On September 2, some 50 hospitalized children at Hadassah Medical Organization’s two Jerusalem hospitals joined more than two million healthy Israeli children and started the 2018–19 school year. “This year, the Israeli Ministry of Education chose to focus all schools on the theme of Unity and Uniqueness,” said Edna Pinchover, school principal. “That has always been our theme at Hadassah. We unite students from all sectors of Israeli society and celebrate each child’s unique character.”
Reuven, a four-year-old wearing a big black kippah, went to music class, where he learned to sing and say “Happy New Year” in Arabic so that he can sing together with his Arabic-speaking classmates Nur and Samira. “All classes at our school are conducted in Hebrew and Arabic simultaneously,” said Pinchover.
Judith, a seven-year-old patient in the Pediatric Oncology Department, was reviewing the Hebrew alphabet on her first day of grade one. “Our students don’t have a choice of whether or not to be in the hospital,” said Pinchover. “School at Hadassah reminds these children that their entire personality isn’t only that of a sick patient. They are students, too, and are still capable of learning.”
Hadassah’s school operates within all 10 pediatric departments on both the Ein Kerem and Mount Scopus campuses. Each department runs a mini-school with its own teachers and support staff. All classes include a diverse set of students of different ages and from varied backgrounds, similar to the old one-room schoolhouses. “Every morning we go through the rooms seeing who is still in the hospital, who is well enough to come to the group class, and who needs private lessons in their room,” said Pinchover. “Then we are able to best address each child’s health and learning needs.”
This year, Hadassah also began a pilot program digitally connecting high school students to their local schools. “This enables hospitalized teenagers to keep up with classwork—and keep in touch with their friends,” said Pinchover.
Yusuf, who is five years old, is in the midst of a brutal battle with cancer. The severity of his medical circumstances resulted in the amputation of his left arm. Throughout it all, the Hadassah school has been his anchor. “Yusuf is a happy and confident kid,” said Yusuf’s grandfather. “He has undergone so much during his months in the hospital, and I know it’s the school that has enabled Yusuf to keep his confident personality.”