“When I was five-years-old, growing up in the United States, I knew I wanted to be a doctor and a leader in the State of Israel,” smiles Aleza Andron. Today Dr. Andron is an Israeli citizen and a senior physician in the Ophthalmology Department at Shaare Zedek Medical Center.
“When I was five-years-old, growing up in the United States, I knew I wanted to be a doctor and a leader in the State of Israel,”Dr. Aleza Andron
The Magazine recently sat down with Andron in a Jerusalem café. When asked how she balances her professional and personal life, her graceful actions spoke louder than words. As she was articulately and enthusiastically responding to questions, she was also calmly eating her lunch and lovingly feeding her two-month-old baby.
Who were the medical influencers in your life?
First – my late grandfather, who was a cardiologist and a wonderful man. As a child, I would often go with him to his office. For many years, I wanted to be a cardiologist just like him. In medical school, I considered different specialties and then, during the first year of my internship at Shaare Zedek, I had an "aha" moment. It happened when I met another intern, who had just watched cataract surgery, and she began telling me that it was the most amazing thing ever and I should check it out. I did and I fell in love with it. That chance meeting put me on a trajectory – an ophthalmology residency at Shaare Zedek followed by an oculoplastic fellowship at the Manhattan Eye and Ear Infirmary of Mount Sinai. And now it’s exciting to be back in the cutting-edge Ophthalmology Department of Shaare Zedek.
Did you grow up as an Israeli-American?
My roots are in Israel. My great-grandfather arrived here in 1922 and for the past 100 years, the family has gone back and forth between the two countries. Even when they lived in the US, my dad and his dad would speak Hebrew. I was born in Boston and grew up in Los Angeles, my mom’s hometown. When I was 10 years old, our family – parents and three daughters – moved to Israel and remained for four years. I attended the Frankel School in the Jerusalem neighborhood of French Hill and belonged to the Noam Youth Group. I always knew I would come back to Israel.
When did you become an American-Israeli?
After graduating from high school in New Jersey, I spent a year at the Rothberg School at Hebrew University. Wanting to get a liberal arts education, I returned to the US to get my BA from Barnard College, where I majored in religion. Then I was ready to fulfill my dream – living in Israel and studying medicine. The Sackler School of Medicine was the gateway for me to come back to Israel. In 2004, I was a student at Sackler and I became an Israeli citizen.
The Jerusalem Post recently reported that the government has decided not to allow foreign students to study medicine in Israel, barring them from Tel Aviv University’s Sackler, Ben-Gurion University's Faculty of Health Sciences and the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology’s Rappaport Faculty of Medicine in Haifa. What are your thoughts on this decision?
Honestly, it’s hard for me to say. On the one hand, I have friends who studied with me and went back to America, and they create an informal network of doctors in the US with close ties to Israel. On the other hand, I went to Sackler and ended up staying in Israel as a doctor. So from my own experience, going to Sackler wasn’t about coming to Israel and leaving. It was always about staying here. This is why I understand the desire to keep the medical system viable. Maybe they had to close doors for some to open them for others – but really I just think that there should be more doors.
IN 2011, Andron was featured in The Star Ledger, a New Jersey newspaper. “For Aleza Andron... serving food with her father and sisters at Smith-Andrews’ events has been the highlight of her Thanksgiving trips home from Jerusalem, where she lives. Noting the sense of community she feels at the event every year, she said, “It doesn’t feel like charity. If feels like everybody getting together.”
Aleza Andron was a caring person in the US, and today she’s a caring physician, surgeon, wife and mother in Jerusalem. ■
Aleza Andron: From New York to Jerusalem, 2004