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Hadassah Medical Organization Records in the Hadassah Archives

Identifier: I-578/RG 2

Scope and Content Note

The records of the Hadassah Medical Organization (HMO) in the Hadassah Archives include articles, clippings, correspondence, memorandums, minutes, press releases, publications, reports, and speeches. Though material in the collection dates from 1918 to 2009, with bulk dates of 1940 to 1990, the collection's strength lies in the material documenting the years from the mid-1920s through the 1970s—years of enormous growth and change within the medical projects and programs funded by Hadassah, the Women's Zionist Organization of America (HWZOA). One of the greatest strengths of the HMO records is administrative history.

From 1918 through 1921, the HMO was known as the American Zionist Medical Unit (AZMU). Early correspondence and minutes dating from 1918 through the 1930s shed light on the founding period, as does material originating under the first directors of the HMO (Series VI, Subseries 1). The rapid turnover of the first directors underscores the early tumultuous history of the Hadassah Medical Organization and the challenges of establishing medical services in Palestine. Directors' correspondence is primarily correspondence between the HMO Directors and National Board members (chiefly the National President and the HMO Chair) in New York. The administrative activities of the HMO during this unsettled period are documented in the Henrietta Szold correspondence (Series VI, Subseries 1), particularly her correspondence with Acting Director Alexander Salkind and Assistant Director Reuben Kaznelson.

In 1927, the Governing Board of Hadassah sent a Commission to Palestine to investigate the problems E. Michael Bluestone was having in running the HMO; the HMO Governing Board Minutes (Series I, Subseries 1) documents their findings. The Governing Board minutes and correspondence dating from 1923 to 1928 (Series I, Subseries 1) as well as correspondence dating from 1925 to 1927 (much of it in Hebrew) further illustrate the administrative struggles during the Bluestone directorship. The Isaac M. Rubinow correspondence covers this period and includes Rubinow's advice to Bluestone on how to handle events in Palestine.

1925 was a landmark year in the history of the Yishuv (Jewish community) in Palestine since it marked the founding of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Rabbi Judah Leon Magnes served as the first President of the Hebrew University and the Judah Magnes correspondence (Series I, Subseries 4) covers the years from 1925 to 1940. Through the years Magnes was involved with Hadassah as the Hebrew University became closely involved in various projects with the HMO, most notably the construction of the joint Hadassah-Hebrew University Medical School and Medical Center. 1925 was also the first year that the HMO digests of correspondence (complied by Hadassah) appeared, documenting eleven years of the administrative history of the HMO in Palestine.

The Hadassah Medical Organization reorganization correspondence (Series I, Subseries 7), 1926 to 1938, documents the internal administrative changes within the organization that included the elimination of the administrative functions of the heads of the Hadassah Hospital, including a change in role for the Deputy Director position. In 1928, HWZOA became the sole financial supporter of the HMO after having shared those duties for the five previous years with the Joint Distribution Committee, the Zionist Organization of America, and Keren Hayesod.

Also, in 1928, the HMO appointed Dr. Haim Yassky as Director, the first director not from the United States. Dr. Yassky was the choice of Henrietta Szold, as is apparent from the Henrietta Szold correspondence dating from that period. Yassky's selection was not without controversy since he had limited experience as an administrator. Previous to his directorship, Yassky had served the HMO for several years as a circuit ophthalmologist, covering his area on a donkey. Yassky served as director from 1928 until he was killed during the attack on the HMO convoy on Mount Scopus (Jerusalem) in 1948. Yassky's correspondence can be found in Series VI, Subseries1 and material chronicling the convoy attack and its aftermath is located in Series I.

Dr. Israel J. Kligler opposed the elevation of Yassky to Acting Director and then to permanent Director. Kligler was head of the Nathan and Lina Straus Health Center, and served as part-time head of that HMO institution when it was founded in 1929. Kligler was also employed by the Hebrew University as a bacteriologist. The Nathan and Lina Straus Health Center in Jerusalem housed a wide variety of preventive or public health departments including: School Hygiene, Dental Care, and Physical Education. Kligler's correspondence can be found in Series VI, Subseries1 and Straus Health Center material is located in Series II, Subseries3, while material concerning preventive and public health can largely be found in Series III.

The relationship between the Hebrew University and the HMO was a central one and is amply documented. The legal ramifications of this relationship are explicated in material concerning the Hadassah-Hebrew University affiliation agreement dating from 1936 to 1965 (Series I, Subseries 4). Material pertaining to the joint University Hospital to be built on Mount Scopus is well-documented in Series II, Subseries and covers topics such as planning and fundraising. Material concerning the planning and establishment of the Medical School and the Medical Center (Ein Kerem), joint projects of the Hebrew University and the HMO, is also well-represented and can be found primarily in Series IV and Series II, Subseries 2. The partnership between the HMO and the Hebrew University extended beyond the Medical School and Medical Center. The Cancer Institute correspondence (Series II, Subseries 3), dating from 1924 to 1958, testifies to this fact since the radium which was purchased in the 1930s was raised from a fund that was a joint money-raising project.

