Chaim Sheba

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Chaim Sheba, 1948
Chaim Sheba (right) escorts Eleanor Roosevelt during her visit to Sheba Medical Center

Chaim Sheba (Hebrew: חיים שיבא‎‎; born 1908, died 10 July 1971) was an Israeli physician, notable for being the founder of Sheba Medical Center.


Sheba was born as Chaim Scheiber in 1908 in Frasin, near Gurahumora, Bukovina, then in Austria-Hungary (now in Suceava County, Romania), to the well known Scheiber Hasidic family, a descendant of the Hasidic house of Ruzhin. He was enrolled as a young child in a school for religious studies only. He transferred from there directly to the eighth grade in a secular school, which he successfully completed. Influenced by his grandfather, he began medical studies in Cernăuți and completed such studies in Vienna in December 1932. In the beginning of 1933, Sheba emigrated to Mandate Palestine. Until 1936, he served as rural doctor and later in Beilinson Hospital.

In 1942, Sheba joined the Jewish Brigade as a doctor, joining the Haganah in 1947. From 1948 to 1950, he commanded the Medical Corps of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), and became Director General of the Ministry of Health after leaving the IDF. He fulfilled this position until 1953, when he moved on to become the director of the Tel HaShomer Hospital (today Chaim Sheba Medical Center, named in his honor).[1]

In addition, from 1949 Sheba served as Professor of Medicine at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He was one of the founders of the Tel Aviv University Medical School and served as a Vice-President of that University. He also helped to establish medical schools in Jerusalem and in Haifa.

During his tenure as Director General, Sheba was responsible for managing the tinea capitis outbreak. The standard treatment at the time involved X-raying the head area. This treatment was eventually discovered to be harmful, and the event became a source of controversy.

Sheba died in 1971 from a heart attack.


In 1968, Sheba was awarded the Israel Prize, in medicine.[2]


  1. ^ Ro'i, Nathan (1982). "Liet. Col. (Res.) Dr. Chaim Sheba". IDF in Its Corps: Army and Security Encyclopedia (in Hebrew). Volume 12. Revivim Publishing. p. 107. 
  2. ^ "Israel Prize Official Site - Recipients in 1968 (in Hebrew)". Archived from the original on 2012-03-07. 

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