Arrival: More than a job – a mission

When he finished medical school, Wilbur earned rabbinic ordination at Yeshiva University’s Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary.

DR. TZVI WILBUR (photo credit: Courtesy)
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Dr. Tzvi Yehuda Wilbur leaves his home in Jerusalem’s Kiryat Moshe neighborhood by 6:30 every morning and devotes eight hours to seeing pediatric patients at Leumit clinics in the Binyamin Regional Council. Once a week he teaches medical ethics at Tel Aviv University’s Sackler Faculty of Medicine – where he earned his MD degree in 2006 – and every other week, at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa.
In addition, Wilbur learns Talmud with a study partner three times a week, organizes monthly Shabbatons for Sackler and Technion medical students, and is trying to establish an affordable English-speaking retirement community in Safed in the hope of attracting thousands of American Zionists.
He’s also working with Technion American Medical School to start a joint program with Yeshiva University that combines Judaic and medical studies for Orthodox American students.
Somehow, Wilbur also finds time to relax with his Israeli-born wife, Bruria, and their four young children.
“I think it’s the best time in history for American doctors to come here because there is such a need for generalists,” says this 39-year-old powerhouse, who was raised in Woodmere, New York, and learned in yeshivot in Israel for six years following high school. When he finished medical school, Wilbur earned rabbinic ordination at Yeshiva University’s Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary, and from 2007 to 2010 worked in pediatrics at Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn, before starting a pediatric hematology/oncology fellowship at Cohen Children’s Medical Center in Long Island.
But when Wilbur’s father-in-law, Rabbi Benny Eisner, became terminally ill in 2011, the family dropped everything and came to Israel to be with him in his final months. They returned to the States only in the fall of 2013, and then made aliya in 2015.
Wilbur’s own grandfather had lived in Palestine in the 1920s and 1930s. His parents and their friends were Zionists, but almost all retired to Florida rather than making aliya. “I asked, ‘Why not Israel?’ and they said it was due to financial challenges,” which is why he wants to find a practical solution to this problem.
Meanwhile, although his parents and three siblings remain in the US, he is very happy living in the neighborhood where Bruria grew up.
Wilbur is keen to encourage other physicians to immigrate to Israel. “The income can be rewarding but it’s more than a job; it’s a mission,” he says.
“For me, aliya is about serving the State of Israel and its citizens and making good medical care available to my patients,” says Wilbur. “I could easily have stayed in the States but my wife and father-in-law helped me keep my eyes on the prize.”