Fundraising was and still is one of the primary activities of Hadassah. Though financial material is scattered throughout the HMO record group, it is chiefly found in Series I, Subseries 3 which documents the HMO's financial priorities and fiscal condition, as well as Hadassah's fundraising for and funding of HMO facilities and programs.

Perhaps one of the most historically important subseries in this record group is Social Unrest, Jewish-Arab Relations, and Conflict (Series I, Subseries 8) as it documents the HMO's crucial role in helping treat victims of the Arab riots of 1929 and 1936; it contains Dr. Eli Davis' first-hand account of the killing of the seventy-nine HMO workers and others by Arabs; and it includes other historically important background material such as memorial tributes to Haim Yassky who was killed in the attack. The siege at Mount Scopus is a central tragedy in the history of the HMO with reverberations emanating to the present. The tragedy led to the removal of the Medical Center from Mount Scopus, a decision which had been strenuously debated and documented in the correspondence and minutes related to the proposed University Hospital (Series II, Subseries 1), as well as in the Yassky correspondence (Series VI, Subseries 1). Not until 1967 did the HMO regain the land at Mount Scopus by which time the Medical Center was located at Ein Kerem. However, the history of Mount Scopus made the choice to build at Ein Kerem a controversial one. The discussion of whether or not it was too dangerous to build at Ein Kerem can be found in the material documenting the planning and development of the Hadassah-Hebrew University Medical Center at Ein Kerem (Series II, Subseries 2).

After Yassky's death in 1948, Dr. Eli Davis, the Assistant Director, was chosen to replace him. Davis' term of service is documented in his correspondence (Series VI, Subseries 1), as is the period he served as Assistant Director. Davis was the HMO Director in 1949 when the Hadassah-Hebrew University Medical School opened in Jerusalem. This occasion was marked by speeches which can be found in Series IV. The correspondence of Dr. Yehudah Bromberg (Series VI, Subseries 1) is noteworthy for the year 1932 when Haim Yassky was in the United States and Bromberg remained in Palestine in charge of the HMO.

The opening of the Medical School was cheered by a special group in the United States—the Medical Reference Board which changed its name to the Medical Advisory Board (MAB) in 1950. This group of American doctors provided expert aid to their Israeli colleagues. They helped with advice on planning and then administering the Medical School and Medical Center. The correspondence and minutes of the Medical Advisory Board (Series I, Subseries 1) provide documentation of their help. The Medical Advisory Board played an important part in the HMO fellowship and scholarship program. The Fellowships and Scholarships subseries in Series I includes correspondence showing how the MAB members played a significant role in enabling Israeli physicians to study with colleagues in the United States and elsewhere.

Predating by many years the program of medical education, as practiced in the Medical School, was the training of nurses. The Nurses' Training School was established in 1918 and for many years it was Junior Hadassah's major financial responsibility. Series V documents the history of one of the founding institutions of the HMO, the Nurses' Training School, later renamed the Henrietta Szold Hadassah School of Nursing in 1936, and again renamed the Henrietta Szold Hadassah-Hebrew University School of Nursing in 1975 when it became a four-year degree program (Bachelor of Nursing Sciences)—the first four-year nursing degree program in Israel. The nurses played an integral part in the success of the early Infant Welfare Clinics and this fact is recorded in the Infant Welfare subseries in Series III.

During World War II, Hadassah found it essential to create an emergency committee with the power to act if needed on any aspect of Hadassah's work in Palestine. The minutes of the meetings of Rose G. Jacobs (served as the Hadassah National President from 1930-1932 and again from 1934-1937) in Palestine, dating from 1935 to 1940 and located in Series VI, Subseries 1, contain the origin of the Hadassah Emergency Committee (HEC). Also during World War II, Charles S. Stephenson, surgeon and Rear Admiral in the Medical Corps of the United States Navy, was hired by Hadassah to inspect and report on the health and hospital conditions in Palestine in 1944. His report, notes, and correspondence can be found in Series V. Most other reports can be found in Series VI, Subseries 3

Dr. Kalman Jacob Mann was the HMO Director from 1951 until he retired in 1981 and his correspondence, abundant in this record group and chiefly located in Series VI, Subseries 1 documents this thirty-year period of the HMO. During Mann's tenure public health remained a major concern of the HMO. His correspondence is largely with Hadassah National Board members and with Hebrew University administration. A main subject of Mann's correspondence during his first decade as HMO Director concerns the planning and construction of the Medical Center at Ein Kerem, a joint project of Hebrew University and the HMO.

