President’s Column: Legacies
Several weeks ago, I was sitting with friends in the lounge of Jerusalem’s Inbal Hotel. It was closing time and as I got up to leave a man approached and asked if he could speak to me. He told me his name was Adi Gast and he wanted me to know that Dr. David Linton, the director of intensive care at Hadassah–Hebrew University Medical Center at Ein Kerem, was a righteous man, a tzaddik.
Late last year, Mr. Gast’s elderly mother was on a ventilator in an intensive care unit in London. Doctors there were apparently unsure whether the main problem was in her heart or her lungs, but advised that she was likely to remain on the ventilator for good. Mr. Gast started researching his options and was eventually led to Hadassah in Jerusalem.
Dr. Linton is not only a skilled physician but was also instrumental in creating the first air ambulance service in Israel. He flew to London and then flew back to Israel with Mr. Gast’s mother. During the flight he was able to take her off the respirator. After six days at Hadassah Hospital, she was released. Mr. Gast took no chances: He found his mother an apartment in Jerusalem, so she can be close to her doctors.
On the day I met Mr. Gast I had had a rare luxury: a little extra time, which allowed me to do some wandering inside the Sarah Wetsman Davidson Hospital Tower, our new state-of-the-art inpatient center, for the first time since it opened in March.
As I walked through the tower that day, I was overwhelmed to the point where all the superlatives, all the accolades, I had uttered about this majestic healing center seemed inadequate. Seen up close, the space, the light, the stone and—most of all—the purpose of the building were simply stunning. My encounter with Mr. Gast was the perfect ending to the day because it reminded me that reality can carry more wonder than the heady sensations I had felt in the tower.
The Davidson tower is Hadassah’s gift to Jerusalem and the people of Israel. It is filled with the most up-to-date technology without which we simply couldn’t offer the best medical treatment. But the key to Hadassah’s success is something that hasn’t changed since those first two nurses arrived in Jerusalem a century ago: caring.
The combination of the gleaming medical center and Mr. Gast’s human-scale story is a window on Hadassah’s history. As we mark our Centennial—in this special edition of Hadassah Magazine, at our upcoming convention in Jerusalem, in our chapters and in our hearts—it is important to remember that we celebrate not only the advances Hadassah has made but also the values we have kept. Our passion for healing, for building a better world and a stronger Jewish people, is the thread that connects us all to Henrietta Szold’s generation.
Those women would not be familiar with the latest imaging equipment, but they would immediately recognize the dedication of Dr. Linton and the rest of our staff. That staff is led by Dr. Ehud S. Kokia, who took over last fall as director general of the Hadassah Medical Organization. Dr. Kokia embodies the Hadassah vision and ethos: As dedicated as he is to completing the tower project, his personal mantra is “patient care.”
The High Holy Days will soon be upon us. This is the season in which we renew our dedication to our values. But Hadassah’s Centennial is a renewal of renewals, an occasion not only for expressing pride but also for strengthening the bond between ourselves and the ethics of our mothers.
That day I walked around the tower I had time to reflect, and I felt a palpable sense of renewal. It reminded me how much I care about the people we touch through our work and how much I care about all of you whose energy and dedication are the foundation of that work.
May this New Year season strengthen our dedication and add to our wisdom. May we be worthy of the legacy given to us and may we enrich that legacy for future generations.