First Nurses Graduate in the Land of Israel
December 7, 1921
Twenty-two women graduate from the Nurses’ Training Institute at Rothschild Hospital in Jerusalem, the first to receive nursing degrees in the Land of Israel. In 1918, Hadassah had opened the Nurses’ Training Institute, Palestine’s first professional school for women. The school was a major innovation in the Eastern world at a time where there were few opportunities for women, and this at a time when health needs were great in the Land of Israel. The Nurses’ Training Institute created exceptional standards for its students and attracted a large number of applicants. The accepted students represented the diversity of the Yishuv at the time, including both immigrant and native born women. An August 1940 issue of the American Journal of Nursing noted that to that point, 276 women had received nursing degrees from the Institute.
Addressing the graduates, the school’s founder Henrietta Szold remarked, “”What do I ask of you on this solemn occasion? That you strive to reach the high ideal set before you by your noble profession. And on this joyous occasion what wishes do I send after you on the path on which your feet are set? That you approach the ideal so closely that those who follow may look up to you as models, at once ‘trained nurses’ and ‘Sisters of Mercy’-that combination of the strong and the sweet, of intellect and sentiment, of knowledge and sympathy, which is the finest flower of human culture.”
The diplomas were distributed by Lady Beatrice Samuel, wife of the British High Commissioner, Herbert Samuel.
The graduates were sent to work in Hadassah run hospitals in Jaffa, Jerusalem, Safed, Tiberias and Haifa. Many would become leaders in the nursing and medical profession in Israel, well before the establishment of the State in 1948.
Photo Credits: Henrietta Szold (center) poses with the first nursing graduates in the Land of Israel.