For the 24th year in a row, the basketball stars of Hapoel Jerusalem came to Hadassah Hospital Ein Kerem to bring holiday cheer to the pediatric patients.
Parents wearing a mix of head coverings—kippot, scarves, and hijabs—and their children enjoyed the Hanukkah party. Speakers compared the tall and famous basketball players to the heroic Maccabees of the Hanukkah story, but when team captain Bar Timor spoke, he said, “We're not the heroes. You kids coping with sickness are the heroes. We hope that when we're back next year, you'll all be fully cured.
Speaking in English for the children was Boaz, age eight, a boy with chronic digestive problems. He read a speech with confidence, saying, “I spend a lot of time in Hadassah Hospital. I was here last year when you came, and I remember how happy you made me feel. I feel that way this year, too. Thanks so much for coming.”
The athletes, many of whom are from abroad, went room to room distributing gifts— backpacks filled with arts and crafts, toys, and other goodies. In addition, the pediatrics department received four virtual reality devices to distract children going through difficult procedures.
Prof. Eitan Kerem, head of the pediatrics division, thanked the players and wished them both Happy Hanukkah and Merry Christmas.