Creating Israel’s National Diet

Creating Israel’s National Diet

Credit:Jewish Women's Archive

Sarah Bavly


Born to a Jewish family in Amsterdam, Sarah Bavly earned her M.S. in chemistry before making aliyah (immigrating to the Holy Land), in hopes of bringing her specialties in nutrition and economics to the Jewish people who, at that time, still lived in what was British-mandate Palestine.

First teaching nutrition and chemistry to young women on a moshav in Nahalal, Sarah then moved to work as the dietitian at Hadassah hospital in Tel Aviv in 1927. She also taught nutrition and dietetics at the Hadassah Nursing School in Jerusalem, the first teacher of these subjects in the Holy land.

In 1928, Sarah took the position of chief dietitian for all five Hadassah hospitals (in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Haifa, Safed, and Tiberias). This included setting up and managing dietary departments at each hospital, after she spent time studying similar departments in the U.S.

Returning to the Holy Land in 1929, Sarah and others were forced to take shelter during the 1929 Palestine Riots. This was the first time — but not the last by any means — Sarah supervised the provision of food for immigrants and soldiers during an emergency situation in Israel.

The next year, Sarah became director of the hospital’s school lunch program and supervised nutrition education programs for the general public in Israel. She called for the creation of a “national diet” that combined local food sources with scientific data. This encouraged new olim (immigrants to Israel) to adapt to the new foods grown in the Holy Land.

In the following years, she founded and directed Israel’s Institute of Nutrition Education, served as head of the Ministry of Education and Culture’s Nutrition Department, and founded the College of Nutrition and Home Economics in Jerusalem.

After retiring, Sarah continued to do research that helped Israel’s national health. She also made pottery, which was recognized by the Jerusalem House of Design, and raised two children with her husband, Dr. Yehuda Meir Bromberg. Sarah Bavly passed away in 1993, but will always be remembered for bringing health and nutrition to the modern state of Israel.

Tags: Health History Israel Israelis You Should Know Nutrition Sarah Bavly

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