Minutes are rich sources of HMO administrative information. The minutes of the Medical School Committees Series 1946-1950 contains information on fundraising and disbursements for the Medical School. The Medical Advisory Council Minutes 1948-1959 feature the HMO Director conferring with other leading HMO doctors about personnel appointments. The minutes of the National Board HMO Committee 1947-1950 contain discussions in the United States of HMO events during the period of siege and abandonment of Mount Scopus. The HMO Administration minutes, 1948-1950, contain discussions between the Director and his assistants on administrative matters such as salaries.

Hadassah Medical Organization memorandums and reports contain a rich source of material produced by HMO Directors such as memorandums by Eli Davis, Haim Yassky, and Kalman J. Mann. A 1921 memorandum from Isaac M. Rubinow provides a strong defense of his policies which serve as an excellent summation of the early activities of the HMO.

In addition to the Hebrew University, the HMO established relations with other organizations such as the Jewish Woman's Association (Histadrut Nashim Ivriot), Magen David Adom, and Kupat Holim (Sick Fund of the General Federation of Jewish Labor in Palestine/Israel or Histadrut Haovdim). Material concerning affiliations and relations with other organizations can be found in Series 1, Subseries 5.

The design and construction of the medical campuses at Mount Scopus and at Ein Kerem is documented in various places in this record group. Material pertaining to architect Erich Mendelsohn, who served as consultant for the planning of Mount Scopus campus and designed Hadassah Hospital, can be found in Series VI, Subseries 3 and Series II. Material pertaining to architect Joseph Neufeld, who designed the Medical Center in Ein Kerem, can be found in Series VI, Subseries 3 and Series II. Material pertaining to Lawrence Halprin, landscape architect for the Ein Kerem campus, is found in Series II, Subseries 2. Architectural records concerning these projects are located in Record Group 21 of the Hadassah Archives.


  • Creation: 1918-2011
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1940 - 1990


Language of Materials

This collection is predominantly in English with some material in German, Hebrew, and French. Some Hebrew documents have English language annotations and/or translations.

Access Restrictions

The collection is open to all researchers by permission of the Director of Library and Archives of the American Jewish Historical Society, except items that are restricted due to fragility or as required by the agreement between Hadassah and AJHS.

Use Restrictions

Information concerning the literary rights may be obtained from the Director of Library and Archives of the American Jewish Historical Society. Users must apply in writing for permission to quote, reproduce or otherwise publish manuscript materials found in this collection. For more information contact:

American Jewish Historical Society, Center for Jewish History, 15 West 16th Street, New York, NY, 10011


Historical Note<extptr actuate="onload" altrender="Hadassah Medical Organization administrative staff with Henrietta Szold (2nd row center) and first HMO Director, Isaac M. Rubinow (on Szold's left), 1922" href="" show="embed" title="Hadassah Medical Organization administrative staff with Henrietta Szold (2nd row center) and first HMO Director, Isaac M. Rubinow (on Szold's left), 1922"/>

The historical note is from the 2009 finding aid. The text was originally created for the exhibit, "A Lifeline for Israel: The Hadassah Medical Organization 1913-1967," curated by Barry Kessler in 2005 at the Center for Jewish History in New York. It was lightly edited in 2015.

The Hadassah Medical Organization

From its beginning in 1912, Hadassah, the Women's Zionist Organization of America had an approach to health care that was based upon the simple concept of helping mothers care for their children. The origins of the Hadassah Medical Organization in Palestine/Israel began when two American nurses, Rachel "Rae" Landy and Rose Kaplan, were sent to Jerusalem in 1913. It grew into a network of hospitals, clinics, health stations, public health initiatives, and school-based programs that represented key segments of Israel's health care system.

A nursing settlement 1913-1918

At the turn of the 20th century, Progressive Era social reforms influenced many Americans' views on medical services, education, sanitation, and access to clean and safe food and water. American women were broadening their vision beyond their own homes and families and beginning to consider the well-being of poor women and children.

When American Jewish women saw the impoverished and disease-ridden children of Jerusalem through the eyes of Henrietta Szold, noted scholar and pioneer Zionist, they embraced her vision of meaningful, practical work. Szold inspired her women's study circle to form the first chapter of what would become a national women's Zionist organization, Hadassah. Following the format of the settlement house developed in America, Hadassah's goal was to begin public health initiatives and American-style nursing care in the Jewish homeland.

