Creating Israel’s National Diet

Sarah Bavly, learn about Holy Land nutrition and Israel's national diet

Credit:Jewish Women's Archive

Holy Land Nutrition

Zdenka Samish

(March 13, 1904 – March 8, 2008)

Born to a Jewish family in Prague, Zdenka Kohn took part in the Zionist youth movement before making aliyah (immigrating) to what was then still British-mandate Palestine in 1920. There, she met and married Moshe Rudolf Samish, also a Czech Jew, and the two then headed to California to study. There, Zdenka received her degree in household science.

In 1934, Zdenka and her husband returned to the Holy Land, where she first worked as a chemist at a fruit canning factory. Soon, she was director of a laboratory canning fruits and vegetables and began teaching food technology at the new state of Israel’s Hebrew University in 1949 which would later become part of the foundation of today’s Holy Land nutrition.

Much of Zdenka’s research and work was done on the fruits of Israel. Her methods for developing citrus juices and concentrates were recognized by the government, and the United States granted her a patent for fruit leather.

Other important work that she pioneered included studying microorganisms in fruit and vegetable pulp; techniques for the production of olive oil, tomato paste, potatoes, and peaches; and the freezing and dehydrating of vegetables. Her research on “floaters” (the cucumbers that float instead of singing in pickling brine) was very important, as well.

Zdenka’s work was honored both as a Worthy Agricultural Researcher, as well as a Worthy Citizen of the City of Rehovot.

Zdenka and Moshe, who was also a noted agricultural researcher and professor, were married until his death in 1975, and had two sons. She passed away just days before her 104th birthday, but not before living a long life.

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

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