Hadassah National President Marcie Natan and Barbara Sofer, Israel Public Relations Director for Hadassah, visited victims of terror in the Hadassah Medical Center’s intensive care units and the Sarah Wetsman Davidson (SWD) Hospital Tower.
Intensive Care Unit A
Their first stop was Intensive Care Unit (ICU) A, in the Judy and Sidney Swartz Center for Emergency Medicine. Among the patients they greeted was Risa Rotman, a Canadian-born mother of ten, whose husband, Howie (Chaim Yechiel ben Malka), was still unconscious after being attacked by terrorists in the Har Nof synagogue. Risa does medical writing and Howie works in the State Controller’s office. It was their dream to live in Israel and bring up their children in Jerusalem.
Risa told Mrs. Natan about the difficulty of her days and nights since the nightmarish attack with cleavers, knives, and guns on the men engaged in morning prayer. “I want to thank you for everything you are doing in this wonderful hospital for my husband,” she said. “I know that everything possible is being done for him.”
The staff of ICU A has been working non-stop to care for the survivors of the cluster of terror attacks and the riots in the north of the city. Among the survivors have been victims of vehicular attacks, shootings, and knifings, as well as a Palestinian youngster who was injured by a rubber bullet. “It reminds me of the old days of the intifada,” said Dr. Ruchi Hashem, the attending physician in the ICU. “It’s too busy and too sad.”
Intensive Care Unit B
In ICU B, Eytan Mualmi, another victim of the synagogue attack, also remains in serious condition. “The injuries were very bad,” said Prof. Charlie Sprung, who heads the ICUs at Hadassah. He adds: “My dedicated team works so hard and I’m so proud of them. I walk the streets of Jerusalem and see the fear that adults and children experience, and then I come to Hadassah, where Jews, Arabs, and Christians from around the world work together, treating everyone equally.” Prof. Sprung recalls that in the midst of taking care of the terror victims, Hadassah received a patient from Gaza who, while being transferred home from Al Makassad Hospital after being injured in Operation Protective Edge, suffered a relapse. “No matter how tense life is outside,” he says, “when I come to Hadassah, I enter a world where peace isn’t just possible–it already exists. That gives me hope and strength.”
The Sarah Wetsman Davidson Hospital Tower
Mrs. Natan and Mrs. Sofer then went to visit patients in the Sarah Wetsman Davidson (SWD) Hospital Tower. They were happy to see that former ICU patient Moshe Yonaton Aharoni, who was gravely injured in the Gush Etzion vehicular attack, had been transferred to a room in the Tower. His mother, Yakira, is a nurse who underwent brain surgery earlier this year. She sent blessings to all of Hadassah’s supporters.
Next, Mrs. Natan and Mrs. Sofer knocked on Shmuel Goldstein’s door. To their surprise and delight, Shmuel, who suffered multiple injuries while trying to subdue a terrorist, answered the door himself. A bandage wrapped like a turban around his head, a black kippah perched on that, wearing borrowed glasses (his were broken in the tussle with the terrorist), he greeted them warmly and thanked them for coming.
Shmuel was in the middle of reciting the final blessing of the Shmoneh Esray prayer, when he heard gunshots. “People were falling to the floor,” he relates. “We all took cover. One terrorist was shooting and the other hit us with a meat cleaver. He managed to hit me in the head, the ear, and the shoulder. I lay very still. I saw that one terrorist was trying to unjam his gun, and the other one had his back to me, so I jumped him. By a miracle, the first terrorist just yelled at me to leave the one I jumped alone and get out. I ran outside and a man literally gave me a shirt off his back. A fire fight took place. I was rushed to Hadassah. As soon as I woke up in the Hadassah emergency room, I said the prayer, ‘Thank you Hashem, the Giver of Life.’ I realized that He doesn’t give life only once. Now I appreciate that even more… that every moment that Hashem gives me life is a constant present.”
The Goldstein’s son, 12-year-old Mordechai, was also at the early morning prayer service, since he was getting ready for his Bar Mitzvah. He managed to crawl around the furniture and run out of the synagogue. He ran home and told his mother, Miri Heller Goldstein, what had happened. Since the attack, his mother has been consulting Hadassah’s post-trauma pediatric psychiatrist, Dr. Fortu Ben-Arush, at Hadassah-Mount Scopus for advice in helping her son overcome the trauma. “He phones me and will continue to guide me through this time so we can best help our son,” she says. “Mordechai is back in school, and has even walked home, but there is no denying what a terrible experience he went through.”
Miri, a nursery school teacher, says of her husband: “He’s so quiet and self-effacing, but when he had to protect himself and our son from the terrorist, he fought”!
Miri had enormous praise for the facilities of the Sarah Wetsman Davidson Hospital Tower. “I remember spending the night with my grandmother decades ago in the old building, and sleeping on the floor because there was no room for a mattress between the beds,” she recalls. “The new building makes such a difference in speeding recovery.”
When Mrs. Natan knocked on Shmuel’s hospital door, he had been busy writing letters of thanks to Prof. Avi Rivkind, head of Hadassah’s Trauma Unit, who had treated him when he arrived and followed his case; to Neurosurgeon Guy Rosenthal;, to the orthopedists under the instruction of Prof. Rami Mosheiff, head of Orthopedic Trauma; to Dr. Yoram Weill, who took care of his shoulder; and to the plastic surgery team under Dr. Alex Margolis. “They were so able to focus on his injuries and help him get better,” said Miri.
As much as they love the Tower, they were eager to get home to their nine children, including a two-year old.