Some months ago, I was called by the visitors department to come to their office downstairs next to the Chagall Windows, to meet a visitor. This happens several times a day and I didn't think it was different this time.
Then I met Joani Rothenberg from Indianapolis.
Joani's love for Hadassah, for Zionism, for Israel, her enthusiastic and outgoing personality captured me instantly. A Hadassah Life Member, and a daughter of a Hadassah chapter president, she came with relatives to visit the hospital. But she also had a purpose. Being an artist, she wanted to do something for the hospital. So, while we toured the campus, we were also discussing an appropriate location of a large painting she wanted to make, especially for us. At the end of the visit we said good bye and agreed to be in touch. This was in August 2009.
We kept in touch. Joani sent me sketches and I made comments and sent her measures of a location in the entrance of the hospital main building at Ein Kerem. The week before last Joani came again, with her sister who lives in Israel, and this time she brought with her a beautiful painting, much more than it looked like in the pictures she had sent.
Last week Joani came for the third time, this time with her parents and other relatives. The painting was already hanging on the wall and everybody was very excited. We had a small ceremony, in which Joani spoke about what drove her to paint it and took some pictures. The painting is hanging above the piano in the lobby of the main entrance to the main building at Ein Kerem, next to the coffee stand. The small group of emotional English speaking people talking with excitement and taking pictures drew the attention of the many people who were buying coffee and walking into or out of the building, especially when one of Joani's friends sat at the piano and played for a while. It really moved people - an Israeli by-stander, who no one knew, joined us and started to sing outloud a popular song for Jerusalem.
And here is what Joani wrote about this:
I created this painting to merge the ancient and the present as well as medical discovery and knowledge surrounded by the beauty of Ein Kerem.
Miriam and Aharon, together the shepherds of Israel, depict the attributes of hope and peace/unity respectively. Miriam led the Jewish women in spontaneous song and dance at the splitting of the Red Sea and symbolizes the eternal message of hope inherent in the response of Jewish women to crisis and challenge- The peacemaker, Aharon, was the beloved leader who sought to alleviate strife and unnecessary pain within the Jewish nation. Aharon , the Cohen, literally and figuratively wore the diversity of his people upon his chest in the breastplate highlighted with the 12 gemstones symbolize the tribes of Israel.
Incorporated within the painting are several aspects of science and medicine which Hadassah is so well known for--a central image is DNA, essential to life as we know it. There are cells depicting a fertilized egg which is seen dividing as it develops--again, a powerful image for life. In the lower right-hand corner is an image of the fungus from which penicillin is isolated from--emphasizing the importance of antibiotics is preserving life. There are also several viruses scattered throughout the painting representing vaccines, again an important development in the advancement of medicine to rid us of disease.
The blossoming almond trees, olive branches, and the Judaean hills remind us of the beauty situated immediately outside the windows of the hospital. This natural beauty offers patients as well as caregivers an opportunity to recharge as they often find themselves having to deal with complex situations involving life and death.
A Special Friend
Osnat Moskowitz our director of development will leave us next week. I met Osnat 10 years ago when I interviewed her for this position. During these years she has been an invaluable asset to Hadassah in general and to HMO in particular. She also became a very good personal friend, not just an excellent director in my department. I'm sad that she's leaving and wish her lots of success in her new place.
Thank you Osnat and all the best!!