Today - 87 Years Ago

History: The murder of the nurses that shocked Tel Aviv

Today 87 years ago, Nechama Tzedek and Miriam Fink, nurses at the Jaffa Hospital, were murdered. The murder shocked the entire Jewish community, as it broke the unwritten rule - do not harm medical personnel

(Photo: Dr. Avishai Teicher/Wikimedia)

Nechama Tzedek was born in Alexandria, Egypt to Bella and Israel Dov, a nationalist and Zionist family. The Tzedek family moved to Egypt to avoid being drafted into the Turkish army. After the war, when Nechama was one year old, the Tzedek family returned to Israel and settled in Neve Shalom in Tel Aviv and later became one of the founders of Ramat Gan.

Nechama's parents made a living with great difficulty. At a young age, Nechama went to study a useful profession, nursing. She was accepted as an intern at the government hospital for infectious diseases in Jaffa. Nechama persevered in her studies and despite the many difficulties she met the task and almost became a qualified nurse.

Miriam Fink was born in Austria, and grew up in a supportive environment, and despite studying in a high school among the Gentiles, she kept her Jewishness. While still young, she trained herself in a nursery school in preparation for her arrival as a pioneer to the Land of Israel. In 1934, she immigrated to Israel and faced quite a few difficulties. For three months she waited in Egypt before the locked gates of the country.

Loyalty to the patients outweighed the concerns

When she arrived in Israel, she initially tried to be accepted into the labor farm in Ness Ziona and was rejected. After that, she was accepted into the labor farm in Hadera. Finally she chose a profession where she could help people and she also chose nursing. For a year and a half, Miriam studied at the Hadassah hospital in Tel Aviv and then moved to the hospital in Jaffa.

When the events of 5696-5699 (1936-1939) broke out, a wild incitement began in the Arab press against the Jewish nurses in the Jaffa hospital and a demand to remove them from there. On the 28th day of Av 5696 (16.8.36) Nechama arrived for a short vacation at her parents' home in Ramat Gan and expressed her concerns about returning to Jaffa, but her loyalty to the patients outweighed her concerns.

The next day, on the 29th of Av (17.8), Nechama and Miriam came to work at the hospital for the night shift. An Arab who was waiting for them near the entrance gate blocked their path and opened fire on them. Miriam was killed immediately, and Nechama was seriously injured and died a short time later. Throughout this time, Nechama expressed concern for her friend and requested that nothing be said to her parents.

"Great is the abomination and terrible is the crime that your neighbors have committed"

The murder of the nurses shocked the entire settlement, as it broke the unwritten rule that medical personnel should not be harmed. Among the many who participated in the funerals processions were the heads of government medicine and the district commander, led by a company of policemen, and all the shops were closed as a sign of mourning. The municipality of Tel Aviv issued a painful and restrained statement of mourning: "Tel Aviv is in mourning! Great is the abomination and terrible is the crime that your neighbors have committed... With calculated actions we will foil the plot of the murderers! With discipline and order we will stand the test! With the weapons of building and creativity we will win!"

In memory of the nurses, the street near the place of the murder was called "Shderat HaAhayot" ("Nurses Avenue"). And in memory of Nechama, the street near her parents' house in Ramat Gan is named "Shderat HaAhot Nechama" ("Nurse Nechama Avenue").

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