapter of Hadassah while living in Chattanooga. In 1916, the Jacobses moved to Washington, and in 1918 they moved to New York and Rose became a National Board member of Hadassah. In 1920, Rose became Acting President of Hadassah while Henrietta Szold remained in Palestine. Her son, Joshua, was born on July 23 of the same year. In 1922, Rose was a delegate to the International Zionist Convention.
Rose made many personal sacrifices for the sake of Hadassah. In 1927 she started law school at Fordham University; however, she left after one semester because of Hadassah’s request that she go to Palestine to help persuade Dr. Bluestone to remain as Director of the Hadassah Medical Organization despite political controversy surrounding his position.
In 1930 it appeared that Miss Szold’s stay in Palestine was likely to be prolonged, and Rose accepted the title of National President. She held that office until 1937. During her second term as president, from 1934 to 1937, Hadassah initiated building the Rothschild-Hadassah University Hospital in Jerusalem.
After retirement from the presidency, she applied herself specifically as Chairman of the Palestine committee, and later founded the Committee for the Study of Arab-Israeli Relations. During part of this period she served on the Executive Committee of the Jewish Agency, organized in 1929. As a member of the Jewish Agency she participated in the Conferences on Palestine in London in 1938 and 1939.
In the course of her lifetime, Rose Jacobs made over 15 trips to Palestine and made countless personal sacrifices for the sake of Hadassah and other Zionist organizations. Rose Jacobs died on August 14, 1975.