Shamai Davidson, MD 1926-1986

Professor Shamai Davidson, MD, at the time of his death, Director of the Shalvata Mental Health Hospital and Center, and Associate Director of the Institute on the Holocaust and Genocide in Jerusalem, was one of the three founders of the Institute – together with Eli Wiesel and Israel Charny.

Shamai Davidson dedicated himself in particular to psychiatric treatment of survivors of the Holocaust. We remember very clearly his descriptions of how he would drop everything at the hospital when he learned that a Holocaust survivor had been admitted as a new patient. As a person whose close relatives perished in the Nazi death camps, and as a committed Zionist, Shamai Davidson elected to leave his home in Ireland – where he also received his medical training, and made aliyah to the relatively newly founded State of Israel. Sadly, his productive and creative work was brought to an unexpected halt when he suddenly in surgery.

A collection of Shamai Davidson’s work on treating Holocaust survivors was published posthumously: Shamai Davidson (1992).  Holding on to Humanity – The Message of Holocaust Survivors: The Shamai Davidson Papers. New York: New York University Press.


The following biography and appreciation of Shami Davidson was published in Hebrew in and Israeli journal of psychotherapy: Witzomb, Eliezer and Margolin, Jacob (March, 2017).  Shamai Davidson, 1926-1986.  SichotIsraeli Journal of Psychotherapy,  31(2), 162-167 (Hebrew).

Read the full text here.