The American Zionist Medical Unit (AZMU)

As World War I continued, health conditions throughout Palestine deteriorated and inhabitants turned to the international Jewish community for help. On behalf of the World Zionist Organization, Louis D. Brandeis asked Hadassah to organize relief. Fulfilling the Balfour Declaration of 1917, the British took Jerusalem from the Turks and created "a national home" for the Jewish people in Palestine. Organized with Hadassah's support to combat the intolerable health conditions that ravaged post-war Palestine, the American Zionist Medical Unit (AZMU) departed from New York on June 11, 1918. The AZMU included a staff of 20 physicians, 20 nurses, dentists, a sanitary engineer, and a pharmacist, equipped with hundreds of cases of medicine, hospital linens, clothing (including baby layettes made by Hadassah women), enough medical equipment for a small hospital, an ambulance and six automobiles.

From AZMU to Hadassah Medical Organization (HMO) 1918-1939

By sending the American Zionist Medical Unit (AZMU) to Palestine, Hadassah created a modern health-care system for the Jewish community (the Yishuv). The AZMU's medical network was based in a modern hospital with a full array of scientific resources, yet maternity, infant, and children's health remained at the heart of Hadassah's mission. In 1921, the AZMU became known as the Hadassah Medical Organization, and a permanent presence in Israel.

Though Hadassah drew criticism as one of the Yishuv's leading representatives of American Zionism, the organization defended its operations and its autonomy in the Zionist politics of the Yishuv. Hadassah's greater concern with the women and children of the cities than with the young pioneers created tension with local leaders and darkened relations with Kupat Holim, the mutual aid fund of the pioneers. The AZMU continued to assist the mutual aid fund and, in return, demanded supervision over sanitary conditions in the work camps. Disputes arose with workers who ignored the AZMU physicians' advice to avoid contaminated water, get inoculated, and adopt a healthier diet.

A Jerusalem headquarters

The AZMU's centerpiece was the ninety-bed Meyer de Rothschild Hospital in Jerusalem, the first in Palestine with American-style departments headed by specialists. Hospital departments included internal medicine, pediatrics, obstetrics, ophthalmology, dermatology, and general surgery. New laboratories for bacteriology and pathology, a morgue, a machine shop, an isolation hut, and a laundry were added later.

Nurses' Training School

Desperate for skilled hands, the AZMU began a nursing school at Rothschild Hospital in 1918, building on the practical training in nursing started several years earlier by Dr. Helena Kagan. This gave local women one of their first real opportunities for vocational education. Soon after, a three-year formal curriculum was instituted, based on the American idea of nursing as a profession. Hadassah raised funds to publish the first Hebrew-language nursing textbook, The Eye by Aryeh Feigenbaum. Lectures on physiology and sanitation were given in Hebrew for the first time ever.

Hospitals and clinics outside Jerusalem

The AZMU arrived in Jerusalem in August 1918, following the takeover of Palestine by the British. Also quickly setting up emergency sanitation and refugee aid in Tel Aviv and Jaffa, the Unit followed the British conquest north. The AZMU fought cholera in Tiberias and typhoid in Safed. These efforts formed the basis of a permanent, countrywide medical establishment for Palestine.

Infant welfare

The heart of Hadassah's medical work was the Infant Welfare Station. From one milk kitchen started in Jerusalem's Old City in 1920, Hadassah's infant welfare stations multiplied to more than twenty by 1935. Hundreds of babies were registered, weighed, and examined. Mothers were taught how to bathe, dress, and feed their infants properly at weekly lectures given in Hebrew, Yiddish, and Arabic. To reach those who did not come to the clinics, Hadassah continued its original function of district nursing among the poor.

School hygiene

Protecting children from trachoma, lice, and ringworm had been at the forefront of Hadassah's concerns since the arrival of its first nurses in Jerusalem in 1913. AZMU preventive work evolved into the Department of School Hygiene eventually staffed by thirty nurses. They examined schoolchildren, teaching them basic health practices, and visited absentees at home. The effort, expanded to Tel Aviv, Haifa, and many other towns and villages, succeeded in dramatically reducing the incidence of disease.

School Lunch Program

In 1922, Hadassah began to address the severe malnutrition of many Jerusalem schoolchildren using a $50 gift from the children of Rabbi Maurice Harris' New York synagogue. They created a school lunch program that was sustained with pennies solicited from American Hebrew school students. By 1927, six schools were in the program which included a domestic science course that taught meal planning, preparation, serving, and marketing. By 1948, the program was feeding 28,000 children in three hundred schools.

Mount Scopus 1939-1948

By the early 1930s, Hadassah's hospitals, infant and child welfare stations, and public health programs had taken root throughout Palestine. Against great odds, they had proven their worth to the Yishuv through significantly lower infant mortality rates, well-nourished school children, emergency aid during Arab rioting, and the decline of malaria, trachoma, and typhoid fever.

As anti-Semitism grew in Europe, Jewish immigration to Palestine soared in the 1920s and 1930s. Tel Aviv and Haifa grew rapidly and matured politically, enabling Hadassah to turn its hospitals over to municipal governments in 1931. Hadassah gradually reduced its involvement in public health programs to encourage self-sufficiency and to free its own resources for new initiatives.

