|A Friday Story|
I wish you could have been with us Sunday night when more than 300 people gathered on the Hadassah Trail to celebrate Tu B’Av. Like all Jewish festivals, Tu B’Av begins on the evening before – in this case, the night of the full moon.
Somewhat akin to Valentine’s Day, it is known rather casually as a celebration of love, with its own special traditions. According to the Talmud, the 15th of Av marked the beginning of the grape harvest. On that evening, the unmarried girls of Jerusalem would dress in white and go out to dance in the vineyards and “whoever did not have a wife would go there” to find himself a bride.
At Hadassah we made a marriage of a different sort. Uniting the spirit of love with love of the land, we invited the community to join us at Hadassah-Ein Kerem where we walked about one-and-a-half miles of the four and a half-mile Hadassah Trail to Ein Hindak. This underground spring, which dates back 2,000 years or more, is one of the most beautiful stops on the Hadassah Trail and the point where the Israel Trail, the Jerusalem Trail and the Hadassah Trail intersect.
As we walked, guides pointed out the landmarks we could see in the moonlight, describing their history and significance. At some point along the way, a woman in white serenaded us with verses from “The Song of Songs” and further on, a couple of young singers from our staff sang special love songs, encouraging the crowd to join them. When we arrived at our destination, we were greeted with refreshments, a roaring bonfire, love songs and laughter. Dina and I had a wonderful time among the happy crowd that embraced people from about 18 to 80.
The evening was sponsored by Hadassah Yeruka, Green Hadassah, HMO’s volunteer environmental project, headed by Associate Director General Yaacov Schreibman and Amitai Rotem. About five years ago, with the assistance of the Jewish National Fund and Israel’s Society for the Preservation of Nature, Green Hadassah members of our staff began creating the Hadassah Trail, clearing the woods around our campus and marking the significant sites along the way. They have continued working on the Trail, which now extends to encircle the village of Ein Kerem. There are 25 information sites along the way, with maps and explanations. Taking advantage of modern technology – and the Israeli addiction to cell phones -- walkers can hear about the site simply by dialing the number posted on the sign.
We jokingly claim that the Hadassah Trail is "the wisest trail in the world” since so many professors and doctors walk along it every day.
More recently, Green Hadassah adopted a nearby olive grove, committing ourselves to nurturing the trees, watering and pruning them. When the olives are ripe, our recycling team will make sure they will be used.
The Hadassah Trail is probably the most visible of our efforts, but it is only one of our many environmental projects. On both our campuses you can find Green Corners, recycling centers with designated receptacles for used newspapers, plastic bottles, tin cans, batteries and printer ink cartridges.
For about twenty years, Hadassah has been home to a unique recycling team of young people and adolescents with cognitive, physical or mental disabilities. They proudly work throughout the Medical Center, collecting used paper, batteries, X-rays, nylon bags and toners from printers – everything that can be recycled – even office equipment. They also staff the Green Corner in the parking lot twice a week during morning hours and receive used bottles, cans, newspapers and batteries for recycling.
On a much more technical level, we constantly assess how our infrastructure is functioning and make important improvements. Right now at Ein Kerem, we are replacing two chimneys that were past their prime with upgraded models that better filter their emissions.
Out of sight – but extremely important – is our project to reduce energy consumption, which I call ‘gas from garbage.’ We have already applied for permits to harness the gas in the waste that empties into a river about six miles away from our Ein Kerem campus. When we receive permission, we plan to convert the gas into energy and send it through a pipeline to the hospital, reducing our dependence on crude oil. Our Mt. Scopus campus has already made the move from crude oil to gas.
In planning the Sarah Wetsman Davidson Hospital Tower we went to great lengths to ensure that it would be environmentally friendly. The building design incorporates advanced, energy-efficient air conditioning, heating, plumbing and electrical systems. Most of these measures are so sophisticated that they are difficult to understand, yet all of us can understand and applaud the use of recycled water in the toilets.
We were very gratified when Green Hadassah received the 2010 Ministry of Health award for our efforts, but it is even more exciting to see how our staff has embraced our projects. Like me, they believe that our social mission goes hand-in-hand with our medical mission. All our environmental activities help ensure that we – our patients and staff and the community around us – enjoy cleaner air, better water and a better quality of life. In doing so, we are bringing our workplace closer to our community and our community closer to our lives – making us all healthier and happier.