Dr. Rebecca (Hemda) Tiffereth-Muttath
A Dedicated Doctor of Women Health and Medicine, a Comforter and a Righteous Soul
11.11.1943 - 2013
By Nissim Moses
Article prepared courtesy of Mrs. Zipora Meir and her sister Mrs.Tirza Lavi
Rebecca (Hemda) was born in North Parur, Kerala to Haim and Leah Muttath on 11th Nov 1943. Her father was the Deputy Director of Education in Kerala, India.
The Malabar community of present day Kerala lived in eight Jewish congregations. Three in Cochin, two in Ernakulum and one each in Parur, Chenamangalam and Mala. All through their approximately 1000 years of history in this region, the Jews lived in favorable conditions bestowed to them by the Maharajas of Cochin and Travencore, and the Rajas of the surrounding regions. This allowed comfortable conditions for Jews to practice their faith and develop a unique culture permitting a high status to their women. It was in this atmosphere that Rebecca grew up, educated and qualified herself as a doctor.
It was common in those days that many a child delivery in rural India was performed at home by local midwives. It was on one such occasion that Rebecca at the age of eight was witness to a tragic incident, where a young mother bled to death during child delivery. She then resolved to become a qualified doctor of women medicine and a gynecologist. As she grew up she made every effort to achieve the higher education required to make her dream of becoming a physician turn into a reality.
Upon qualifying as a Doctor of Medicine from Kerala University in India, Rebecca (Hemda) immigrated to Israel in 1970. She specialized in Gynecology at the Kaplan Hospital in Rehovot, Israel. Though an Orthodox Jew, she additionally qualified herself as a sexologist at the Beilinson Hospital in Petah Tiqwa in Israel, in order to assist religious and secular women as a gynecologist. She also studied Homeopathic Medicine at the Asaf HaRofeh Hospital at Srifin, Israel. She travelled to India numerous times where she took specialized courses at reputed institutions on the subject of Homeopathy. One of her additional qualifications was the Paula Grupper method which she learnt from Ms. Paula Grupper herself. She introduced this method to the maternity wards of the hospitals she worked in and helped women in labor to suffer less pain during child birth. Her working career extended over a period of thirty five years at the above three mentioned hospitals.
Dr. Rebecca (Hemda) Tiffereth married Mr. Mordechai Tiffereth (an Education Officer) and mothered three children Eitan (physicist), Sarit (social worker) and Ophir (electrical engineer). All are married and settled in Israel. There are ten grandchildren.
On the personal side Hemda loved the world of Arts, painted, loved reading, theater, and loved to travel. She was involved in social life and was a frequent invitee to events of the Cochin Jewish community in Israel.
Dr. Rebecca (Hemda) Tiffereth true to her name is the "Tiffereth" of the Malabar Jewish Community of Israel, a shining torch and a standard bearer of the community as a whole. Her demise at the age of seventy was a great loss to her community, who has the greatest respect for her capabilities, achievements and her contribution to society.
May her soul rest in peace....
Nissim Moses is a Historian-Indian Jewish Heritage & Bnei Israel Genealogy Research
President of the India Jewish Heritage Center