The Rothschild Hospital had become worn out from overuse. In partnership with the American Jewish Physicians Committee, Hadassah built a modern academic medical center based on an American model on Mount Scopus. It included aseptic facilities, advanced scientific equipment, and a highly specialized, university-affiliated staff. This new state-of-the-art hospital integrated Hadassah's expanded nursing school with the Hebrew University's medical faculty.

An exceptional faculty

Mount Scopus integrated three critical functions: a highly specialized level of hospital treatment, advanced medical research, and superior medical education. The hospital became successful due, in large part, to an exceptional faculty who were appointed to both Hospital and University departments. Seeking refuge, European medical talent flooded into Palestine, so that by 1940, some of the world's greatest physicians became heads of the Hospital’s thirteen divisions and eleven clinical or research laboratories. Among them was Ludwig Halberstaedter in cancer therapy, Bernhard Zondek, a leading gynecologist, pediatrician Benno Gruenfelder, and physiologist Ernst Wertheimer. Hadassah specialists and University researchers laid the groundwork for a medical school by developing a series of research institutes, post-graduate seminars, and conferences.

Beyond Mount Scopus

Although Hadassah's attention was focused on Mount Scopus and turning over many of its public health stations to local governments, the HMO continued to reach outward, serving the Yishuv through outpatient treatment, mobile medical units, public health nursing, and health education. It took on special assignments for the care of refugees, and in wartime, it conducted inoculation campaigns and set up emergency field hospitals.

The attack on the HMO medical convoy

An pivotal event in the escalating conflict between Arabs and Jews in Palestine occurred on April 13, 1948 when an HMO medical convoy, consisting of doctors, nurses, hospital workers, Hebrew University personnel, and members of the Haganah (Jewish military organization formed in British Mandate Palestine), was attacked by Arabs while en route to the medical facilities on Mount Scopus. Seventy-nine people were killed during the day-long attack. Among those killed were HMO Director Dr. Haim Yassky, Dr. Leonid Doljansky, a noted cytologist, and Dr. Moshe Ben-David, who was to head the new medical school.

Temporary quarters and long-range plans 1948-1961

After the ambush, the Mount Scopus medical complex was abandoned to United Nations forces. The complex included the Rothschild Hadassah University Hospital, the Henrietta Szold Hadassah School of Nursing (formerly the Nurses' Training School), and the unopened Nathan Ratnoff School of Medicine. After suffering the loss of its director, dozens of medical workers, as well as its hospital on Mount Scopus, Hadassah needed to galvanize itself and it quickly set up medical operations in makeshift quarters. Medical services were transferred to five temporary locations.

The state of Israel absorbed the management of the school lunch program and most of the health welfare stations, while Hadassah assumed only a subsidiary role in the medical care of the Jewish refugees and immigrants from the Arab lands flooding the country. Instead, Hadassah focused on the planning, funding, and building of a new state-of-the-art medical center at Ein Kerem on the outskirts of Jerusalem. Here, Hadassah planned to open schools of medicine, dentistry, pharmacy and nursing in conjunction with the Hebrew University.

Medicine, dentistry, pharmacy, and nursing

The long-planned Hebrew University Hadassah Medical School finally opened in May 1949. A synthesis of European and American approaches, the six-year undergraduate curriculum covered pre-medical science, laboratory-based studies in anatomy, microbiology, pathology and diagnosis, and two years of clinical work in the teaching wards and outpatient departments of the hospital.

In 1953, the first class began its six years of study at the Hebrew University Hadassah School of Dentistry, founded by the Alpha Omega Fraternity. The School engaged in new research in dental medicine and promoted the concept of dental hygiene, unfamiliar to most Israelis at the time. That same year, Akiva Kosviner, Hadassah's chief pharmacist, founded the School of Pharmacy. In 1957 the medical school was awarded a grant to establish the first teaching chair in public health, which soon evolved into a degree-granting division and later a full-fledged School of Public Health.

Immigrant health

Hadassah chose to play a limited—but critical—role in health care for the flood of poor immigrants and refugees arriving in Israel after the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. In 1949, Hadassah set up a children's hospital at the Rosh Haayin transit camp for Yemenite immigrants. Hadassah doctors and nurses provided full pediatric services for the children, many of whom suffered from severe malnutrition, acute intestinal infection, tuberculosis, and malaria.

Community health

Hadassah's mother and child health care work at the Talpiot immigrant transit camp inspired HMO Director General Kalman J. Mann's idea of a center that would address the social, psychological, and medical problems of the family as a whole. In 1956, Hadassah created a community health center based on his idea in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Kiryat Yovel.

