The last night of Hanukkah has the special name of Zot (“this” is) Hanukkah. Zot means something is clear as if you could point to it with your finger and say, THIS is Hanukkah. We kindle the lights and suddenly everything is bright, all eight lights ablaze.
On Zot Hanukkah it’s particularly appropriate to celebrate Hadassah’s fight against blindness in the world. Our first campaign in pre-state Israel was banishing flies from the eyes of children, thus protecting them from trachoma. You won’t see trachoma in Israel today, but it’s still a major cause of blindness in the developing world.
Dr. Irene Anteby, who heads the Pediatric Ophthalmology Department at Hadassah, recently explained, “We are the leading center in Israel operating on little babies born blind because of cataracts and other congenital diseases. If we don’t operate right away, they will never be able to acquire sight. I’m always moved to watch that moment after surgery when those previously blind babies see their moms for the first time.”
Henrietta Szold’s mother, Sophie, wept when in 1909 she first saw children with flies in their eyes. She urged Henrietta to do something about it. The result: Hadassah, The Women’s Zionist Organization of America. The hospital dreamed big and now, as an international referral center for eye problems, is saving and restoring sight for thousands of people. Healing the world. Together.
Let’s think of our vision in the broadest sense—where we’ve come from and where we are going, as we thankfully feast our eyes during this season of light.