At the Judaica House on Cedar Lane in Teaneck, NJ, passing time while Miriam was indulging in Cousin Leah’s special birthday celebration, I came across a most remarkable book published earlier this year. Here is a beautifully done video celebrating the book’s launch in Jerusalem.
Apparently aficionados of Jerusalem are quite familiar with Anna Ticho by virtue of the Ticho House Museum on HaRav Kuk Street. I have never been there, but note that the House has been closed since September 2014 for extensive renovations and due to re-open on September 10, 2015.
It is perhaps fitting, because Anna was a posthumous recipient of the Israel Prize for Painting (four months after her death in 1980), that Dr. David Reifler as an ophthalmologic historian chronicles how Anna’s husband played an integral role in helping to establish the field in modern Jersualem. In this podcast, Dr. Reifler and museum curator Timna Seligman discuss the Ticho House as a tribute to the influence of the Ticho couple in and around downtown Jerusalem in their day. They are memorialized by a street that bears their name (Ticho Street indicated by the green arrow on the Google map below), in addition to the Ticho House.
Dr. Reifler’s book is a delight both for historians of eye care as well as historians of the transformation of Palestine/old Jerusalem into the new State of Israel. Dr. Alfred Ticho was the first ophthalmologist to settle permanently in Jerusalem, and in doing so overcame many obstacles. A special pearl appears on pp. 329-30, with excerpts from a speech delivered by Nobel laureate S.Y. Agnon – a neighbor and close friend of the Tichos, in honor of Dr. Alfred Ticho’s 60th birthday in 1943.
As an optometry student in the 1970s, I was introduced to conditions attached to famous names – many of whom Dr. Ticho studied under or crossed paths with in Vienna such as Fuchs, Elschnig, and most notably his principal mentor, Otto Bergmeister. Fuchs is known for his namesake corneal dystrophy; Elschnig for his lenticular pearls, and Bergmeister for his papilla. Bergmeister’s papilla, consisting of a small tuft of fibrous tissue arising from the center of the optic disc, represents a remnant of the hyaloid artery that provides nutrition to the crystalline lens during its embryologic development.
A remnant is often considered a fragment, something left over that bears witness to a material or structure of great complexity, significance or value. Although there is no ocular remnant of Ticho’s name as there is with Bergmeister’s papilla, he could have justifiably attached his name to trachoma, a condition which occupied much of his professional time and for which he was internationally renowned.
Ticho means “quiet” or “silent” in Czech, but as noted in this superlative Jerusalem Post review, his life is no longer a well-kept secret.
Dr. Reifler’s work speaks volumes about a pivotal person, at a pivotal time, in a pivotal place.