The book focuses mainly on the unique endeavor of the members of the Hadassah Women's Organization, who took upon themselves the mission of building modern public health services for the Jewish community in Palestine under British rule, based on their American experience in that field.
During these first ten years, public health services were provided to 46,000 pregnant women, 53,000 infants, 700,000 house visits were made by nurses, and 1.7 million visits were made to the 44 maternal and infant welfare centers that provided services nationwide.
Thanks to these services, infant mortality in the Jewish community dropped significantly from 144:1000 in 1922 to 54:1000 in 1939 (compared to 50:1000 in the U.S. and 53:1000 in the U.K.). No other similar endeavor has achieved such remarkable results in such a short period of time. All public health services provided under the umbrella of Hadassah were equal to all, including the Arab community. The mission was based mainly on the Zionist ideology of building a new nation healthy in body and mind.
The public health mission of these American women was an integral part of the Zionist mission and activities at that time. However, unlike other fields of Zionist activity in Palestine during this period, it was led completely and only by women. This book is the story of these determined American Zionist women and their remarkable achievements and contributions to the health of the Jewish community in Palestine, which was the early offspring of a nation in building.
The Hadassah Book also includes original pictures that were discovered only a few years ago in one of the old Hadassah storage rooms in Jerusalem by Prof. Yoel Donchin, and they are currently displayed at a special exhibition in the Jerusalem Theater.
About the Authors
Shifra Shvarts, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor of the History of Medicine at Ben-Gurion University, and a researcher at the Gertner Institute for Epidemiology and Health Policy Research, Sheba Medical Center. She specializes in the social history of medicine and public health in nineteenthto twentieth-century Israel. She has published six books on the development and history of the Israeli health care system. She is also the author of the Israeli HMO indices in the Israeli Medical Encyclopedia and in the Encyclopedia Judaica.
Zipora Shehory-Rubin, Ph.D., is a Senior Lecturer at Kaye Academic College of Education in Beer- Sheva, Israel, where she teaches the history of education and Hebrew language. She received her Ph.D. in history from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev after completing her dissertation on Hadassah's educational enterprises and health activities during British Mandatory rule over Palestine. Her publications include books and articles on various aspects of the history of education and the history of medicine.
Prof. Yoel Donchin, M.D., is a Clinical Professor of Anesthesia and Intensive Care at the Hadassah Medical Center, Hebrew University, Jerusalem. After graduating from Hadassah Medical School, he continued his residency at Hadassah, where he is now the head of the Patient Safety Center. He also rescued and preserved more than 1,000 photographs from Hadassah's early years and films created during that period. Currently he is the president of the Israeli Society of the History of Medicine.