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The Jerusalem Netletter: High Holiday Edition 5772, September 2011

By Barbara Sofer


I recently rose at 4 AM to call Atlanta by Skype from Jerusalem addressing the large board meeting of the Southeastern Region. The theme was "Night in Israel" This is an exciting use of free technology that brings Israel into your board room and meetings for free. I'd like to repeat my message: Sign up now for Hadassah's Centennial Convention in Israel (October 2012) Just imagine how you'll feel in synagogue on Rosh Hashanah listening to the sound of the shofar and knowing that you are among the more than a thousand women and men who have already booked place at the Jewish people's celebration. Don't forget: to celebrate a happy occasion is an important mitzvah!

After signing off with Atlanta at 4:15 AM, local time Jerusalem, it was hard to fall back to sleep. I heard the muezzin calling from the Old City, and then the Slichot prayers from a nearby Sephardic Synagogue. At last, I heard the blast of the shofar that ends morning prayers for the month before Rosh Hashanah. The shofar is the ultimate wake-up call. There's no better time to re-commit to Hadassah than now to make sure you are carrying through your responsibility for the Jewish people.

*THE CALL EVERY PARENT DREADS Wrote Ephraim Shore, a well-known educator at the Aish HaTorah yeshiva in Jerusalem and founder of the Israel advocacy NGO Honest Reporting. "It was 10 pm when we got the call that every parent dreads. I knew it was bad when I saw my wife Esther's knees buckle and her hand grasp the wall for support. She handed me the phone. Our son Yaakov, 21, was hit by a car." Yaakov, a combat soldier, was home on leave. He'd been rollerblading near the Jerusalem Mall.

"As we made what seemed like an incredibly long journey to Hadassah Ein Kerem, my wife and I held hands and cried. I warned her to prepare for the worst. I was convinced that Yaakov was dead. I can't imagine any other scenario where then hearing that my child is undergoing emergency brain surgery would be a relief, but in this case it was. We were devastated, but there was hope."

The word spread throughout the world. From every continent, thousands of e-mails related wishes and reported special prayer services.

Inside the operating theater, Hadassah's neurosurgeons completed two skull surgeries; the orthopedists pieced together his smashed leg.

Then Yaakov was transferred to Hadassah's renowned Intensive Care Unit. His parents visited their son attached to the many machines, met the caring and brilliant staff, and prayed. They asked friends and well-wishers around the world to join a campaign called "Don't blame and don't complain," to emulate Yaakov's best traits. They urged: every time you think of complaining, try to look at the positive side. Don't be derailed by the small annoyances of life. Focus on the blessing as a life-strategy.

"It was indeed touch and go at the beginning," said Professor Charles Sprung, head of Hadassah's ICU. Finally, the pressure in Yaakov's swollen brain went down to levels the doctors felt were safe to begin the process of allowing him to wake up. It took four days to slowly wean him off all the heavy drugs.

"With trepidation, we waited for him to awake, " said his Dad. "Would he recognize us? Would he know how to talk, or had the brain been damaged in that area? Would he have the same personality? Would he ever again be able to walk, taste, read or do other basic things? Life was one giant question mark. All we could do was pray with all our hearts to the Master of the universe: 'Please bring us back our Yaakov!'"

One night, Yaakov's army buddies spelled the Shores at the vigil by Yaakov's bedside. Their phone rang, "He's awake. He recognizes us and understands."

"When we stood at Yaakov's side and saw him smile at us, his eyes glassy but shining with recognition and life, we once again had trouble standing. He couldn't yet talk, but when my wife bent over to kiss him, he somehow found the strength to reach out his hand to caress her cheek and to say 'I love you.'"

For Yaakov Shore, the last four months have been a long journey of recovery. Through Hadassah, each of you has been part of that recovery.

After three weeks at Ein Kerem, he moved to the rehab unit at Hadassah Mount Scopus. Today, Shore continues three times a week with cognitive and physical therapy. In recent weeks he has been walking without his crutches, and his memory has vastly improved. He'll be in the synagogue with his family on Rosh Hashana.

