Prof Michael (Micky) Weingarten : (1947-2018)

April, 2018

Micky Weingarten was Professor of Family Medicine at Tel Aviv University, a founder and Vice Dean of the Bar Ilan University Medical School in Safed and a leader in WONCA for two decades. As a family physician, academician, and researcher, Micky raised the profile of Family Medicine in Israel and its contributions to WONCA.

Micky was born in 1947 in London and met his future wife and lifelong partner, Sue, while studying at Oxford. The Weingartens immigrated to Israel in 1973, where he completed his Family Medicine residency. Micky joined the Sackler Faculty of Medicine at Tel Aviv University in 1976, where he became Chairman of both the Departments of Family Medicine and Behavioural Sciences. One of his main research areas was in the field of Bioethics, where he combined his deep religious faith and compassion for others with a modern liberal outlook on the sanctity of life. In the 1990s, Micky was elected President of the Israel Association of Family Physicians, Chair of Israel’s Family Medicine Research Network and Founding Editor of the Israel Journal of Family Medicine. In 2010, he received the Israeli Association of Family Physicians Award for Outstanding Lifetime Contribution to the profession.

Micky’s involvement in WONCA spanned two decades. In 1989, he was a keynote speaker at the WONCA World Conference in Jerusalem. He served as a member of the WONCA Medical Education Committee. From 2003 -2010 he served as Co-Chair of the WONCA Europe Region’s Ethics Committee. Micky attended his last Wonca meeting as a keynote speaker at the 2010 Wonca Europe Regional Conference in Spain.

Despite his national and international prominence, Micky would have chosen to be remembered for his clinical practice in Rosh HaAyin, one of the most disadvantaged neighbourhoods in the country, and home to Yemenite Jews who lived in poverty and struggled to adapt to their new Western way of life as refugees in the 1950s. Micky served as Rosh HaAyin Family Medicine Clinic Director from 1978 to 2011. He was loved and respected by his patients and community as a compassionate family doctor and founder of a charitable fund to ensure that all necessary medications and health services were provided. Micky focused his research on the Yemenite community and published a book, Changing Health and Changing Culture: The Yemenite Jews in Israel, which received widespread recognition.

In 2009, the Israeli government decided to open a new medical school in Northern Israel to improve health care to more than 1.3 million Israelis, roughly half of whom are Muslim and Christian Arabs, and the other half Orthodox and Secular Jews. Micky helped lead Bar Ilan University’s winning application. He and Sue moved to Safed where he led the medical school’s development as Vice Dean for Medical Education. He established the Departments of Family Medicine and Population Health, became the first Chair of the Social Accountability Committee, and recommended that his close friend and family physician colleague, Dr Bishara Bisharat from Nazareth, serve as its second Chair upon his retirement. He was a founding member of the Citizens' Health Forum in the Galilee, which advocates for improved health and social services across the region.

In 2016, he retired from the medical school and returned to his alma mater, Oxford, on sabbatical, to devote his time to writing about Bioethics and to be with his family in England. By this time, he knew he was seriously ill. In character, rather than bemoaning his circumstances, he encouraged others to see the remaining years as an opportunity to spend even more quality time together. On 23rd February 2018 he passed away in Jerusalem in the presence of his wife and family. Micky is survived by his wife, Sue, his five children, Nehama, Miri, Bitya, Amos and Milca, and 14 grandchildren. He was a “tsadik" – a righteous, compassionate person - a model of the WONCA family doctor who cares for all people, and is deeply missed by all who were blessed to know him.

Dr Marc Rivo, President, American Friends of Bar Ilan University, SE Region USA
Prof Mary Rudolf, Head of the Department of Population Health*
Dr Bishara Bisharat, Chair of the Social Accountability Committee*
Dr Sophia Eilat-Tsanani Head of the Department of Family Medicine*
Dr. Michal Shani, Chair of the Israel Association of Family Physicians

*Azrieli Faculty of Medicine in the Galil, Bar Ilan University, Israel