Books About Jews Who Make Us Proud – “Jews in Medicine”

Dinah Rokach ● Young Israel Shomrai Emunah of Greater Washington (Rosh Hashanaha Hashomer bulletin)

Follow the history of Jews in the Holy Land beginning in Talmudic times and through the Diaspora and to the State of Israel as you learn and take pride in the accomplishments of Jewish doctors throughout the ages. Read short biographies, most of them accompanied by black-and-white photographs and illustrations, that will inspire and make you proud.

The chapters are arranged chronologically. Preceding the individual listings is a short history of the political events of that specific place and time. Explore how Jewish lives — especially those of professionals, doctors and scholars — were impacted by the nature of the government under which they resided. Examine the Jewish contributions during the modern medical era of specialization in the fields of basic science — such as bacteriology, biochemistry, genetics and immunology — and seventeen fields of clinical medicine ranging from cardiology to virology. A few doctor jokes are sprinkled in for levity.

Read about the persecution of our ancestors and the harrowing circumstances of their existence in countries ruled by anti-Semites. Understand how those eminent Jewish doctors who attained leading positions, many as court physicians, were able to plead on behalf of the Jewish people and keep them from harm. Read the heart-wrenching stories of those esteemed professionals who were forced from their established homes to search as refugees for more welcome destinations. Those who gave their lives al kiddush Hashem are remembered as well.

The author, Dr. Ronald Eisenberg, a radiologist at Boston’s Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Professor of Radiology at Harvard Medical School, holds a PhD in Jewish Studies. His writing is lucid and includes much historical information that will be eye-opening. Entries do not include living physicians with the exception of those awarded the Nobel Prize, Lasker Prize and other prestigious honors.

You’re sure to learn many fascinating facts about the diverse cultures and the differing conditions under which Jews lived through the centuries. Follow the historical progress in medical practice and therapeutic interventions to alleviate, diagnose and prevent sickness. Before the modern era, doctors were also active in other sciences, such as astronomy. They served as translators who brought the culturally advanced scientific works in Arabic to the attention of the European scientific community just awakening from the Dark Ages.

Did you know the poet Yehuda Halevi was a doctor? That celestial charts and improved navigational aids by a Jewish doctor-cartographer accompanied Christopher Columbus and Vasco da Gama on their voyages of discovery? The first openly practicing Jew in Maryland was a physician who settled here in 1656? Dr. Henry Judah Heimlich, famous for the Heimlich maneuver, is renowned professionally for the Heimlich valve, 250,000 of which are used worldwide annually? Find out what that is. Those of Sephardi heritage are sure to enjoy reading about the many accomplished physicians in Spain, Portugal, the Ottoman Empire, Italy and the many places far and wide where conversos and those exiled by the Inquisition fled.

Whether you’re a doctor, an aspiring physician or a patient, you’ll enjoy reading this beautifully formatted book. It was make a thoughtful gift for a young person considering a career in medicine.

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