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Israelis You Should Know: Dr. Chaim Sheba

Dr. Chaim Sheba showing Eleanor Roosevelt around Sheba Medical Center (Photo: wikicommons/ארתור רוסמן)

Chaim Sheba

Lived: 1908-1971

Why you should know him: An Israeli physician, he also founded Sheba Medical Center

Chaim Sheba was born to a well-known Jewish family in what was at the time Austria-Hungary. While he studied at a religious school at an early age, he transferred to a secular school for eighth grade. Following in the footsteps of his grandfather, he studied medicine, earning his degree in Vienna in 1932. The next year, Dr. Sheba made aliyah (immigrated) to the Holy Land, where he would live the rest of his life.

Early on Sheba worked as a rural doctor. In 1942, he served with the Jewish Brigade, and joined the Haganah (the precursor to the IDF) in 1947. Once Israel gained her independence, Sheba commanded the IDF Medical Corps from 1948 to 1950, and became the country's Director General of the Ministry of Health after his time in the military.

In 1953, Dr. Sheba became the director of Tel HaShomer Hospital, which has since been renamed Chaim Sheba Medical Center in his honor. He also served as Professor of Medicine at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, was one of the founders of the Tel Aviv University Medical School, and helped establish medical schools in Jerusalem and Haifa. In 1968, Dr. Sheba was awarded the Israel Prize in medicine.

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