Welcome to the Cincinnati Chapter of HADASSAH! > Local and Regional News > SHAI Program Liasons Named

SHAI Program Liasons Named

Hadassah members Amy Fisher and Ilana Liss have recently been named the new volunteer liaisons of the SHAI program, a collaboration between Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, the Jewish Federation of Cincinnati, and the Cincinnati Chapter of Hadassah.   SHAI is an acronym for Support, Hospitality, and Assistance for Israelis.

The SHAI program was created as a partnership between Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, the Jewish Federation of Cincinnati and the Cincinnati Chapter of Hadassah to welcome Israeli doctors and nurses to our community.  Israeli doctors and nurses come here from various hospitals throughout Israel to observe or do fellowships at Cincinnati Children's for terms ranging from 2 weeks to 3 years. Volunteers provide help with finding schooling, housing and other services.  

To volunteer to provide hospitality, email cincinnati@hadassah.org or call (513) 821-615.

Amy Fisher and Ilana Liss, the Hadassah liaisons of the SHAI program.
Ilana Liss and Amy Fisher, the new volunteer
liaisons of the SHAI program.

The Israel Exchange Program (IEP) of Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center works to improve the health of children worldwide through partnership with 8 leading Israeli medical centers and universities. Through these partnerships, Israeli and Cincinnati Children’s physicians jointly treat patients with complex conditions in both Cincinnati and Israel; 10 Israeli clinical and research postdoctoral fellows are currently training at Cincinnati Children’s,  dozens of Israeli physicians, nurses, and students come for short-term training each year; grants are awarded to support collaborative research; international conferences in Israel are co-sponsored with Cincinnati Children’s and Israeli engineers are partnering with Cincinnati Children’s surgeons to develop cutting edge medical devices.

The generosity of Jewish community members make many of these initiatives possible through philanthropic support as well as through the Bikkur Cholim and the Federation’s My Family on Call, which provide volunteer support for visiting Israeli patients, physicians, and their families.

Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center (CCHMC), The Jewish Federation, and the Cincinnati Chapter of Hadassah all recognized individually that visiting Israeli doctors and nurses, particularly the long-term Fellows, were going to have housing, schooling, spouse employment, and other requirements that would need to be addressed once they were here. There was also a sense that these visitors should be welcomed into the Cincinnati Jewish community, and that their involvement provided a valuable opportunity for the community to learn more about Israel.

Felicia Zakem, Development Officer at the Jewish Federation of Cincinnati, said: “The Federation was providing many of these services already but we often found ourselves reaching out to Cincinnati Childrens or Hadassah for names of people who might like to invite a doctor or nurse over to their house for a Shabbat meal or take them on a tour of the city. It just made sense to combine forces and share knowledge and resources, in an effort to do a better job of reaching out to our Israeli guests”.

Thus was born the SHAI program, and the committee that heads it up, in the fall of 2013 “ to combine, expand, and further formalize the on-going efforts of the Jewish Federation, Hadassah and Cincinnati Childrens, to provide hospitality to Israeli short-term observers at Cincinnati Children’s, and  more extensive services to long-term Fellows and their families, “ according to its mission statement.

Hadassah Cincinnati chapter President Bonnie Ullner stated that her organization was, prior to the formation of the SHAI program, “ providing these services solely to Hadassah doctors and nurses who came to Cincinnati Children’s hospital on either a short term or long term basis. But we were more than happy to collaborate with Cincinnati Children’s and the Federation because at the end of the day our goals are the same, that being to make sure that any Israeli hospital staff member coming to our city feels welcomed and has as easy a transition as possible, whether they are coming here for a week or a few years.”

SHAI Committee members:

  • Felicia Zakem - Federation
  • Yair Cohen - Federation
  • Michelle Kohn, Regional Manager for Israel - CCHMC
  • Ilan Goldman, Patient Coordinator - CCHMC
  • Carol Ann Schwartz - Hadassah
  • Bonnie Ullner - Hadassah
  • Nina Paul - at large
  • Amy Fisher and Ilana Liss - Hadassah volunteers who take care of the day-to-day running of the program

Since its inception, the SHAI program has done the following:

1. Hospitality to four Tel Aviv University students who were here for 3 weeks in January 2014. Included 3 Shabbat dinners in people’s homes, attending a Federation program ( "Israelity" series speaker) at Adath Israel, and skiing with Access members at Perfect North. One commented that he had been to the east coast and the west coast before and had heard that people were friendlier in the Midwest, and now he knows first hand that what they are saying is true!

2. Dr. Benjamin (Benny) Koplewitz, Hadassah radiologist, attended Shabbat dinner with other CCHMC Israel fellows at Nina and Eddie Paul’s house, brunch reception for the community at Carol and and Michael Schwartz’s house, and an Israeli film festival movie accompanied by a community member. Benny commented that he was “overwhelmed by the warmth  of the Cincinnati Jewish community” and would “go back to Israel and share with all of my colleagues that CHncinnati is a wonderful place to go, both in terms of the excellent Children’s Hospital in which you will work and also the way you will be welcomed into the community.” 

    3. Communication with Hadassah doctor Oded Volvolesky, a nephrologist, coming this summer for three years with his wife and children, about anticipated needs for housing, schools, synagogue, J membership, etc. His biggest concern is that his wife get a job, as he indicated it is very important to her that she work in her field of social work, and anything we could do to help would be greatly appreciated. Committee members sent emails to their contacts with her CV, and job postings at JFS and the Federation were sent to Oded. He was overwhelmed by the response he received from the SHAI program and wrote :

    “I really appreciate your assistance and it really warms my heart and it makes me feel much better to leave my home and come to you. This is one of the reasons I chose to come to Cincinnati and not other places.”

    According to Michelle Kohn, “In addition to Cincinnati Children’s being one of the top pediatric medical centers in the United States, the warmth of our Jewish community and the volunteer support provided to visiting Israeli patients and trainees is something that makes Cincinnati stand out when recruiting Israelis to come here.”

    Click here for more information on the Israel Exchange Program at Cincinnati Children's.



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