Dr. David Applebaum was born in New York on December 27, 1952, the tenth of Tevet, 5713. He grew up in Detroit, Michigan, and studied at the Hebrew Theological College and Yeshivat Brisk in Skokie and Chicago, Illinois from 1966 to 1976. While there, he became a close disciple of Rabbi Aaron Soloveichik, z”l , Head of the Yeshiva. He received his rabbinic ordination from Rabbi Soloveichik, and remained his devoted disciple until the Rabbi’s passing. From his teacher, Dr. Applebaum developed his philosophy that uncompromising commitment to Torah and active participation in modern life were complementary, and not contradictory aspects of serving God. He often said that one should glorify the mitzvah of saving a life in the same manner as one glorifies the mitzvah of the four species.
In 1978 he received his medical degree from the Medical College of Ohio in Toledo, Ohio. He was boarded in Internal Medicine in 1983 and in 1989 he was admitted to the American College of Emergency Physicians. Emergency medicine suited David well, capitalizing on his ability to stay calm under pressure, to quickly analyze a situation, decide on a course of action, and put it into practice with extraordinary efficiency.
Dr. Applebaum made aliya with his family in 1981, and together with his wife Debra built a home that shone with hospitality, culture and the highest ideals of Torah and love of Israel. He worked in the emergency department of Shaarei Tzedek Hospital, where he learned first hand the problems of running an emergency department in Israel. Subsequently he served for ten years as head of the Magen David Adom ambulance team in Jerusalem. In this capacity, he participated and saved countless lives in the wake of traffic accidents, cardiac and trauma cases. He treated many victims of terror attacks, and even operated on a victim in the throes of one such attack. In 1986, following this particular incident, the Knesset awarded Dr. Applebaum the "Special Citation for Improving the Quality of Life in Israel" for his outstanding work in the field of medicine.
Dr. Applebaum was witness to the crushing burden of hospital emergency rooms, which buckled under the pressure of treating both light and serious cases at the expense of the serious ones. To address this problem, in 1989 he established Terem Immediate Care Clinic together with several partners, to take care of patients who do not require hospitalization. Since its founding, Terem has successfully treated hundreds of thousands of patients, saving them the stress and upheaval of hospitalization. As Terem director, Dr. Applebaum implemented many innovations to improve the quality of care and patient education, such as discharge information sheets, patient satisfaction surveys, and even a clown to entertain children on crowded Saturday nights.
Dr. Applebaum himself treated thousands of patients in Terem, where he demonstrated his extraordinary bedside manner while treating his patients with utmost professionalism. Above all, he related to the patient as a human being, tuning in perfectly to the patient’s cultural, religious, or sociological value system. Thus, he earned the trust and respect of the sanitation worker, yeshivah head, and government minister alike.
He opened additional branches of Terem in Maale Adumim (1993), Modiin (1998), and Beit Shemesh (2002). In 1993 he opened a Family Practice in Rechavia; in 1998 he took over two Leumit clinics in Ramot.
In 2002 he accepted a position as director of Shaarei Tzedek Emergency Department, where he made many improvements, all the while continuing the running of the Terem clinics.
On September 9, 2003, 13 Elul, 5763, instead of treating a terror victim, he became one. Dr. Applebaum was killed in a terror attack at Café Hillel, along with his daughter Naava, on the eve of her wedding. Naava, twenty years old, had already earned a reputation similar to her father’s for devotion to those who suffered illness or hardship. As a National Service volunteer in Zichron Menachem, she brought hope and happiness to cancer children with her infectious enthusiasm and love of life.
Dr. Applebaum’s presence is felt in every corner of Terem clinics. The power of his charismatic personality, brilliance and genuine love of people inspired others to share his dreams and values. He brought out people’s best qualities and challenged them to use those qualities to realize their own dreams. His example will continue to promote healing, kindness, hope and strength for the Jewish people and all of mankind.