Goodby, Friend

Hilda Friedstein, Former Chairwoman of the SPCA Dies (1920-2012)

It is with great sorrow that we announce the death of a great and charitable woman who dedicated her life to the SPCA and was one of the pioneers in the Society for the Protection of Animals in Israel, working tirelessly to increase public awareness of animal suffering and rights. Hilda Friedstein has died at the age of 92.

For 35 years, Friedstein served as Chairwoman of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in Israel, as a volunteer and with tremendous dedication, spearheading many fights on behalf of animal welfare.

Hilda was born in South Africa, daughter to a family that emigrated from Lithuania at the start of the 19th century. Even as a young girl, Friedstein developed strong social awareness and sensitivity to the weak. At the age of 9, Hilda became vegetarian and several years later joined the Hashomer Hatzair (The Youth Guard) movement. In 1942, Friedstein immigrated to Israel with her husband, the late Kalman (Koli). With the establishment of the State of Israel, the Zionist couple served as Hashomer Hatzair emissaries abroad, and were one of the founders of Kibbutz Shoval.

Several years later, Friedstein became extremely active in the only animal protection organization in Israel, the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in Israel, which was founded in 1927. In 1970, Hilda assumed the role of Chairwoman, a completely voluntary position and one that she filled for 35 years. In years in which animal issues were not on the public agenda, Hilda was the most prominent activist in the field and changed many perceptions. Friedstein was the first to encourage and subsidize spaying and neutering of pets, spearheading public and legal campaigns against animal research and against the harsh conditions of some animals in the food industries.

She also set up the first modern shelter for abandoned animals in Tel-Aviv. The SPCA shelter, built on 7 dunam of land, serves to this day as a shelter for many species of animals that were abandoned or that suffered from abuse and neglect.

In addition to her extensive activities in the SPCA Israel, Friedstein was a peace activist and her hobbies included painting, playing instruments and tennis. Along with her husband Koli, Friedstein was party to the establishment of the Israel Tennis Center in Ramat Hasharon in order to develop and advance the sport of tennis in Israel and to help young people achieve.

Over the years, Hilda raised dozens of dogs, keeping them on a vegetarian diet. Friedstein insisted on adopting adult dogs whose chances of findings adoptive homes were slim, since she believed that vegetarian food that the dogs ate had a significant impact on their health and life span. As proof – all of Hilda’s dogs lived a long life, many to around 20 years of age.

Friedstein featured in the last project of the SPCA Israel, the 2012-13 yearly calendar , which was dedicated to the special bond that formed between senior citizens and pets. Friedstein herself was photographed three months prior with two adult dogs that were adopted from the SPCA – Mazli, a sweet, 14-year-old blind poodle and Tina, a 16-year-old deaf mixed pinscher.

The SPCA Israel Foundation was set up in Hilda Friedstein’s name and this unique rescue foundation allows the SPCA to continue its long-term activities to prevent suffering, and to rescue and help thousands of abandoned animals every year. Friedstein’s funeral will take place at 15:00 at the cemetery in Savyon. Blessed be her memory.