Dear Family and Friends of Hadassah,
Last week I had the chance to welcome two very different groups of people to our Medical Center: The Creative Coalition from Hollywood and the Jewish Federation of Brazil. It was the first time I addressed any of our many visitors and I must confess, I had a few butterflies in my stomach. The problem was not the message, but the language. My Portuguese is nonexistent; fortunately my English is much better, but neither is my native tongue.
However, my “stage fright” disappeared as soon as I stood before them, heard why they had come to Hadassah and saw how much they appreciated what we had to show them. I began by telling them about Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization of America, about the pioneering initiatives and extraordinary vision nearly 100 years ago that led to this great Medical Center. I spoke about the foresight and creativity that inspired them to establish Hadassah International, and how together we have worked to make the world a healthier place.
I described our accomplishments in clinical care, our outstanding research achievements, the excellent training we provide our medical students, interns and residents, and the challenge of maintaining our high standards and working constantly to exceed and excel. But most of all, I told them about Hadassah’s belief, my belief, that our role and responsibility is to serve as a Bridge to Peace, not only between Israel and the Jewish people, between Israel and the world, but here at home, between the many communities in Israel with many religions and their many forms of religious practice.
The actors and entertainers of The Creative Coalition are well aware of HWZOA. After all, they work or live in Hollywood where Hadassah is almost a household word. They came to HMO with two objectives: to learn about how we are using stem cells to correct conditions and retard the progress of diseases; and to see first-hand how Jews and Arabs cooperate in the finest fashion for the benefit of their patients, who are also Jews and Arabs.
The members of the Brazilian Federation had a different program, one tailored to their special interests. They, too, know about Hadassah through the work of Hadassah International in Brazil and throughout South America. They, too, were excited and energized by what they saw and heard.
Every year HMO hosts between 30,000 and 50,000 people from the countries of six continents. The different types of groups and the places they come from almost exceed the imagination.
In the last few weeks alone, our visitors included: a Law Enforcement Group from the United States; a European Union delegation; a South Carolina Business and Medical Mission; four Turkish journalists; a delegation from Western Australia, one from Austria and the First Lady of Kenya. While I didn’t have a chance to meet them, I know that each of their programs was designed to suit their specific interests and that the members of our medical staff took the time to give them an insider’s view of their work and ours.
For example, Dr. Cobi Assaf, Chairman of the Department of Emergency Medicine, told the members of the European Union about different and sometimes contradictory aspects of his life; how he sees Israel through the lens of a parent and grandparent, a kibbutznick, a soldier and a physician. Through his personal stories, they were able to grasp the complexity of our lives; our desire for peace and our need for security.
A young Turkish couple who have been training at Hadassah for the past two years came to meet the Turkish journalists. After Prof. Eithan Galun, Head of the Goldyne Savad Institute of Gene Therapy, described his work with a colleague in Ankara, they asked the Turkish doctors at Hadassah how they viewed recent events. Our Turkish radiologist related how he had been part of the team that treated the injured Turks in the flotilla incident. “They received excellent treatment,” he said, “the same excellent treatment that everyone who is brought here receives.”
The First Lady of Kenya is a teacher and educator. She met with a young woman dentist who had been to Ethiopia to work with orphaned HIV and AIDS children, Prof. Allon Moses, Chairman of the Department of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases. Then she visited the children in our Hadassah School and our Department of Pediatric Hematology and Oncology. “This is a hospital filled with humanity,” she said as she was leaving.
I am proud we had a chance to show the First Lady, and all our other visitors, our human touch; how it extends to everything we do; how we treat the person, not just the illness; how we look for ways to eradicate disease; and how we extend a helping hand to others near and far.
Our Hadassah friends and family from around the world come with a different perspective. Last week, we proudly welcomed Baltimore Hadassah’s Autumn Mission (left), among many other Hadassah groups. For them, for you, and for us, coming to HMO is coming home. Armed with knowledge and looking for more, you come to meet the people who are handling HMO’s most important projects and learn more about the day-to-day work of the Medical Center, you come to see how Hadassah is doing and to hear how you can help.
HWZOA National President Marcie Natan and Past National President Bonnie Lipton, HWZOA Building Chair, returned to check on the progress of the Sarah Wetsman Davidson Hospital Tower and our plans to receive the first patients on March 19, 2012.
Our long and detailed Visitors List provides an even more extensive understanding of the immense variety of people who want to visit our Medical Center. HMO’s Division of External Relations and its Department of Development, Donors and Events, makes all the arrangements. Conversant in many languages, our outstanding guides attend to our visitors with competence, kindness and wide-ranging knowledge of what is happening on our two campuses.
These days, I am somewhat more confident about finding my way around the hospitals. I no longer feel like I need to leave a trail of bread crumbs, like Hansel and Gretl, to find my way back to my office when I leave my destination. Yet, I know that I, too, would benefit from seeing the Medical Center as our visitors do. I hope to join one of their tours and see Hadassah through the eyes of our guests. It would give me great pleasure if you, the members of our family, were among them.
Prof. Ehud Kokia