Dr. David Applebaum and his daughter Nava, murdered in the
terrorist attack on a Jerusalem cafe last week, were buried
on the day her wedding was scheduled, one of the most tragic
stories the city has known during the terrorist attacks of
the past few years.
Dr. David Applebaum Hy'd, director of the emergency
room at Shaarei Tzedek, the man who has seen hundreds of
injury victims from bomb attacks, was in the coffeehouse when
the terrorist arrived. He was sitting with his 20-year-old
daughter Nava, on the night before her wedding. Friends said
that he rarely went to such places, but made an exception to
spend time with his daughter the night before her wedding.
Eli Bir, chief of Hatzolo Jerusalem, arrived at the scene
minutes after the explosion. "I saw the people who were lying
there at the entrance to the restaurant," he later related
with difficulty. "There was great commotion all around. I
approached the first person lying mangled on the ground in
front of me to treat him and saw that he already had no
pulse. A doctor standing nearby shouted toward me, `He's
dead, keep going.' I glanced back at him and saw a familiar
face. I thought to myself, `That's Dr. Applebaum?!' And then
I said, `No, it can't be. He's at Shaarei Tzedek right now,
saving people's lives.' Then I continued on, helping treat
"A few minutes later, once the victims had been evacuated
from the scene, I went up to the Magen David Adom doctor who
pronounced him dead and asked if that had been Dr. Applebaum.
With tears in his eyes he said yes. Even now I can't believe
it. A man who saved so many lives during his short lifetime
was murdered in such a way, and what's more just a day before
the wedding of his daughter, who was murdered as well. For me
that was the hardest thing about this incident." The
physician who pronounced Dr. Applebaum dead was Dr. Yitzchak
Glick of Efrat, a good friend of the deceased.
Eli Bir was not the only one deeply affected. Every Hatzoloh
or Magen David Adom volunteer or Shaarei Tzedek emergency-
room worker knew Dr. Applebaum. Soon after the attack, word
began to circulate around the emergency room that its
director was among those killed. His absence from the
emergency room helped confirm the rumor since he was always
on hand to help treat the wounded following terrorist
attacks. Not only the injured who arrived at Shaarei Tzedek
were crying, but the staff as well. Nevertheless they treated
the trauma patients with their usual dedication.
Dr. Applebaum's son recounts that he went to sleep early so
he would be well-rested at the wedding. "All of a sudden I
heard ambulances. I had a bad feeling. I ran to the site of
the attack and didn't find them. I went to the hospital
because I felt my father would know what happened. He always
knew." The rest of the family also arrived at the emergency
room, but did not find him there. Or his daughter. The groom-
to-be passed out when he heard the news.
Dr. Applebaum Hy'd was an observant Jew. He was the
gabbai of the beis knesses in the neighborhood
where he lived. The day before the attack he returned from
New York, after delivering a series of lectures about how the
emergency room at Shaarei Tzedek organizes itself to deal
with terror attacks.
Dr. Applebaum was one of Israel's leading experts on
emergency medicine. He worked at Shaarei Tzedek for many
years and more than ten years ago he set up TEREM, a sort of
preliminary emergency room, at Magen David Adom's Jerusalem
Noting that the capital's MDA station was poorly run and that
people usually had to wait hours for care, he decided to set
up a privately owned model for care in the community. With
investors, he bought a section of the MDA station and
established Terem in Romema.
He proved that treating those with broken arms, irregular
heart beats, infections, and other urgent but not necessarily
serious conditions outside of hospitals could save the health
system tens of millions of dollars a year. This reduces the
queues in hospital emergency rooms.
Today, more than 90 percent of Terem patients go home happy
after swift treatment. It was recently reported that the
average time a patient spends in Terem, from initial entry
until leaving, is only 69 minutes. His urgent care standards
have inspired a cadre of other U.S. board-trained physicians
in the specialty, and together they have helped elevate the
level of services all around the country.
Thousands of people owe their lives to him since most Magen
David Adom volunteers and other emergency personnel took the
first-aid courses he taught. One year ago he was asked to
come back to Shaarei Tzedek as director of the emergency
"He would appear at the site of every attack, volunteer, get
in the ambulances to evacuate the injured to the emergency
room," said Dr. Kobi Assaf, director of the emergency room at
Hadassah Ein Karem hospital, also in Jerusalem.
Once he took over the emergency room at Shaarei Tzedek, he
was always the first one there after an attack.
In Shaare Zedek Hospital's emergency department in June, he
had an erasable board marked with black lines on which every
new arrival's initials were listed along with arrival time,
symptoms, names of doctors who treated him, tests ordered,
and other details. This seemingly simple setup, which he
innovated, allowed harried staff members to absorb
information about their patients at a glance, letting them
know of any bottlenecks or anyone who had fallen between the
He had recently introduced a digital scoreboard that stored
and displayed this information in real time. Hooked up to the
computer system and destined to replace the erasable board,
the technology he developed made him very proud.
Born in Detroit, raised and educated in Cleveland, Applebaum
came to Israel in 1981. He had received rabbinical ordination
at Yeshiva University, and was a student of the late Rabbi
Dr. David Applebaum and his daughter Nava, Hy'd, were
buried at Har Hamenuchos following a levaya attended
by thousands. His father-in-law, Rabbi S. Spero of Cleveland,
eulogized the slain physician and his daughter.