Harav Shmuel Salant and Sir Moshe Montefiore first founded the Bikur Cholim hospital in a residential building of the Armenian Quarter of the
in 1859. Drugs and
equipment (items that were scarce or non-existent under the Ottoman Empire)
were supplied from Old
City Europe by Sir Moshe. It
started with 12 beds and greatly helped the situation in the terrible 1866
cholera outbreak in ,
in which hundreds of people died. (This hospital in the Jerusalem Old City
continued to treat the chronically ill until 1947.)
Each sector of the Jewish community had its own hospital. The Perushim hospital was Shaare Zedek (founded in 1903), while the Sephardim had Misgav Ladach, and the Chassidim’s hospital was Bikur Cholim.
By 1907, hospitalizations in Bikur Cholim in the
exceeded Old City 1,000 a year and it was
decided to build a new hospital outside the walls. The new location was at the
corner of 53 Hanevi’im Street
and Chancellor Avenue,
today known as Strauss Street.
The cornerstone was laid in 1912, but due to the outbreak of World War I
construction was delayed. Building works continued until 1925. Architect Zvi
Joseph Barsky designed the building in the neo-classical style with modernist elements
(simplicity and clarity of form).
Bikur Cholim’s location in downtown
paramount importance in times of emergency such as following the 1929 and 1936
Arab riots, the 1948 war, and the terror attacks by suicide bombers in more
recent years. In these episodes, when time was of the essence, Bikur Cholim’s proximity was able to save the lives of many victims. Jerusalem
During the Mandate period, Jewish underground fighters were hospitalized here, under fabricated names to keep the British police from discovering them.
Although during the War of Independence, the Bikur Cholim hospital came under artillery fire from
Jordanian guns, evacuated patients from the
hospital were transferred to there. Each day of the war, Rav Aryeh Levin would
come to Bikur Cholim to see who had been killed, so he could testify to their death
and save their wives from becoming agunos. Mount Scopus
Initially, due to the lack of funds, only two floors of the hospital were built. Later a third floor was added, and an additional building was built closer to Yaffo
Street which became the school for nurses.
For many years, the Bikur Cholim hospital has been experiencing financial difficulties. It was bought this year by
As of December 2012, the hospital, which includes the maternity ward, continues
to function as a branch of Shaare Zedek. What was once the emergency room is today
a branch of Terem, the organization for emergency medical care. Shaare Zedek
In the 1920s, Ze’ev Raban, an exceptional artist and a teacher at the
designed the three sets of impressive bronze hospital doors facing Bezalel Academy Strauss Street. The
metal etchings on the doors represent the symbols of the Twelve Tribes and also
feature animals and the fruits and flora of Eretz Yisrael. Above the doors are
three pesukim from Yeshayahu. The rising sun represents
the tribe of Reuven, as they lived in Eiver laYarden in “Mizrach Shemesh.” Shimon and Levi are featured together,
shaking hands. A jug, probably of oil, symbolizing the
Chashmona’im, stands behind the clasped hands.
The Maternity Wing
The building on the opposite corner (47-51 Hanevi’im), facing Bikur Cholim’s main building, was originally a German hospital, designed by Conrad Schick and built by Christian nuns in 1892. The building is reminiscent of the Schneller Compound and was built as a classic German public building, with finely designed balconies and a small bell tower. Above the entrance is engraved a dove holding an olive leaf in its beak; beneath it was writing that was rubbed out.
Until 1948 this hospital serviced mostly Arabs, who called it Mustafaz (Hospital) Elmegedah. The cost of treatment was minimal. After the War of Independence, even though
was declared a demilitarized enclave, the operation of the hospital became
impossible. Mount Scopus
From 1948-1961 Hadassah Hospital operated in rented quarters in five different locations in
, one of which was this German nun
hospital. (The nursing school was on the grounds of the building adjacent to
the hotel which is a French church that even today flies a French flag). Jerusalem
In 1961, Hadassah moved to a new medical complex that was built in Ein Kerem in southwest
. In the 1970s, the German nun
hospital building was taken over by Bikur Cholim and became the celebrated maternity
The sale of high-rise luxury apartments that has taken over
can also be seen on Jerusalem Hanevi’im Street.
Now, a tall, beautiful building of glass-fenced balconies bearing a large “For Sale” sign stands at 43 Hanevi’im where the Yad Sarah train coach used to be. The gemach was founded in the 1970s by Rabbi Uri Lupolianski and named after his
grandmother, Sarah Lupoliansky, who perished during the Holocaust. Today Yad
Sarah’s six-story headquarters and central warehouse
on Jerusalem Herzl Boulevard
occupies a full city block. Yad Sarah raises 92 percent of its operating budget