Ten thousand miles away, in Los Angeles Yaakov's cousin Sydney Shore celebrated her Bat Mitzvah this month. In lieu of presents, she asked guests and friends to say thank you to Hadassah for helping to save her cousin. This is what she wrote on her website: "On May 23rd, 2011, my cousin Yaakov was very badly injured while rollerblading in Jerusalem. At first it wasn't clear whether he would even live but thanks to the hard work and dedication of the intensive care unit at the Hadassah University Medical Center in Jerusalem he's now awake, talking and although there's still a long way to go we're hopeful he's on his way to a complete recovery. (If you'd like to know more, check out <http://www.yaakovbenesther.com.)

"Aside from scaring my entire family, this made me rethink how I wanted to use my Bat Mitzvah money. My parents asked the staff at the hospital what we can do to help them in the future. They need a cooling blanket. This isn't an ordinary blanket. It's a very expensive and very needed piece of high tech equipment that regulates body temperature. For people with head injuries, their body temperature can fluctuate a lot and this affects brain pressure which can be the most serious issue after these accidents, as it was for my cousin."

Sydney Shore, raised $38,000. <http://www.rootfunding.com/campaign/sydneybatmitzvah> A Bat Mitzvah of life-saving mitzvah.

*BONDING WITHOUT WORDS Yuri Grossman shares no common language with the American yeshiva students he meets daily in the kitchen. He's been working as a chef's assistant in the food services of Shapell's -Darche Noam Yeshiva in Jerusalem for more than a decade, but hasn't picked up more than a handful of English words from the American-born chef, nor from the yeshiva students. He helps prepare 130 meals for each sitting, chopping buckets of Israeli salad, receiving the truckloads of potatoes and zucchini from suppliers, and most important-makes sure the food is served on time so that the rigorous day of Torah study can proceed on schedule.

He didn't know much about Torah study until he got the job, but Grossman understood about schedules and productivity. He'd worked most of his life in a Soviet factory in Kharkov, Ukraine, a city that specializes in production of machinery

He admits a certain culture gap with the youngsters. Despite the yeshiva's excellent regimented meal schedule, Grossman wonders at the behavior of the students, who insist on entering the kitchen at all hours. The majority of students are newcomers to Jewish studies. They don't know more than a word or two of Hebrew. "Just todah rabba, Yuri," says Grossman, smiling.

Last winter, the usually energetic Yuri Grossman didn't feel right. He uncharacteristically missed work because of stomach aches. A virus, he thought. He'd always been slim, but to his horror one morning he couldn't button up his pants. "I had a belly like a pregnant woman," he said, showing his former shape with his hands. "I called my son. He told me to go straight to the Hadassah Hospital."

Good news was not waiting. His spleen was enormous. After several days of testing he learned that he had cancer: mantle cell lymphoma, a lethal form of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma which most commonly strikes men in their early 60s. Yuri Grossman was 61. Dr. Alex Gural, a hematologist born in Moscow, explained to Grossman that his best chance of survival would be to take Velcade, a medication which targets the protein regulators that had gone awry in his lymph system. There was one problem. The medication was so expensive that it was only covered by the Ministry of Health basket of medications as a second line of defense, after less expensive methods failed.

Said Dr. Gural, "There have been excellent results with this drug. He was already stage four cancer. Why wait for the disease to come back to start using it?" Without health coverage, enough Velcade for an initial course of chemotherapy would be cost $15,000 dollars. The young men and women who had studied in Israel had seen Grossman in the kitchen every day donated the funds within 24 hours.

Grossman has finished the chemotherapy and is feeling good, although he tires easily. "Just ask my doctor. I'm a star patient," Grossman says. He cannot shower enough praise on Hadassah. Dr. Gural is cautiously optimistic. "Yuri has had what we call very good results," he says.

Let us keep Yaakov Shore, 21 and Yuri Grossman, 62 in our thoughts as we pray for health in our holiday services.

