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Hadassah Responds to Crisis in Israel on Multiple Levels

Ricky Cheung


(New York, NY -- July 17, 2006) -- With the crisis in Israel deepening and the circle of safety tightening, Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization of America, has taken a number of steps to both ensure the safety of those it serves and hold out a helping hand to others.

Over the weekend, it was determined by the Young Judaea staff, in consultation with the Jewish Agency for Israel and various other Israeli authorities, that the security of the 450 high-school students in various Young Judaea summer programs could be safeguarded. As a result, all were relocated to the center and southern parts of the country. Well into their programs, the kids were all looking forward this week to Special Interest Week, a fun-filled time when they were to engage in pre-selected activities. For instance, one group was going to do a “Sea-to-Sea Hike” from the Galilee to the Mediterranean; that trip has now been renamed the “Jerusalem-to-the-Sea Hike.” The vast majority of the groups will be in and around Kibbutz Ketura in the Arava, Eilat and the Negev Desert, far from harm’s way.

To date, less than a half dozen participants have left the program. June Walker, National President of Hadassah, whose own granddaughter is a program participant, said: “I have the utmost confidence in our Young Judaea team to ensure the security of these kids in the program. Neither I nor my daughter would ever consider bringing her home.”

In addition to safeguarding the Young Judaeans, Hadassah continues in its 93-year tradition of helping the people of Israel in times of peace and in times of crisis.

According to Walker: "We have often been called upon for medical assistance, but Hadassah offers so much more than that and it is our duty as Zionists to help out in whatever way will best serve Israel’s needs.”

Yesterday, Hadassah, which operates several Youth Aliyah villages in Israel, opened up Hadassah-Neurim, outside of Netanya, and Meir Shfeya, in Zichron Yaakov, to residents who had been relocated from northern Israel. At the moment there are some 400 young people at Hadassah-Neurim and 90 families and children in Meir Shfeyah. Among those at Neurim are a large number of very recent immigrants from Ethiopia, who had only just settled in Safed.

Hadassah College Jerusalem, a four-year college in the center of the capital, opened its doors to ORT Braude College of Engineering in Karmiel and the Kinneret College on the Sea of Galilee, offering the use of its facilities for testing, final exams and final projects.

As always, the Hadassah Medical Organization’s (HMO) two hospitals, Hadassah Medical Center in Ein Kerem and the Hadassah University Hospital on Mt. Scopus, are prepared to handle whatever medical emergencies and issues arise. Though the fighting is far from their doors, three HMO doctors have been sent to Safed to assist that beleaguered community’s hospital in treating the wounded.

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