By Yonatan Peres, DVM
KFAR HAYAROK, Israel–The first time I met Edith and Irving Taylor was in 1998. I was appointed the director of the Teaching Hospital of the Koret School of Veterinary Medicine at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. The teaching hospital facility, founded in 1988, thanks to the very generous contribution of the Koret Foundation , became too small and crowded for the growing caseload and staff. We needed more wards, office and lecture space and the reception area was incapable of holding the growing number of animals and owners.
I was invited to meet with Edith and her husband Irv, a charming gentleman, at the Fairbanks Ranch Country Club in San Diego County. They were both fascinated by the story of the first and only veterinary school in Israel. Edith was concerned about the animal welfare status in Israel. The Middle East region is not known to be very much aware of animal welfare and rights. Edith mentioned how the Bible and the Jewish religious law assign rights to animals and livestock (later on, at her request, I gathered many biblical and Halacha quotes and verses, proving that).
I remember explaining to them the enormous importance and need of the Veterinary School and Hospital in Israel. Edith told me about her philanthropic activity for the Delta Society and other organizations, and also spoke of her family’s ongoing philanthropic involvement with the Hebrew University.
Following the lunch meeting, the Taylors invited me to their magnificent home, on top of a hill, overlooking a breathtaking canyon with birds of prey hovering above it. I was impressed by Edith’s love to fine art and realized that she was both an art lover and patron. I showed them a short movie, presenting the activity of our teaching hospital. At the end of that presentation, there was a picture of me, picking up and kissing a tiny baby donkey, which we had treated and saved. I saw a tear coming down on her face and then she laughed and I knew that we were connected. Without further ado, Edith anounced her commitment for a very generous contribution to the hospital.
Unfortunately, Edith suffered from various health conditions, restricting her travel plans. I wanted her and Irv to come often to Israel and learn more about its animals and veterinary medicine. We were fortunate to receive one visit– for the inauguration of the Edith and Irving Small Animal Wing.
Later on, when I left the veterinary school for other opportunities, Edith was disappointed. I promised her that I would stay with a “finger on the pulse” to make sure that their contribution would be appropriately used – the task is greater than the individual. Irv and Edith made further larger contributions for the veterinary school, which filled my heart with pride.
Throughout the years, we became closer and I visited the Taylors several times on my trips to the USA. Always they warmly welcomed me and my family, even though Edith was not in a comfortable health situation to entertain guests. We used to dicuss the issues of animal welfare and the human-animal bond. Through the Taylors, I became aware of the huge Delta Society and other organizations dealing with animal–assisted–therapy. I participated in several Delta Society conventions – very moving events. Edith also sponsored a course for animal assisted therapy in Israel, organized by the Delta Society.
For a while, I was involved in fundraising for the Israel Guide Dogs Center for the Blind and received generous support for that from the Taylors as well.
When I established my veterinary hospital – ” Village Veterinary Center” – I also received their blessing and contribution.
I had the pleasure to meet, in addition to her wonderful husband, her children Bruce and Ryah, proving that the “apples do not fall from the tree.”
Following years of suffering and clinical deterioration, Edith passed on April 18. To me, she will always be remembered as the angel of the human-animal bond. May she rest in peace.
Peres operates a veterinary clinic specializing in emergency cases in the greater Tel Aviv area.