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Olga Belkind-Hankin

Although Olga Belkind-Hankin was a formidable pioneer and midwife in Palestine, her most visible legacy remains the land she helped her husband buy, which formed the basis of many of the first settlements. Belkind-Hankin studied midwifery in St. Petersburg and lived for a time with her brother and sister, making their home a haven for Zionists, revolutionaries, and women pregnant out of wedlock. After her siblings moved to Palestine in 1882, Belkind-Hankin visited them in 1886 and ended up staying and marrying Yehoshua Hankin, an aspiring real estate agent twelve years her junior, in 1888. Yehoshua’s business floundered, but Belkind-Hankin’s flourished—she delivered Jewish and Arab babies throughout the country, travelling by donkey with a whip to defend herself. Through her contacts, she helped Yehoshua make his first land deal in 1890 for what became the moshavah of Rehovot. She continued to help him make contacts in good times and pay his debts in lean years, continuing her own midwifery practice, and when he, like many Jewish men, was imprisoned by the Turks and exiled to Anatolia during WWI, she followed him into exile. After the couple returned in 1918, she retired. When she died, Yehoshua buried her in the Jezreel Valley beside settlements they had helped create.

Topics: Palestine, Medicine

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From her arrival in Palestine in 1886, midwife Olga Belkind-Henkin (1852-1943)—who never had children of her own—delivered babies, while helping her husband to purchase land for Jews who wish to settle the Land of Israel. Despite her critical assistance in his land procurement activities, Israel today has numerous "Yehoshua Henkin" streets, while his wife's name has faded into oblivion.

Institution: Tamar Eshel.

Date of Birth


Date of Death

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Olga Belkind-Hankin." (Viewed on December 10, 2019) <https://jwa.org/people/belkind-hankin-olga>.


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