Tracing the Footsteps of a Founder

Dr. Moshe Beilinson

The Beilenson family has a most interesting three-generation history with the Beilinson campus of the Rabin Medical Center. My husband, Tony Beilenson, is a double cousin of Dr. Moshe Beilinson for whom the Beilinson Hospital - now a part of the Rabin Medical Center - was named. Tony's parents were both Moshe Beilinson's first cousins and our family has always felt a close connection to his legacy.

Moshe, who was born in Russia in 1890, was an early Zionist and a leader of the early pioneers in Israel. He was a physician, a journalist and a philosopher. He was a leader of the Israeli Labour Movement and the architect of its health services. When its first medical center for the Sick Fund was built, it was named for Moshe who died in 1936, just weeks after its dedication.

The next generation involved my husband's career. Tony served as a Congressman in the U.S. Congress for 20 years from the state of Cailfornia. Prior to his service in Washington, D.C., he was a state senator serving at the State Capitol in Sacramento. One day a distinguished visitor arrived from Israel to confer with the governor of the state and some leading legislators. It was Yitzhak Rabin, then Israel's Ambassador to the United States. When he was introduced to the senators, he noted Tony's name and told him that it was a renowned and much admired name in Israel. When Tony told him of his family's relationship to Moshe, Rabin's face brightened and he said, "Then I have a story to tell you. When I was a boy, my mother, who was the political activist in our family, took me to hear Moshe Beilinson give one of his speeches. She told me to be very quiet and to listen carefully as this was a very wise and just man who spoke about life and the future we could have as a country. I listened carefully and later read his writings; he has always been an inspiration for me." How fitting that these two great men - one who helped inspire the other - will forever have their names joined together at this great medical center.

During Tony's tenure in Congress, we went to Israel often and visited the then Beilinson Hospital early on. I later became one of the founding members of American Friends of Rabin Medical Center and worked closely with Dr. Dan Oppenheim. Today, Tony and I both serve on AFRMC's Honorary Board of Directors.

This brings us to the third generation. On a visit to Israel this May, it was my pleasure to bring our son, Dr. Peter Beilenson, to meet Dr. Oppenheim and see the Rabin Medical Center. Peter is a public health physician and was the long-time Health Commissioner of the city of Baltimore, Maryland. He is the first Beilinson in our line of the family since Moshe to become a doctor and is actually the same kind of physician as he - looking after the public health of his people. He also carries the leadership gene in our family and is running for the U.S. Congress this year from Baltimore.

During our tour of the Center, I saw the remarkable transformation of the hospital my husband and I first saw 20 years ago into the premier medical center it has now become under the inspired leadership of Dr. Oppenheim. Dr. Oppenheim briefed Peter on the workings of the Center and its place in Israel's healthcare system. A leading public health official in the U.S., Peter saw how this institution provides the highest level of medical care in an environment both comforting and hopeful to patients, uses the most advanced medical equipment, conducts notable research, and provides the newest technology available - all housed in architecturally state of the art buildings. I was impressed to see that Rabin Medical Center houses the country's largest and most sophisticated women's health facility and information center - and remembered Nava Barak's heroic efforts to bring this project to fruition.

Since our return to the U.S., Peter and I have spoken often to others of our moving experience in seeing what Dr. Oppenheim and the Center's supporters have accomplished at Rabin Medical Center and of the exciting plans for an even greater future. I was so proud to have Peter see the fruits of our family's roots in Israel - it was a wonderful and heartwarming experience for us.

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