Through his long-time collaboration with the St. John Eye Hospital in East Jerusalem, Prof. Saul Merin, Hadassah University Medical Center ophthalmologist, was a role model for building bridges between Israelis and Palestinians through medicine.
Prof. Merin, who passed away in August, played a major role in training Palestinian ophthalmologists working in the Palestinian Authority and created close working relationships between Hadassah and colleagues at St. John. Born in a small town on the border between Poland and Germany, Prof. Merin managed to escape deportation to the Auschwitz concentration camp on August 3, 1943. A child at the time, he was hidden in Bêdzin in southwest Poland, until the arrival of the Soviet army in January 1945. He emigrated to Israel in 1949.
Prof. Merin, author of the seminal ophthalmology text entitled Inherited Eye Diseases, served as a part-time consultant at St. John since 2001. When The Peres Center for Peace announced that it would fund a joint fellowship program which enabled St. John medical residents to train at Hadassah, Prof. Merin became Hadassah’s representative at St. John. “I find that the doctors, nurses, and practitioners speak and think the same way I do,” Prof. Merin related, and “I thoroughly enjoy meeting patients who come from Nablus, Jenin, and Gaza.”
“If it depends on the people, there will be peace and living together without any problems,” Prof. Merin reflected. “I do hope,” he continued, “that the feeling of the people who want peace will prevail–I have no doubt about it– and that will lead to a peaceful solution to the problems of two peoples living on one piece of land.”
To hear more about the collaboration between St. John and Hadassah from the health professionals at St. John, click to http://www.stjohneyehospital.org/2012-documentary-trailer