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Judith Steiner-Freud

b. 1919

by Nira Bartal

Judith Steiner-Freud was a prominent figure in nursing and among those who led the academization of the profession in Israel.

She was born in 1919 to a Zionist family in Brno, Czechoslovakia. Her father, Arthur Shimshon Steiner (1875–1938), was an engineer in the civil service and an amateur pianist. Her mother, Paula Esther Grosser (1894–Auschwitz 1944), was active in the Blau-Weiss youth movement and in the Women’s International Zionist Organization (WIZO). Steiner-Freud received a high-school education and also joined the Blau-Weiss. In 1933 she attended the Eighteenth Zionist Congress, which took place in Prague.

In December 1939 Steiner-Freud managed to obtain an immigration certificate to Palestine from the Hebrew University. Most of her family were killed in extermination camps.

From 1941 to 1944 Steiner-Freud studied at the Henrietta Szold Hadassah School of Nursing on Mount Scopus. She graduated with honors and was invited to teach at the school. About a year later, she married Eli Freud (b. 1914), who led the Israel Bach Association, conducted and played various musical instruments, mostly the organ, and performed throughout the world. The couple had a daughter, Esther (b. 1948), and a son, David Dov Shimshon (b. 1951).

In 1960, Steiner-Freud received her bachelor’s degree in education and sociology, and in 1972 her master’s degree in public health from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. She also took various supplementary training courses in the United States.

In 1953 she was appointed deputy director of the nursing school and as nursing teacher at the Hebrew University and Hadassah Medical School. From 1967 to 1983 Steiner-Freud directed the nursing school. From 1975 she also served as deputy dean of nursing in the medical faculty of Hadassah and the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, whose nursing school at that time received accreditation as an academic institution. This academic recognition was her most prominent accomplishment, the result of twenty years of strenuous effort. Hadassah’s program was basic, with a clinical emphasis. Its nursing school served as a model for other university schools that opened in the country, among them two branches of the Hadassah school: Assaf ha-Rofe School of Nursing in Zerifin and Kaplan School of Nursing in Rehovot.

Steiner-Freud believed that nurses should be trained at a high professional level that would allow them to be equal members of the treatment team in the various health-care settings. “The striving for academization derived from an educational, Israeli world-view,” she asserted, adding, “I believe that nursing as a profession has a very important function in creating an appropriate health-care system. Nursing will fulfill its function when it has the power and influence that come from knowledge, social involvement and reliability.”

Steiner-Freud participated in and supervised Hadassah’s nursing program for young women from Malawi, which operated in the 1960s, when Israel was aiding Africa. From 1983 to 1996 she was a lecturer at Hadassah’s nursing school, and from 1983 to 1985 she also lectured in the nursing department at Tel Aviv University.

After her retirement she re-opened the nursing school in Safed, which was intended to provide nurses for the Galilee. From 1984 to 1989 she served as its Health Ministry consultant.

Throughout her professional life, Steiner-Freud worked in clinical instruction, teaching, management and consulting for various nursing training schools. She was a member of various committees, including the committee of nursing school directors (1968–1983); the Health Ministry committee for determining the professional status of nurses from abroad (1975–1987); the advisory committee for nursing training institutions and Tel Aviv University’s nursing faculty; the Abu Sina nursing school in Ramallah; the Recanati school for health-care professions at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (1978–1981); and, from 1991, the committee of Sha’are Zedek’s Nursing School. She lectured at many conferences in Israel and throughout the world, including the University of California in San Francisco (1983), Germany (1984), Workshop on European Nursing for Research (Jerusalem, 1989) and the Nurses’ Association conference in the Czech Republic (1996). An active member of the Israel Nursing Association from 1967 to 1985, she represented Israel at conferences of the International Council of Nurses in 1977, 1979 and 1983 in Tokyo, Nairobi and Seoul.

