Last Sunday, like Hadassah families around the country, I joined a local rally in my community in Great Neck, NY, to stand in solidarity with Israel and her right to defend itself. As I did, I held the patients and staff of Hadassah's hospitals in Jerusalem — and their families — in my mind.
Through the terror of last week, the story of Yigal Yehoshua's kidney stands out.
Yigal was on his way home from a Torah-dedication ceremony on May 10 when he was caught in the violence that erupted in the Arab-Jewish town of Lod. Rioters threw a brick, hitting Yigal in the head. After those injuries took his life a week later, his family consented to donate his kidney.
Yigal's legacy won’t be defined by the rioting that took his life. Instead, his story is one of hope. At his funeral, his family spoke of his life — and his commitment to coexistence.
As bombs and rockets flew back and forth between Israel and Gaza, two Muslim surgeons at Hadassah Hospital Ein Kerem transplanted one of this 56-year-old Jewish man’s kidneys into a Christian Arab mother of six, Randa Aweis. After nine years of Hadassah treatment, Randa desperately needed a kidney for this lifesaving transplant.
"I can already feel a difference in my body, and that's thanks to the wonderful work of Hadassah," Randa said as she recovered from her surgery. "We — Christians, Muslims and Jews — must all strive for peace. All of us." In a tearful call, she shared her gratitude with Yigal’s widow and family.
This is our Hadassah vision of healing and shared society, even when the rockets and the bombs are falling, and as we stand up for Israel's right to defend itself and denounce antisemitism and anti-Zionism.
"We are here, all together, Jews and Arabs, of all religions, working, showing up for every medical emergency and leaving everything behind to take care of the sick," Dr. Shaden Salameh-Youssef of Hadassah Hospital Mount Scopus told The Jerusalem Post. The first Arab woman to head an emergency department in Israel, Dr. Salameh-Youssef put it this way: "We can be a light, a candle shining in the darkness."
That light shone brightly this week, as staff at Hadassah’s hospitals launched a video campaign to highlight Jewish-Arab cooperation and camaraderie at Hadassah, singing in Hebrew, "Together all the way. Together, there is no other way."
We must not underestimate the power these stories have, and how they help people near and far see the Israel we know and love. This light in the face of violence can, as Dr. Salameh-Youssef put it, help shine the light on the path forward. It can change the way others see our beloved Israel.