|A Friday Story|
For longer than anyone can remember, far longer than the 63 years of the State of Israel we celebrate next week, Hadassah has been part of our landscape, our country, our consciousness. As far back as I can recall, Hadassah – especially the Hadassah Medical Organization – has frequently been recognized during the official ceremony that opens Independence Day festivities.
Many of our doctors have been awarded the Israel Prize, which is presented in a special ceremony on Yom Ha'atzmaut, Independence Day. Bestowed on those who make outstanding contributions to our country, the Israel Prize is the State's most highly regarded civilian award, akin to the U.S. Presidential Awards and Congressional Medals of Honor.
The evening begins with the lighting of twelve torches representing the twelve tribes of ancient Israel. Being chosen as a torch lighter is a special honor – and over the years, Hadassah's activities have been well represented here too.
On Monday evening, in affirmation of a century of caring and commitment, Barbara Goldstein will represent the great leaders of Hadassah, the Women's Zionist Organization of America – its 300,000 members and the hundreds of thousands of women that preceded them – as she lights one of the torches in their honor.
The torch is a fitting symbol of Hadassah's trailblazing accomplishments, especially in medicine. In the annals of Israel Prize winners, one of the recipients, Dr. Helena Kagan, represents Hadassah's earliest medical efforts. Her arrival in Jerusalem coincided with the two American nurses the women of Hadassah sent to tend to the needs of the population. Together they established a visiting nurse program for mother and child care. In 1918, when Hadassah opened its first hospital on Jerusalem's Rehov Ha'nevi'im, the Street of the Prophets – a gift of the Rothschild family – Dr. Kagan became Head of Pediatrics.
Since 1953 when the Israel Prize was established, half the honorees for medicine were Hadassah physicians; others began their careers at Hadassah. I have included a list below so that you can read about them and their accomplishments.
In the past few years, Hadassah has also been among the torch lighters. Prof. Nava Ben-Zvi, President of the Hadassah College Jerusalem, was recognized for her leadership in education; Prof. Yosef Shenkar, former head of HMO's Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, for his contribution to medicine. During the dark days of the Intifada when the government honored those involved the treatment and care of terror victims, Nomi Nalbendian, assistant head nurse in the Department of Rehabilitation, lit the torch for HMO.
Hadassah's activities can be seen throughout our land – in Youth Aliyah villages and JNF projects; in the Young Judeans who come for a summer, a year or a lifetime; in the halls of the Hadassah College Jerusalem – and most of all, in the world-class university medical center that proudly bears the name Hadassah.
We often speak of our hospitals as beacons of health, steadfastly shining from our two hills of healing. Our magnificent new Sarah Wetsman Davidson Hospital Tower is already a commanding presence on our Ein Kerem campus. And in just 45 weeks – when the first patients move into the inpatient departments on floors five, six and seven – the treatment we provide and the medicine we practice within its walls will make those beacons glow even more brightly.
Yom Hazicharon, Memorial Day, is an emotional day for all Israelis – filled with memories and mourning. Dina and I, like many people we know, have a very personal connection. My brother was killed in the Yom Kippur War; her father was killed in a terrorist attack.
Sometimes it is hard to make the rapid transition to Yom Ha'atzmaut that follows. While we celebrate the existence of a Jewish State, we are well aware of the price we have paid. As the poet Natan Alterman wrote about the very first Independence Day, they "are the silver platter on which the Jewish state was given."
This year, Yom Ha'atzmaut is even more meaningful for all of us whose lives have long been linked to Hadassah – both the organization and the Medical Center. The lighting of the torch – a very special and long overdue recognition of the women of Hadassah – will officially acknowledge their decades of dedication.
The institutions the women of Hadassah created – especially the Hadassah Medical Organization – attest to the greatness of this organization and to the vision, determination and daring of those who launched it on its pioneering path.
The Hadassah torch will light the way for us at HMO to continue onward, to provide more advanced patient care, to search for solutions to medicine's intractable problems, to serve our people and our country as we have done for 99 years.
Shabbat Shalom and Chag Atzmaut Sameach
Prof. Shlomo Mor-Yosef
Hadassah Medical Organization
Israel Prize Laureates in Medicine
Prof. Saul Adler headed the Department of Parasitology and served as Professor of Parasitology at the Hebrew University-Hadassah Faculty of Medicine.
Prof. Marcel Eliakim, an internationally respected internist who specialized in liver diseases.
Prof. Shaul Feldman, one of the first physicians in the world to use hormones and steroids for treatment of infectious diseases, headed the Department of Neurology for 20 years.
Prof. Ben Shlomo Lipman Heilprin, the first recipient of the Israel Prize for Medicine, headed Hadassah's Department of Neurology.
Dr. Helena Kagan, honored for pioneering pediatric care.
Prof. Isaac Michaelson, Director of Hadassah's Department of Ophthalmology, established the first generation of ophthalmology specialists in Israel.
Prof. Aryeh Leo Olitzki headed the bacteriology laboratories at the Hadassah Hospital and served as Dean of the Hebrew University-Hadassah Faculty of Medicine.
Professor Nathan Saltz, "the father and founder" of modern surgical medicine in Israel, headed Hadassah's Departments of Surgery.
Prof. Moshe Rachmilewitz, considered "one of the fathers of professional medicine in Israel," headed Hadassah's Department of Internal Medicine and served as Dean of the Hebrew University-Hadassah Faculty of Medicine.
Prof. Haim Ernst Wertheimer headed the Laboratory of Chemistry at Hadassah Hospital and the Hebrew University-Hadassah Faculty of Medicine.
Prof. Bernhard Zondek developed the first reliable pregnancy test in 1928 and served as Head of Obstetrics and Gynecology.
Prof. Yona Rosenfeld, former director of the Hebrew University's School of Social Work received his prize for Social Work. In another capacity, he has been a longtime member of the Israeli Committee of the Hadassah Medical Organization, which he chaired for four years.