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Jerusalem Netletter: Israeli Independence Day 5774

Barbara Sofer

As we move from the solemnity of Memorial Day-remembering the 23,169 casualties of war and terrorism in the State of Israel-- we pay special homage to our Hadassah family members who continue to serve in the armed forces, in addition to their daily service at the hospital and villages we support.

Please meet one of them: Dr. Alex Margulis. In his day job, Dr. Margulis heads Hadassah's Pediatric Plastic Surgery and Craniofacial Unit, which he built from a service to a center to a unit over recent years. He fixes injuries of children hurt in terror attacks and accidents and those with birth defects.

Dr. Margulis completed his residency at Hadassah Hospital, and then did a two year Fellowship in Chicago Children's Hospital with world-famous plastic surgeon Dr. Bruce Bauer.

Says Dr. Margulis on his choice of specialty:

"I love the beauty of this profession which combines medicine and art. It's tangible, and at the end of the surgery you can see the results."

He also loves kids. He's married to Irit a social worker and they have three children of their own. You'd never know that this soft-spoken, gentle physician has a secret life.(Shh...) He serves as an Israel Navy Seal who has faced danger on and under the sea.

"I've always wanted to do my most for Israel," Dr. Margulis said between surgeries this week at Hadassah Ein Kerem, "I guess it's a family ethic,"

In the HolocaustDr. Margulis's grandparents fled Romania for Odessa Of a large family, his grandfather Nahum was the only Margulis to survive.

Alex was born in Leningrad, today St. Petersburg, to Miron, an engineer and Tamara, a cardiologist.

His father was a famous Refusenik fighting for the right to make Aliyah, along with other activists like Natan Sharansky. The family finally received permission to make aliyah in 1977. Alex was ten.

They moved to Haifa. Alex learned Hebrew quickly, excelled in school, and became an outstanding athlete. He was accepted to the pre-army *atuda*program and began his service as a doctor in the paratroopers.

But soon he moved to Shayetet 13, Israel's Seals. Special forces.

"I wanted to be in the most challenging unit possible in the IDF," said Dr. Margulis. "I believed I could cope with it, and wanted to give my maximum."

Dr. Margulis still isn't allowed to talk much about his secret life, but here's what Wikipedia says about his unit

"Shayetet 13 is the naval special forces unit of Israeli Navy,one of the primary special operation units of the IDF. S'13 specializes in sea-to-land incursions, counter-terrorism, sabotage, maritime intelligence gathering, maritime hostage rescue and boarding. The unit has taken part in almost all of Israel's major wars, as well as other actions. The unit is one of the most secretive in the Israeli military. The details of many missions and identities of active operatives are kept highly classified. The unit is arguably the best of the Middle East region's naval special forces units."

We know that the Seals enter enemy lands to carry out operations, stop intruding ships and protects our coast. It's considered one of the roughest, if not the roughest units in the IDF.

Our Hadassah doctor continued in the military reserves in this unit when he finished his regular military service. When he turned 45, he could have finished serving in the reserves, but he volunteered again. Now he's 47 and expects to extend his service,

"I love the unit and I love this country," he said. "I'm Israeli in my bones and in my soul. My dream is still securing freedom for us by overcoming the internal problems and striving for peace."

Independence Day? "We'll be up North with a group of friends and their families. We'll take turns barbecuing and telling stories. It's time to celebrate!"

From the very special places that bear the name "Hadassah," with pride, from the city of Jerusalem that Hadassah has helped build, from the homeland which for so many generations seemed like the impossible dream--a dream we have been blessed to see come true--and from our Hadassah home to yours, Hag Sameach!

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