Rehabilitation and therapy

The high percentage of disabled people among the immigrants from Arab countries and the large number of wounded from the 1948 Arab-Israeli War created an enormous need for new methods of rehabilitation. Hadassah was able to respond quickly with new and expanded services. In America, physical and occupational therapy had emerged as new professions during World War II. In its clinics and hospitals, Hadassah began offering a wide spectrum of specialized acute and convalescent care.

Hadassah-Hebrew University Medical Center at Ein Kerem

The Hadassah-Hebrew University Medical Center at Ein Kerem opened in 1961. It was designed to be a leading-edge hospital with clinical and research laboratories; outpatient departments; facilities for schools of medicine, dentistry, nursing, and pharmacy; numerous patient amenities; and room for expansion. Unable to find a single location to rebuild the medical center and the university campus, Hadassah and the Hebrew University had to part ways. Far removed from the city, Ein Kerem became the hub of an entirely new residential area, Kiryat Hadassah, with new roads to link it to Jerusalem.

Outreach to African nations

Hadassah participated in Israel's efforts to aid developing nations with technical training through international seminars and on-site clinics in many countries. Ophthalmologist Isaac Michaelson pioneered clinical and training programs in Africa, encouraging local independence as much as possible. Trainees instructed their fellow colleagues, multiplying the numbers of skilled personnel. Consequently, eye diseases were vastly reduced in several African countries.

The Israel-Arab War of 1967 and the return to Mount Scopus

The Israel-Arab War of 1967 (also called the Six Day War) began on June 5, 1967. To make room for war casualties, the staff at Ein Kerem evacuated all patients to emergency quarters following a well-rehearsed plan. Nine teams of surgeons performed 310 operations in three days, not losing a single wounded patient. After the war, the facilities on Mount Scopus were repossessed by the Hadassah Medical Organization and Hadassah began planning a state-of-the-art renovation. In 1976, the renovated and expanded medical center on Mount Scopus was reopened.

HMO accomplishments since 1968

Since 1968, the Hadassah Medical Organization has continued to bring the world's best medical talent and technology to Israel. Hadassah physicians and researchers have discovered breakthrough medicines and therapies, revolutionized medical diagnosis and record keeping, and pioneered new surgical techniques. Among its landmarks are Israel's first bone marrow transplant in 1977, first test-tube conception in 1982, first skin-grafting center in 1985, and first heart transplant in 1986. Also, the first artificial vertebrae replacement in 1987, first positron emission tomography unit in 1991, first rapid response trauma unit in 1992, first genetic therapy unit in 1998, and a center for stem cell research in 2004. Hadassah continues to model innovative community health practices and organize advanced scientific conferences to promote high-level research, while leading the world in the treatment of trauma due to terrorism.

