Hadassah Health Guidelines, Twentieth Century
This poster, from the early twentieth century, calls on the residents of Jerusalem to adopt a healthier lifestyle in honour of the New Year.
In the background there is a red Star of David, today known as the symbol for Magen David Adom (MDA), the Israeli emergency services organisation. It seems that this was already a recognized medical symbol, even before MDA was a functioning organisation.
The language of the poster was clearly aiming at the mainly traditional residents of Jerusalem of that time. The title is a play on the words of the traditional Rosh Hashana (New Year) greeting: “This year with its curses shall end, and a new year with its blessings shall begin.” Similarly, the format of the poster mimics the Ten Commandments, and the message at the bottom of the poster reflects biblical language; the phrase “if you walk in my ways” is a quote from Leviticus (26:13). Aside from appealing to its audience, the religious nature of the poster may also have be an attempt to equate physical health with religious and spiritual health.
Although the poster is not dated, it is likely to have been published in the early twentieth century because it refers to diseases borne by flies, such as malaria, that were prevalent at that time. This poster was produced by the doctors from the “Hadassah sanitary delegation.” This may refer to the American Zionist Medical Unit (AZMU), a group of forty-five doctors and nurses who were sent to Palestine in 1918 to encourage sanitation and health. Ultimately, this unit evolved into the Hadassah Medical Organization, which today comprises two major hospitals.
Henrietta Szold founded the Hadassah women's organisation in 1912. The organisation was named Hadassah, because the organisation was founded around the time of Purim and its name commemorates the Hebrew name of Esther, the heroine of the Purim story.
Hadassah was founded in order to raise funds for medical care in Israel where there was, at the time, a very high rate of disease and a lack of necessary funds for treatment. In addition to providing medical assistance, the organisation became involved in other fields as needs arose: Youth Aliyah, the alleviation of poverty, and education. Hadassah was the first organisation to provide emergency care for mothers and infants.
Read this for more information about the history of Hadassah.
Teachers of Jewish History could use this resource when talking about the difficulties that faced the Yishuv (the pre-state Jewish population in Israel) in the early twentieth century and how they dealt with them.
Jewish Studies teachers could use this as an example of a blessing for the New Year.
Teachers of the National Health Curriculum/Social Studies could use this when discussing the importance of hygiene in preventing disease, particularly when celebrating World Health Day.
This poster could also be used in discussions about the relations between the Diaspora and Israel to demonstrate the role of Diaspora philanthropic organisations in the promotion of health and welfare in Israel.
What was the purpose of this poster?
For what event was it published?
Who published this poster?
Who were the doctors of the Hadassah sanitary delegation?
What symbol can you see on this poster?
Does this symbol have any other significance?
Why do you think the publishers chose to write the poster in the format of the Ten Commandments?
On reading the commandments, what do you think they saw as the main principles for keeping healthy?
Why do you think these topics were chosen?
Read here about one of the diseases that affected the Yishuv.
How is this connected to the commandments written here?
Is treatment of this disease different today from in the past?
What was the purpose of covering water cisterns, toilets, and food?
What do all these things have in common?
Divide the commandments into three categories—hygiene, prevention of disease, and nutrition—and explain your categorization.
This poster is an example of one way in which the Yishuv attempted to deal with disease in Jerusalem.
What were some other ways?
Write your own Ten Commandments for modern-day healthy living.
At the top of the poster, it is written: “The best present for the New Year is health.”
Do you agree with this sentence? Why?
Complete the following sentence: “The best present for the New Year is _______.”
May this year end well and with it all illnesses
This is a blessing for the New Year from the doctors of the “Hadassah” sanitary delegation to the residents of Jerusalem, because the best present for the New Year is: health. A new year, new life, and a new era are beginning – and with them, a life of health.
Take care of yourselves and your health by fulfilling these “Ten Commandments”:
A) Clean, fresh air should be circulating in your houses, courtyards, and streets.
B) Your rubbish should be placed in special sealed containers.
C) The rubbish should be taken out of your homes so that the street cleaners can collect it daily.
D) Rubbish that can be burnt should be burnt.
E) The toilets should be clean and covered to protect from disease-carrying insects.
F) Do not drink water from cisterns, only boiled water. You are advised to drink the spring water brought to Jerusalem by the government.
G) Your water cisterns should be covered in order to prevent malaria-carrying mosquitoes.
H) Your food should be healthy and kept well covered to protect it from flies which could endanger your health.
I) Fruit and vegetables should always be washed in hot water; avoid and be warned from eating uncooked vegetables.
J) Fruit and vegetable sellers: protect your produce from dust and flies.
The doctors of the “Hadassah” sanitary delegation hope that if you will walk in these ways, the New Year will be a year of health for Jerusalem.
Hadassah circulated this poster in Jerusalem neighbourhoods in honour of the New Year. It details ten rules for a healthy life.