67 isn’t a round number, but it’s one that resonates for us because of the connection to the Six Day War, which occurred in 1967.
At today’s solemn ceremony at Hadassah Hospital on Mount Scopus, marking 67 years since the massacre of 78 men and women on their way to the Hadassah Hospital on Mt. Scopus, the feeling that we are still facing attack was very much present. “What has changed?” asked David Cassouto, son of victim Hannah Cassouto. His mother survived Nazi concentration camps, to be reunited with her children in Israel. She supported her three children as a researcher in the labs of Hadassah Hospital. The children grew up in the care of their grandparents. His sister Sarah lives in Kibbutz Sa’ad where tens of rockets fell during the Defensive Edge war last summer.
On the morning of the 4th of Nissan, April 13, 1948 on the general calendar, ten vehicles gathered in the center of Jerusalem for the two mile drive to Mount Scopus. A bomb exploded on the road near the ambulance where Director General Chaim Yassky and his wife Fannie were traveling. Despite the clear markings that these were medical vehicles, and the white flags waved from every car, terrorists attacked the convoy. Five vehicles managed to turn back. The other five were attacked with guns and Molotov cocktails. For seven hours they were under fire, many burned to death, even though the British forces were nearby.
What used to be a private day of mourning for the Hadassah family, is now a national ceremony. The Jerusalem Municipality was represented by Deputy Mayor Zion Turgeman, and the Chief IDF Cantor Lt. Col. Shai Abramson sang “El Malei Rachamim” Interim Deputy Director Professor Tamar Peretz spoke of the continuing dedication of Hadassah staff today to the life-saving values of their martyred predecessors. Mount Scopus Director Dr. Osnat Levzion-Korach stressed the hospital continues to serve all patients, regardless of race, religion, and gender despite the challenges it faces.
One of the wreaths laid at the stone memorial on the hospital campus was laid by a group of British Christians to apologize for the role their countrypersons played in not rescuing the beleaguered doctors, nurses and patients.
Among the mourners was iris Yassky, the granddaughter of Dr. Chaim Yassky. “My grandmother only spoke twice in her life about that day in the convoy,” said Yassky. “Afterwards, she said she couldn’t manage it again. It was too much for her.”
“My grandfather—the world famous ophthalmologist—took a bullet in the liver, bade his wife goodbye and died. She took off her blouse to try and stanch the wound. At last, she walked away from the scene, all the way to town without her blouse. A jeep of British officers who were used to taking tea with the Yassky’s on Sunday afternoon saw her, offered her a ride, and something to cover up. She refused and kept on walking.”
Yael Maliach Shimoni, thanked Hadassah again for the package of dolls she remembers getting from the women of Hadassah after her father Shimon Maliach was murdered on the convoy. “My mother was left with five children. We were so poor. And then suddenly I got a package with beautiful dolls and coloring books. I’m a grandmother today but I will always remember that beautiful gift.”
Among others wreaths were those from HMO, by the nurses, and by the Egged bus company, then called Hamikasher, which lost drivers in the convoy. Barbara Goldstein, Deputy Director of Hadassah Offices in Israel, and Barbara Sofer, Israel Director of Public Relations placed the HWZOA wreath.
May their memories of our Hadassah family members who have given their lives out of dedication to heal the sick always be for a blessing.