Chronology of Events

American Zionist Medical Unit (AZMU) arrives in Palestine. Includes forty-four people: eleven doctors; five administrators; three dentists, twenty nurses; a pathologist; a pharmacist; a bacteriologist; a sanitary engineer; and a sanitarian.
The AZMU takes over the operation of the ninety-bed Rothschild Hospital in Jerusalem.
The Nurses' Training School is founded by the AZMU in Jerusalem.
The AZMU opens a hospital in Jaffa.
First School Hygiene Department established.
Anti-trachoma and anti-ringworm campaigns launched by the new School Hygiene Department.
Safed Hospital opens.
Anti-malaria campaign.
First infant welfare clinic opens, located in the Old City of Jerusalem.
Tel Aviv Hospital opens.
Jaffa Hospital opens.
The American Zionist Medical Unit becomes the Hadassah Medical Organization.
Haifa Hospital opens.
School lunch program established.
Infant welfare network numbers fifteen.
Safed Hospital opens a tuberculosis ward.
HMO becomes sole financial responsibility of Hadassah as Jewish Distribution Committee, Keren Hayesod, and Zionist Organization of America end monetary aid.
Tel Aviv Hospital moves to a new building.
Nathan and Lina Straus Health Center, a preventive and health education facility, opens in Jerusalem.
Schweitzer Hospital at Tiberias opens.
Haifa Hospital transferred from Hadassah to the community though Hadassah continues to give some financial support.
Nathan and Lina Straus Health Center, a preventive and health education facility, opens in Tel Aviv.
Rothschild Hadassah University Hospital cornerstone ceremony held on Mount Scopus on October 16.
Safed Hospital becomes solely a tuberculosis facility with sixty beds.
Schweitzer Hospital reopened by the Rural Sick Fund.
Infant and health welfare clinics now number twenty-eight.
Rothschild Hadassah University Hospital (RHUH) opens.
Henrietta Szold School of Nursing on Mount Scopus opens.
Athlit Hospital for emergency cases opens.
Leprosarium formerly Hansen Hospital taken over by Dermatology Department of Rothschild Hospital.
Seventy-nine people killed during a day-long attack and siege on an HMO medical convoy on the Mount Scopus road on April 13, 1948, including HMO Director Haim Yassky.
Mount Scopus complex including the Rothschild Hadassah University Hospital, Henrietta Szold Hadassah School of Nursing, and the unopened Nathan Ratnoff School of Medicine abandoned to United Nations forces.
Mount Scopus medical services transferred to the following facilities: Hospital A—formerly the English Mission Hospital; Hospital B—formerly Saint Joseph Convent Hospital where School of Nursing students were housed; Hospital C—Mekor Haim Sanatorium for tuberculosis; Hospital D— formerly Bet Hadegel; Hospital E—Ziv Hospital.
Hebrew University-Hadassah Medical School opens in a temporary building in Jerusalem with fifty students. It is the first medical school in Israel.
Rosh Haayin children's hospital opens.
Haim Yassky Hadassah Negev Hospital opens in Beersheba.
Albert and Mary Lasker Mental Hygiene and Child Guidance Center opens.
All health welfare stations outside of Jerusalem transferred from the HMO to the government of Israel.
Hadassah Community Health Center, a pioneering complete health welfare community, is established at Kiryat Yovel.
Safed Tuberculosis Hospital transferred from Hadassah to the government of Israel.
Zur Hadassah (rural center) opens.
Hadassah-Hebrew University Medical Center at Ein Kerem opens.
Henrietta Szold Hadassah School of Nursing is transferred to the Medical Center campus at Ein Kerem.
Health welfare stations in Jerusalem transferred from Hadassah to the government of Israel.
Hebrew University-Hadassah Medical School relocation to Ein Kerem.
School of Dentistry dedicated at Ein Kerem.
Mount Scopus returned to the possession of Israel.
School of Occupational Therapy, begun in 1963 by MALBEN, Kupat Holim, the government of Israel, and Hadassah is moved to Mount Scopus.
HMO hospitals outside of Jerusalem transferred to localities and the government of Israel.
Hadassah University Hospital (rebuilt and expanded) reopens on Mount Scopus.
Complementary Medicine Clinic opens at the Hadassah Medical Center, becoming the first medical institution in Israel to do so.

Chronology of HMO Directors

Isaac Max Rubinow
Henrietta Szold (Acting Director)
Isaac Max Rubinow
Henrietta Szold (Acting Director)
Alexander Salkind (Acting Director)
Simon Tannenbaum
Alexander Salkind (Acting Director)
Reuben Kaznelson (Acting Director)
Alexander Salkind (Acting Director)
Ephraim Michael Bluestone
Haim Yassky
Eli Davis
Kalman J. Mann (first Director General)
Samuel (Shmuel) Penchas
Avi Israeli
Shlomo Mor-Yosef
Ehud Kokia
until 2015
Tamar Peretz (Interim Director General)
Ze'ev Rotstein


87.75 Linear Feet (171 manuscript boxes, 1 half-manuscript box, and 3 oversized folders)


The Hadassah Medical Organization Records in the Hadassah Archives document Hadassah's work in providing health care resources in Palestine/Israel since 1918. The activities documented revolve around the development of the Hadassah Hospital; health centers; dental centers; occupational and rehabilitative services; medical, nursing, dental, and pharmacy schools; as well as numerous educative and preventive projects, especially those aimed at infant care. The documents also reflect the history of the Yishuv (Jewish settlement in Palestine) and the establishment of the State of Israel. The record group contains articles, clippings, correspondence, financial records, fundraising material, minutes, personal accounts, press releases, publicity material, reports, and statistical reports.

Physical Location

Located in AJHS New York, NY

Previous Finding Aids and Concordance

Two finding aids for this collection have been previously prepared. They have been superseded by this finding aid, but all contain historical information that may be of interest.

The printed finding aid from 1984 provides a wealth of information about the Hadassah Medical Organization and its records. It can be found here: Please note that the arrangement is no longer valid.

In 2009, the arrangement of the collection was altered slightly from the 1984 arrangement and an online finding aid was created. This finding aid is provided for reference only and can be found here: Please note that this arrangement is no longer valid.

The concordance links the former box and folder numbers from the 2009 finding aid to the current box and folder numbers in the 2015 finding aid. The concordance is provided for reference and can be used to track previous citations of material in the Hadassah Medical Organization Records in the Hadassah Archives (I-578/RG 2). The concordance can be found here:

Acquisition Information

The Hadassah Archives, of which the Hadassah Medical Organization Records (I-578/RG 2) are part of, are on long-term deposit at the American Jewish Historical Society.


The Hadassah Archives include a record group comprised of microfilm, RG 19—Microforms. Series I, Subseries 2 contains reels related to the Hadassah Medical Organization.

