Uri Bargai was a very special person, known to people from our professional field as Uri or Professor Bargai but for many it was Uri and Ella, his beloved wife.
Most of his life, Uri lived on Kibbutz Tzora in Israel, a community settlement with cooperation in almost all aspects of life. Uri was one of the founders of his kibbutz in the year 1948 - the year of the Israeli Independence.
During those first few years of the kibbutz it was not common to receive permission from the community for higher education (with the exception of educators needed on the kibbutz). Finally in1953 Uri had the permission and traveled to the University of Pennsylvania to study Veterinary Medicine. At the end of 1959 Uri end Ella returned to the kibbutz and Uri started his professional life as a farm animal veterinarian in the Hachaklait Company, which was the only group of veterinarians that took care of farm animals. Small animal/companion animal medicine was as undeveloped as the farm animal medicine and Uri was one of those who developed this field as well.
Before Uri returned from the University of Pennsylvania there was no x-ray machine for animals in Israel. The only way to take a radiograph of an animal was achieved by the good will of human hospitals. Uri brought the first x-ray equipment from Penn to Israel and was the pioneer in the field of Veterinary Radiology.
At that time he developed the fields of bovine radiology and bovine lameness and was one of the pioneers in both worldwide. Everyone is familiar with his excellent book on bovine radiology published in 1989 (co-authored with John W. Pharr and Joe Morgan), a book that all generations of radiology residents studied intensely.
Uri planned and established the first mobile radiology lab in 1985, with a mobile condenser discharged x-ray machine and an automatic development machine. It was the first veterinary mobile unit in Israel and in the entire world. With this mobile unit Uri went wherever needed - bovine farms, equine stables, zoos and more.
Uri was one of a small and unique group of people who established the first and the only school of Veterinary Medicine in Israel - part of the Hebrew university. The Koret School of Veterinary Medicine was opened in 1985 with a group of 20 students and I had the privilege to be included in the first class. We had few teachers and one of them was Uri who at that time was a senior veterinarian but he was always “just” Uri for us (on a first name basis). Uri coordinated the courses in radiology, bovine and equine medicine in both the school and the teaching hospital. Uri was one of the most admired teacher and educator as well as adviser in all aspects of veterinary medicine and more. Uri was my mentor and the one who showed me the beauty of veterinary imaging.
i traveled and learned all his life in different countries and attended most of the veterinary radiology conferences as well as in many other disciplines in veterinary medicine. Uri published many scientific articles as well as presenting in many international conferences and was the organizer of the 1997 IVRA meeting in Jerusalem.
There is so much to tell about Uri the veterinarian, radiologist and educator but Uri was very very special in so many additional aspects. He was very knowledgable about the history, geography and the fauna and flora of Israel and guided groups from the kibbutz, from the veterinary school and others in all areas of our country. After his retirement he immersed himself in further studies in these fields.
Uri was a man of many talents. He was a vet and radiologist, teacher, professor, inventor, pioneer, researcher. Uri was a friend and mentor to many of us. He was one of the most optimistic people and always found the best in everything and everyone. Above all he was an outstanding, wonderful human being. Uri passed away on September 30th 2016 and his loss is greatly felt by all of those who had the privilege of knowing him. His legacy will be always in our hearts.
Written by Zahi Aizenberg
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