Steiner-Freud conducted research on various subjects, sometimes collaborating with other researchers. Among her topics were the student-patient relationship, nursing in Israel, and a study of the work and retirement patterns of the Hadassah graduates. Steiner-Freud also wrote histories, including that of the Israel Nursing Association (with Rebecca Adams-Stockler); the biographies of members of the Hadassah School of Nursing’s first graduating class, and the academization of nursing.

Steiner-Freud ensured the funding and organization of the archives at the Hadassah School of Nursing, some of which are located at the Central Zionist Archive in Jerusalem.

Steiner-Freud is also active in public affairs, for example as a member of the boards of the Czechoslovakian Immigrants’ Society (beginning in 1977), the Blau-Weiss alumni group (1984–1992), and the Africa-Israel Friendship Association (from 1985).

In close contact with the Hadassah in the United States, Steiner-Freud was invited to lecture at its conferences, including that held in 1969 in New Orleans on the fiftieth anniversary of the school’s founding. She received numerous awards, among them Hadassah’s Outstanding Graduate prize in Baltimore in 1987 to mark the seventy-fifth anniversary of Hadassah’s founding, its Woman of Valor award in New York in 1992, and in 2000 Hadassah’s Distinguished Woman award in a ceremony held in the Knesset. In 1983 she received the Worthy of the Assaf ha-Rofe Nursing School Award and in 1998 was named a Worthy of the Hadassah School of Nursing. In 1986, she received the outstanding employee prize awarded by the director-general of the Ministry of Health.

In 1990 Steiner-Freud resumed organizing the Hadassah alumni and since then has served as the chairwoman of its activity, including the publication of its biannual alumni magazine. She remains a source of support and help to colleagues and students alike and continues to connect alumni with their alma mater, the Hadassah School of Nursing.

In January 2004 the Minister of Health, Dan Naveh, awarded her a citation for her life’s work.


Steiner-Freud, Judith. “Changes in Nurses’ Education” (Hebrew). The Nurse in Israel, 71, (December 1970): 22–24; Idem. “How Far Did Israel’s Nursing Education for Nurses from Africa Achieve Its Objectives?”. International Nursing Review 18:4 (1971): 315–325; Idem. “Changing Attitudes to Health and Illness: Effects on Nursing Practice.” International Nursing Review 25:5 (1978): 143–145; Idem. “Nursing in Israel.” In Quo Vadis, edited by Rachel Rotkovitz. Connecticut: 1982; Idem. “Personal and Social Factors Influencing the Professional Life Span of Nurses” (Hebrew). The Nurse in Israel 121 (1983): 21–23; Adams-Stockler Rebecca and Judith Steiner-Freud “History of the Israeli Nursing Association” (mimeographed), 1985: Idem. “Judith Freud (Steiner).” In Students’ Rescue by Aliyah. Edited by Sinai Leichter and Hayyim Milkov, 217–219 (Hebrew). Jerusalem: 1993; Freund-Rosenthal, Miriam, ed. “Steiner-Freud, Judith.” In A Tapestry of Hadassah Memories. North Carolina: 1994, 240–246; Bartal, Nira, and Judith Steiner-Freud. The First Graduating Class, Hadassah School of Nursing, 1921. Jerusalem: 1999; Steiner-Freud, Judith and Nira Bartal. “Trends Towards Academia in The Henrietta Szold School of Nursing in Jerusalem, 1921–1984: A Historical Investigation” (Hebrew). In The Nurse in Israel. Edited by Avishai Goldberg and Shifra Schwartz. Beersheba: forthcoming; Steiner-Freud, Judith. Interview with author. Jerusalem: 2003.

Judith Steiner-Freud
Full image

Judith Steiner-Freud, a graduate of the Henrietta Szold Hadassah School of Nursing, became the director of her alma mater, as well as Deputy Dean of nursing in the medical faculty of Hadassah and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and thus had an important influence on the development of nursing education and practice in Israel.

Courtesy of Judith Steiner-Freud

How to cite this page

Bartal, Nira. "Judith Steiner-Freud." Jewish Women: A Comprehensive Historical Encyclopedia. 1 March 2009. Jewish Women's Archive. (Viewed on January 18, 2017) <>.


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