Related Material

The Guide to the Hadassah Archives on Long-term Deposit at the American Jewish Historical Society, which describes the entire collection, can found here:

Within the Hadassah Archives, Hadassah Medical Organization material can be found in the following record groups: RG 4—Zionist Political History Collection; RG 5—Hadassah Council in Israel and the Hadassah Youth Services Records; RG 13—Executive Functions Records; RG 15—Hadassah Functions and Operations Records; RG 17—Printed Materials and Publications; RG 18—Photographs; RG 19—Microforms; RG 20—Oral Histories; RG 21—Architectural Materials; RG 22—Artifacts and Memorabilia; and RG 25—Audio and Moving Images Materials.

The American Jewish Historical Society holds the following related collections: Schoolman Family Papers (P-716); Lt. Col. Rachel Diane (Rae) Landy Papers (P-785); E. Michael Bluestone Papers (P-362); Louis Arthur Ungar Papers (P-137); Adolph Hubbard Papers (P-647); Alpha Omega Collection (I-343).

The Hadassah Medical Organization website was captured by the Internet Archive Wayback Machine from 2003 to the present. The snapshots of the English version can be viewed here:*/ Please note that the Wayback Machine may not render the website exactly as it appeared on the live web at the time, and that AJHS has no control over how often the site was crawled or how it displays now.

Separated Material

Materials in certain formats were removed from RG 2 and placed into the following record groups: RG 18 Audiovisual Materials; RG 21 Architectural Materials; and RG 22 Artifacts and Memorabilia. Oversize material was separated and stored in oversize boxes. Folder-level notes connecting the items to their original folders and context were added when items were separated.

Processing Information

The Hadassah Medical Organization (HMO) records in the Hadassah archives were originally organized in the early 1980s by Ira Daly who worked for Hadassah as an Assistant Archivist. Hadassah had received a National Endowment for the Humanities grant to organize the HMO records and produce a comprehensive guide. The guide (or finding aid), The Hadassah Medical Organization papers in the Hadassah Archives, 1918-1981 was published in 1984.

In December 1999, Hadassah and the American Jewish Historical Society (AJHS) entered an agreement placing the Hadassah Archives on deposit at AJHS for its safekeeping and maintenance. In November 2000, the Hadassah Archives were moved to AJHS under the management of the Director of the Hadassah Archives, Susan Woodland. In 2009 Woodland and Assistant Archivist Margaret Bausman created a new finding aid, based on Daly's 1984 version, which incorporated additional HMO records into the collection. This addition comprised Series 67 and 68 of the 2009 finding aid. In 2014, under a new agreement between Hadassah and AJHS, the Hadassah Archives were placed on long-term deposit at AJHS.

In 2015, the Hadassah Medical Organization Records were intellectually rearranged and sixty-eight series were revised into seven series. Two addendum series (Series 67 and 68 from the 2009 finding aid), comprising unprocessed material, were incorporated into the new arrangement as was 2.5 linear feet of additional unprocessed material. Description from the previous finding aids was reused and/or revised and incorporated into the 2015 finding as much as possible, particularly collection-level description, though a chronology was added to the historical note. Series and subseries description was added and collection-level notes pertaining to acquisition, processing, access and use, separations, microfilm, preferred citation, previous finding aids and concordance, and related material were added as well. Many folder titles and dates were revised to be compliant with the archival descriptive standard, Describing Archives: A Content Standard (DACS).

Some folders in the addendum series (previously Series 68) were found to not contain material that the folder title indicated should be in the folder. This was dealt with in two ways; either the folder title was changed by the archivist to reflect the subject of the contents or the folder was divided into two or more folders with each folder receiving a title to reflect the subject of the contents. To follow these changes, please consult the concordance that is linked to this finding aid.

The boxes were consolidated to save space and reduce damage to the material (slumping) and most plastic paper clips were removed, thus freeing up twenty linear feet of shelf space. Box and folder numbers were renumbered to create uniform numbering across the entire record group and a concordance was created linking the previous box and folder numbers to the new numbers. Some boxes were replaced and many of the folders were also replaced.

Guide to the Hadassah Medical Organization Records in the Hadassah Archives, 1918-2011 I-578/RG 2
The finding aid was prepared by Patricia Glowinski in 2015. It is based upon two previous finding aids: a 2009 finding aid by Susan Woodland and Margaret Bausman, and the original finding aid, dating from 1984, by Ira Daly.
© 2012
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Description is in English.
as part of the Leon Levy Archival Processing Initiative, made possible by the Leon Levy Foundation

Revision Statements

  • TM-3/19/21: TM-ASpace cleanup

Repository Details

Part of the American Jewish Historical Society Repository

15 West 16th Street
New York NY 10011 United States