Israeli doctor gets new insights into family medicine during a fellowship at The Miriam

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The surname of the latest Israeli doctor to come to The Miriam Hospital on fellowship may sound familiar, since it’s quite famous – Rothschild.

Dr. Shelly Rothschild is, in fact, a descendant of the renowned European banking family. 

“We are connected to the famous Rothschild family, but very, very distant relatives,” she said. “My family came from Germany, from Frankfurt, and that’s where the famous Rothschild family came from.”

Her grandfather was also a doctor. When he lost his position at a German hospital because he was Jewish, he decided to flee from Hitler and the Nazis. Like many European Jews, he immigrated to Palestine, arriving in 1935 in the run-up to the Holocaust, World War II and the founding of Israel.

Many of his relatives who disregarded his urgings to flee Germany died in the Holocaust.

In Palestine, he lived on a kibbutz, a collective community, and donated his possessions to the kibbutz.

“I also grew up on a kibbutz,” said Rothschild, who described it as a small village called Gonen, in northern Israel.

Rothschild, 43, went on to earn her medical degree at Ben Gurion University. She is now a family medicine physician at a clinic in Kiryat Tivon, a town of close to 19,000 residents near Haifa.

Rothschild jumped at the opportunity to visit Providence for five weeks as part of a family medicine fellowship that brings mid-career doctors from Israel to The Miriam, which was founded by Rhode Island’s Jewish community.

The annual fellowship is a collaboration between The Miriam Hospital and Brown University’s Alpert Medical School. The goal of the program is to contribute to the development of primary-care leaders in Israel.

“Family medicine is so broad and interesting,” Rothschild said. “I see some families that are three generations. I see the young and the old. I get to know the whole family. “

While on fellowship here, Rothschild, who is fluent in English, worked closely with Dr.  Jeffrey Borkan, chair of the Department of Family Medicine, and spent time at both The Miriam and a clinic at Memorial Hospital, in Pawtucket. She focused on networking with physicians who have expertise in areas that particularly interest her – geriatrics and family violence.

“I thought the fellowship could be a great experience to help improve teaching skills, learn new methods and expose myself to new medical systems,” she said, adding that she also wanted to get involved with “the Jewish community here.”

Thanks to the many introductions made by Jeffrey Brier, life governor of The Miriam’s Board of Trustees, Rothschild said she was able to do all of that, including spending time at the Alliance’s Dwares Jewish Community Center, in Providence, and celebrating Israel Independence Day there.

“I am so grateful to all of the nice people who have been so helpful at The Miriam Hospital,” she said.

She completed the fellowship in mid-May and has since returned home to her husband and two children.

RICHARD SALIT is senior public relations officer at Lifespan/The Miriam Hospital.