On Yom Hashoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day) in Israel, Rambam Health Care Campus remembers one of its very special supporters – Hedda Engel, who survived Auschwitz and other concentration camps, and moved to Israel in 1949.
Hedda Engel nee Schonstein was born on June 27, 1923, in Rimavská Sobota in southeastern Slovakia. At the age of 14, she was orphaned when both of her parents passed away, and she moved in with her grandparents and her father's sister.
After graduating from elementary school, Hedda started studying at a school of commerce and accounting, but as she was Jewish, her studies were discontinued. She chose to study literature instead, and worked in this profession until 1944.
In 1944, Hedda was sent with her aunt, her grandmothers, and other family members to the Auschwitz concentration camp. From there, she was sent to other camps where she experienced great suffering that included forced labor and death marches. Following the liberation in May 1945, Hedda returned to her hometown with her aunt, the only other member of her family to survive.
In 1946, she married Jacob Engel, a certified public accountant.
In 1949, the Engels immigrated to Israel and settled in Haifa. Jacob continued to work as an accountant and Hedda helped him with his work. The Engels had no children, and after Jacob's death in 1990, she moved to the Beit Ildan nursing home in Kiryat Motzkin, and remained there until her death on November 16, 2019.
Hedda was an amazing woman, a Holocaust survivor who, at her own initiative, came to Rambam Health Care Campus one day at the end of 2015, where she announced to Rambam’s general director that she was interested in donating to the hospital. From that moment on, she was adopted by the hospital's Department of International Relations and Resource Development, whose staff members would visit her every two weeks at the nursing home in Kiryat Motzkin.
After her death in November 2019 at the age of 96, Rambam’s management decided to pay tribute to Hedda, renaming the seminar room in the Cheryl Spencer Pediatric Emergency Department as the Hedda and Jacob Engel Seminar Room.
Hedda Engel with members of Rambam's Department of International Relations and Resource Development.