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August in the Air

Diary of a Director General
By Prof. Ehud Kokia
Director General, Hadassah Medical Organization

Dear Family and Friends of Hadassah,

There is something about the air in Israel in August that feels different. Even though we continue to experience what seems like an unrelenting heat wave, “with temperatures higher than normal for the season,” there is a hint of fall in the air, of a return to the normal routine that the beginning of the school year brings – the school year that began today.

Life in Israel in August can also become somewhat difficult as the day camp season ends and the last three weeks of the school summer vacation loom large on the horizon. Some parents look upon this as a time for family vacations; others find themselves engaging in a variety of child care arrangements with relatives and friends, taking time off from work and sometimes bringing their child or children to work with them.

To help make life easier for our employees and provide an interesting alternative for their children, earlier in the month we held our first-ever Hadassah summer day camp. The week-long program was designed to keep the children busy and challenged while their parents were at work. Along with a full program that included arts and crafts, games and adventures on the Ein Kerem campus; one day involved a trip to the zoo and a special surprise; another, a movie and ice cream and a third was simply called Chocolate Day.

“The planning and program were based on the pilot project we ran during the intermediate days of Pesach,” explained Varda Schwartz, Events Coordinator for the Division of Human Resources, headed by Vardit Ben Shalom “We tried out our ideas on children whose parents are part of the Division.

“We learned a lot from that trial run and learned even more as we planned the actual camp. The day began at 8:00 am, but parents could drop their children off at 7:30. We made sure the children had a healthy breakfast and a hot lunch. An outside professional and two assistants handled all the activities for the 50 five-to-10-year olds in age-appropriate groups. We charged the minimum we could, with HMO subsidizing about a quarter of the cost,” she said.

The children reflected the entire spectrum of Hadassah employees – their parents work throughout the hospital as doctors, nurses and technicians, in housekeeping and administration.

“Yehonatan loved it,” said his mother Becky Peretz, Coordinator in the Department of Development, Donor and Events, speaking of the boy in blue in the picture on the right. “He had a great time at camp and told me that Hadassah is an amazing place. It was fantastic for me as well – and a great solution for one of those end-of-the-summer weeks.“

Like some of the other six-year-olds at the camp, Yehonatan and Becky had taken part in the First Grade Happening that the Division of Human Resources ran a few weeks earlier. This summer, as we have for the past eleven years, we again held this very special party for incoming first-graders, and once again all Hadassah workers whose  children had reached this important age came together for this special experience.

Newcomers to the HMO staff like myself often remark on the unique cohesiveness and sense of family that exists on both our campuses and throughout our Medical Center. Our HMO family is an extended one, embracing spouses and significant others, children and grandparents. Just as we are part of their lives, they are part of ours – that’s what makes Hadassah special. As the children return to school and we to our more regular routine, we are busy preparing for the Centennial Convention in October and the dedication of the Sarah Wetsman Davidson Hospital Tower. Spring, summer or fall, this is a special and exciting time in Hadassah’s life. I hope you will join us in Jerusalem and share these experiences with us.



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