Hadassah Hospital’s 2019 Chanukah Miracles: How could one begin talking about Hanukkah miracles without mentioning baby Eitan Iri Guertzenstein?

True, he’s one of the more than 14,000 babies born at Hadassah’s two hospitals this year, and each is a miracle. Still, Eitan Iri, son of Aluma Mekaitan and Mikael Guertzenstein, was the featured miracle story of Israel’s popular daily newspaper Yediot Ahronot on Sunday, right before the lighting of the first Hanukkah candle.

Aluma was a 17- year-old high school student on her way to a math test in a prestigious Jerusalem high school when a terrorist blew up her bus. She was left among the dead at first, but a medic saw her move an eyebrow. A young neurosurgeon from Argentina was visiting hometown colleagues at Hadassah Hospital Ein Kerem when Aluma was brought in. He was an expert in repairing catastrophic brain injuries using a then-new method of inserting thin metal coils into the damaged blood vessels. He joined the Hadassah team operating on Aluma and was so moved by the need to save terror victims like Aluma that he decided to stay in Israel. Today he is Prof. Jose Cohen and he has saved thousands of lives.

When Aluma woke up, she needed to learn to walk and talk again at Hadassah’s Mount Scopus Rehabilitation Center. Her right arm remained paralyzed, but she managed to complete three university degrees. Almost ready to give up on completing another life goal of getting married and having a child, she nearly hung up the phone when Mikael Guertzenstein, a new immigrant from Lausanne, Switzerland asked her out. She had a cold. He, a chef, made her soup. The rest is history. Almost to the day, 17 years after the 17-year-old was saved at Hadassah Hospital, her beautiful and healthy baby came into the world with the help of Hadassah’s experienced obstetrics staff. In the Yediot news story, Aluma also thanked the members of Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization of America (HWZOA), who have remained by her side.

And the brit (circumcision ceremony)? It was held in the Abbell Synagogue under the Chagall Windows. Representatives of HWZOA were there, and so was an emotional Prof. Cohen, who held the baby before letting another surgeon—the mohel—bring Eitan Iri into the covenant of Abraham and Sarah, and also into the Hadassah family.


Prof. José Cohen as the guest of honor next to the proud parents and baby boy