Shulamith Cantor, who was born Frieda Jedid Halevi in Beirut in 1894, had a passion for nursing that would have a significant impact on the history of healthcare in the land of Israel. Cantor came to British Mandate Palestine in 1919, against her family’s wishes. Since she had graduated with honors from the nursing department of the American University in Beirut, Cantor was accepted as a teacher at the recently opened nursing school of the American Zionist Medical Unit (AZMU, created by Hadassah).
In 1921, Cantor married Louis Cantor and resigned her position. She returned to nursing only after the sudden loss of her husband in 1933, when she became the sole provider for her four children. In October of 1934, Cantor became the director of the school of nursing and the head nurse at Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem. She handed over the latter position in 1939 to a successor and began to reorganize and reinvent the nursing school. Cantor updated the curriculum and created specialized courses for midwives and nurses working in operating rooms. After Israel became a state, Cantor worked for the new Ministry of Health until 1955. She then continued to teach and also served as an advisor to several medical care organizations.
Shulamith Cantor passed away in December 1979.
Today, May 12, 2016, is both International Nurses Day and Israel’s Independence Day.
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