President Shimon Peres had just gotten up from sitting shiva for his brother Gershon, but he didn't want to cancel his meeting with Hadassah. He hosted a changing of the guard at Hadassah, praising immediate past President Nancy Falchuk for taking Hadassah through rough times, ("and you did it brilliantly") and welcoming and wishing well President Marcie Natan. Among the attendees at the special reception were also 2 Hadassah past presidents: Marlene Post and Bonnie Lipton.

President Peres congratulated Hadassah on playing a vital role in the effort to bring an end to the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.He praised Hadassah and said that no institution better models a place of complete peace under the most demanding circumstances than Hadassah, referring to Hadassah Hospital's equal treatment of Jews and Arabs by Jewish and Arab staff. "You have made the most important investment in peace."

"Why is it," he asked, "that we can get along when we're sick, but can't get along when we're well?" Natan spoke of the changing of the guard at Hadassah and Hadassah Medical Organization (HMO) and introduced the President to Prof Ehud Kokia, the incoming Director-General of the HMO. Peres, who is often prescient about the future, predicted that Hadassah would be a major player in the next phase of Israeli priorities. He said that Israel has gone from an agriculture-based economy to one that was based on electronics. The top priorities over the next decade are medicine, biology and brain research, which are all areas in which Israel excels, said Peres, and in which Hadassah will be a significant force. "You should be proud," he told the delegation. We are.

*Centennial Factoid: Hadassah has already played a major role in the development of biological and medical research. From the beginning, Hadassah staff have seen research as a major component of health care. Follow back the CV's of Israel's Nobel Prize scientists and you will see they received their start at Hadassah*.

*DO NOT BE SILENT ON CAMPUS In this week's haftarah, we read those oft-quoted words of the Prophet Isaiah, " For Zion's sake, I will not be silent, for Jerusalem's sake, I will not be still."

My colleagues and I often have the opportunity to address groups of college and post-college kids who arrive for the 10-day free adventure in Israel called birthright Israel. Hundreds of young people having the time of their life come through Hadassah Hospital to appreciate the accomplishments in medicine and humanitarian care, and also to learn that they, too, as members of the American Jewish community, can feel proud. Each group includes IDF soldiers, the most maligned of Israelis on their campuses. We tell them, "These soldiers risk their lives to protect you. Now pledge to protect the good name of the IDF wherever you are in the world. Do not be silent and do not be still."

Remember that Hadassah was among the first organizations to step forward with funds to launch birthright Israel. Young Judaea remains a content-provider for this groundbreaking program of the Jewish people.


Instead of turning east after the National Business Meeting in Las Vegas, I flew west to Honolulu, where hospitable Hadassah Hawaii arranged a variety of speaking and media engagements to build enthusiasm for the centennial year. How moving it is to fly so far from home-13 hours time difference-and to find a community so devoted to the Jewish people and Israel. One of the honorees at the chapter installation ceremony at which I spoke was veteran-Hadassah member Lillian Maltzan, the first Jewish nurse in the islands. She told how when she came in 1943 to the US Naval Base, her boss let it be known that she wanted to fire her because she was Jewish. "But she was fired and I got her job," said Maltzan. That's the Hadassah spirit!


We've met our share of movie stars at Hadassah Hospital, (Jane Fonda, Richard Gere, Natalie Portman to name a few) but I particularly enjoyed the visit of Gray's Anatomy stars to Ein Kerem. Because the stars play doctors and nurses, they had a pretty good idea of what happens in a hospital, and they had excellent questions. I was waiting for the meeting in the Shock Trauma Center with our own Professor Avi Rivkind, who has starred in many TV news programs, and I wasn't disappointed. The Gray's team was wowed. "He reminds me of Charlton Heston," said Keith McKidd who plays Dr. Owen Hunt. He was describing our real, but larger-than-life trauma surgeon, Avi Rivkind. The stars were fascinated by their visits to the hospital, the mix of Jewish and Arab patients, and particularly the opportunity to question Dr. Rivkind about how he keeps his cool when he has to treat a terrorist. Prof Rivkind volunteered to help the actors with any difficulties they have in the roles, and McKidd said that he'd love to play Avi Rivkind in a Hollywood film about Hadassah Hospital!

