History of Medicine

The Neurologist Lipmann Halpern - Author of the Oath of the Hebrew Physician

Moshe Feinsod


Lipman Halpern was born in 1902 into a family of Grand Rabbis who lived in Bialystok from the mid-nineteenth century. Inspired by his son’s decision to study medicine, Halpern’s father authored a comprehensive and innovative book on medicine according to Rabbinic Law. After completing his initial medical studies in Königsberg, Halpern went on to specialize in neuropsychiatry in Berlin and then in Zurich. In 1934, Halpern immigrated to Eretz-Israel (then Palestine), where he founded and expanded the Department of Neurology at the Hadassah University Hospital in Jerusalem. Under his guidance, the department became a leader in clinical neurology, clinical and basic neurological research, and teaching. For the graduation of the first class of the Faculty of Medicine of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in 1952, he authored the “Oath of the Hebrew Physician,”which went on to become the official oath for all new physicians graduating from Israeli faculties of medicine. Halpern authored many clinical and research articles in English, German, French, and Hebrew. His studies on the relationship between the vestibular, cerebellar, and visual systems resulted in the description of the phenomenon of “monocular disequilibrium”and the “sensory motor induction syndrome,”also known as “Halpern’s syndrome.”In 1953 he became the first Israel Prize laureate in Medicine. Halpern died in 1968 while serving his second term as Dean of the Faculty of Medicine at Hebrew University.

Rambam Maimonides Med J 2012;3(2):e0008