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Sharing the Vision

Diary of A Director General
By Prof. Ehud Kokia
Director General, Hadassah Medical Organization

Dear Family and Friends of Hadassah,

The Hadassah Medical Organization has always enjoyed a special relationship with the American Embassy in Tel Aviv and the American Consulate in Jerusalem, based of course, on our common American connection. HMO was founded, is owned and sustained by Hadassah, the Women's Zionist Organization of America; the Embassy and Consulate represent America abroad. HMO serves the Consulate personnel and is the back-up medical facility for American dignitaries – members of Congress, members of the administration and even the President and Vice President – when they are in Israel.

A few weeks ago, we were proud to present Hadassah to the newest American Ambassador to Israel, Dan Shapiro, his wife Julie Fisher and her mother, Jane Fisher. In many ways though, it was somewhat like a family reunion. Julie was raised in a Hadassah home in Duluth, Minnesota, where Jane was president of the Hadassah Chapter. Jane's two daughters and six granddaughters are all life members and her son-in-law, the ambassador, a Hadassah Associate. This was their first visit to Hadassah-Ein Kerem. However, Ambassador Shapiro had been to Hadassah-Mt. Scopus on a previous trip to Israel, and was well aware of Hadassah's activities from his years in government service and his time as a student at the Hebrew University.

Despite his impressive credentials and his significant status, Ambassador Shapiro and his family still maintain the open and easygoing manner of their American Midwestern roots. During our description of the Medical Center and tour of some of our buildings, they were engaged and involved, expressing admiration for HMO's accomplishments, our high level of clinical care, outstanding research and the education we provide for the next generation of Israeli physicians.

Our mutual American connection was reinforced by our Jewish and Hadassah connection – strengthening the bond between the American Jewish community and Israel.

"This is just a beginning for us, just a taste," Ambassador Shapiro said. "It means a great deal to us – to Julie, Jane and me. We look at Hadassah as the premier medical institution in Israel for the services you provide Israelis. You have everything in one place – science, medicine and academics. Hadassah is a shining example of American-Israeli cooperation. This is an institution that really embodies the American-Israeli partnership."

As we walked through the Department of Pediatric Hematology and Oncology, I told them how deeply I believe that Hadassah serves as a bridge to peace. "This is the spirit of Hadassah translated into something people understand, the connection between our mission statement and our day-to-day activities." I said. And as we walked and talked, it was clear that the Ambassador and his family share this vision. Along the way, Ambassador Shapiro stopped to speak to patients and their families – in Hebrew to 13-year-old Or and his mother from Jerusalem and in Arabic to 18-year-old Ismail and his father from Gaza.

"Hadassah makes an incredible contribution to building bridges to peace," Ambassador Shapiro said en route to the Sarah Wetsman Davidson Hospital Tower for a preview of the facilities that will open on March 19, just five weeks from now.

With workmen scurrying around us, we entered one of the large elevators designed to transport patients, exiting on the fifth floor, which will be the first to receive patients in the Department of Urology and the Orthopedic Center. "I'm proud to be a small part of this," Ambassador Shapiro said, examining the patient-oriented design of the rooms and taking in the amazing view of the Judean Hills that the patients will have.

In the Maxwell and Fanny Abbell Synagogue, Barbara Goldstein, Deputy Director of Hadassah Offices in Israel, explained the significance of the Chagall Windows, in her own inimitable style. "This is a tribute to the great values we share," she said, stepping forward to attach his Associates pin to his lapel.

We are proud of the Jewish values we share, the American values reflected in Israel's democracy and most of all, of the special Hadassah connection that binds us.

A few days after the Ambassador's visit, I had occasion to think about Marc Chagall and the genius embodied in the glorious Windows that grace our campus from a different perspective. At the time, I was not in Jerusalem, but in London for a very special event that took place at Christie's, the internationally renowned auction house. In my next diary entry, I'll describe this elegant and important event, yet another international connection that unites us in Israel with world Jewry, and the dreams and goals we share through Hadassah.

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