*CENTENNIAL FACTOID: Hadassah was the first Israeli hospital to open a trauma unit. Hadassah's is the first medical school to demand that sixth year students take a course in treating terror victims which includes a make-believe terror attack*.

*HADASSAH DOC GETS VOTES IN UNFRIENDLY EUROPE From Europe's top trauma organization: Hadassah Professor Rami Mosheiff has been elected as the Chairperson of the European Trauma Counsel, (AOTrauma) He will sit on the International Trauma Board. Seven candidates posted their candidacy for top position with more than 40 countries participating in the electronic voting that took place over a period of two weeks. Considering the difficulties Israelis are having in European academic forums, this is a great honor for Hadassah and Israel. Professor Mosheiff grew up in Jerusalem, and received his education at Hadassah. FYI, a long time ago, I was his English teacher. He was in school together with Ido Nehoshtan, who is now the head of the Israel Air Force.

Professor Charles Sprung, head of the Intensive Care Unit, received the European Society of Intensive Care Medicine's most prestigious medal. The medal was awarded for his leadership in changing the way intensive care medicine is viewed and for advances in the standard of care. Born in the USA, Professor Sprung is one of our physicians who is both a doctor and a lawyer. Mazal Tov, Hadassah world leaders!

*A HOT MEAL MAKES THE DIFFERENCE FOR TEENS At this season with so much talk about food, we can all appreciate how much having a hot meal means to our hungry teens in youth villages. Thanks to a generous donation from Ronit Raphael, who owns a chain of aesthetic centers, through Hadassah-Israel, the non-residential students at Hadassah-Neurim can also eat lunch at the village cafeteria. "Having lunch totally changes what we're able to accomplish in the afternoon in a long school day," says village head Natan Biton. Thank you, Hadassah.

*CENTENNIAL FACTOID: Hadassah was a pioneer in creating nutrition and home economics programs within Israel's school system in the1920's. All the children had to pay something, as little as a penny, for a hot lunch so they wouldn't feel they were getting charity. They would not only get a meal, but bring home messages of good eating habits to their families. This was a lynchpin of our early public health program*.

*HOLIDAY GIFTS: LIFE MEMBERSHIPS Looking for a special holiday gift for your hostess, your daughter-in-law or your mother? Here's something that always fits: a Hadassah Life Membership.

*CENTENNIAL FACTOID: Did you know that the Boston Chapter piloted life memberships in 1935, but the program wasn't adopted nationally until 1949?

**MAZAL TOV TO ELI AND EINAV You remember Eli Mantson, who dropped out of school and worked in the Netanya market for two years before getting a second chance at education at Meir Shfeya Youth Village. He was born in a hut in Ethiopia, and today is a lawyer in Israel. Eli married his high school girlfriend Einav, from a Moroccan Jewish family. They are the proud parents of a little girl, Yaheli, (my celestial light) That's the same name given to the daughter of Shimon Ohana whom many of you will remember as the Border Guard from Beersheba who was brought back to life at Hadassah. Mazal Tov.

*BEGINNING THE YEAR WITH GOOD DEEDS Over 260 beautiful young people have begun the best year of their lives as participants in the Young Judaea Year Course. They're beginning the year with volunteering in every sector of Israeli society, in Jerusalem, Arad and Bat Yam. Stay tuned for news of their progress and about our many educational institutions who have started the school year.

In the meantime, a wonderful 5772!

Audrey Shimron, Executive Director, Hadassah Offices in Israel

Barbara Goldstein, Deputy Director and Torch lighter

and me,

Barbara Sofer

Israel Director of Public Relations

Hadassah, the Women's Zionist Organization of America


Date: 9/26/2011 12:00:00 AM

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