Even progressive societies place barriers in the way of women’s empowerment. 

However, some societies are truly liberating.  One of them is Hadassah Hospital where equality is not an aspiration but a lived reality.  Just ask Dr Tamar Elram.

Dr Elram is the first woman to head a major hospital in Israel. She runs the Mount Scopus hospital precinct, the older of the two campuses that comprise the Hadassah Medical Organization. It can trace its roots to Henrietta Szold whose vision for westernized medicine in Israel came to define healthcare in the Middle East from the very early years of the 20th century.

Dr Elram at Hadassah Mt Scopus.

Given the historic role of women in the creation and development of Hadassah Hospital - through the New York-based HWZOA - it’s not surprising they have a safe and nurturing environment in which to deliver on the dreams of its founder.

It’s with a great deal of pride that we acknowledge the naming of Dr Elram as one of two Women of the Year of the women’s national religious Zionist movement, Emunah. She was chosen for her leadership and outstanding work at Hadassah Hospital and her extraordinary ability to combine work and home life with five children.

“Tamar is a trail-blazer for women in Israel and specifically in the area of healthcare,” says Ruth Ramone Rosen, Executive Director of Hadassah Australia.

“She is literally working at the coalface of the pandemic in Israel, but continues to model best practice as an administrator, doctor, mother, wife and friend.”

The selection was made to coincide with International Women’s Day 2021.

The selection committee said that in the year of the pandemic, “there’s a great shining light in the form of an inspirational professional religious woman who is also an exemplary family woman.”

Dr. Elram is a graduate of the Hebrew University Hadassah Medical School , with a master’s degree in public administration from Harvard University. A mother of five children, she says “Unless I absolutely have to, I don’t answer phone calls or e-mails from work once I get home. If I’m on a work call while driving home, I’ll sit for even 20 minutes in my car to finish the conversation before I walk into my house. When you separate your work life from your home life, you can be fully present in both.”

Apart from managing the public hospital in Jerusalem, a position she has held for the last three years, she remains close to clinical practice and regularly sees women at her Maale-Edumim clinic.

Dr Elram has progressed the development plans for the hospital and intends to triple its size within a decade. She also initiated an innovative spiritual and self-realisation program for employees at the hospital.

She will shortly publish her first book of poetry, ‘The diary of a (female) doctor’.

Tamar dedicated the honour to her late grandmothers, Claire Pfeffer and Minnie Cohen, “who were an inspiration for me throughout my childhood and much of my adult life. Both were active Emunah volunteers in England and later in Israel after they made Aliya.”

And in another accolade, Dr Elram was recently placed 30 in the top 50 of the most influential Israelis by Hebrew-language newspaper, Makor Rishon. It declared: “There’s almost no glass ceiling that Director of Hadassah Mt Scopus, Dr Tamar Elram hasn’t succeeded in breaking. And all just to prove to herself and everyone else that women can have a high-flying career at the same time as raising five children.”