The Impossible Takes a Little Longer
With the approach of Thanksgiving and Hanukkah, I am reminded that living with two calendars—one secular, one Jewish—can often cause scheduling challenges. But despite many popular sayings about not trying to do two things at once, I am convinced that routinely syncing our lives to parallel date cycles and internalizing two frames of reference actually confer an advantage in time management.
Juggling objectives and crises is certainly a constant theme in the Hadassah story. In many ways we embody the old Israeli adage attributed to David Ben-Gurion: “The difficult we do immediately. The impossible takes a little longer.” In our first decade, we fought a cross-ocean battle to plant the seeds of public health in Palestine amid World War I and a global flu pandemic. In the 1930s, we planned—and never stopped construction of—the first modern medical center in the Middle East, despite the Great Depression. In 1948, during Israel’s War of Independence, we lost our hospital building on Mount Scopus and spent the next 13 years strengthening the new nation’s health care system, even as we operated out of a collection of satellite buildings in central Jerusalem.
In 1961, we moved our medical operations to a new home, the gleaming campus in Ein Kerem with our iconic Round Building at the center. Fast forward to 2012 when we dedicated the state-of-the-art Sarah Wetsman Davidson Hospital Tower, adjacent to the landmark edifice that served us so well for half a century. And as we gradually transferred all inpatient facilities out of the Round Building, we also began planning for its renovation—a project that became even more urgent as the Davidson Tower approached 100 percent capacity.
“Looking forward to Thanksgiving, I am feeling extraordinarily grateful for all that Hadassah has accomplished.”
We began the renovation project in January 2019, and a little over a year later the coronavirus plague swept the world. While some cities and nations directed the unexpected flood of patients to hospital ships, convention centers, fairground tents and other improvised sites, Hadassah found itself with the rarest of treasures—an empty hospital building on a fully equipped medical campus. The Hadassah Medical Organization became one of Israel’s primary hosts for Covid-19 cases, and our staff has done heroic work on treatment, testing and research.
In the face of a global emergency, the renovation was put on pause. But the project, 360° of Healing: The Full Circle Campaign, is now back on track—even as treatment of Covid-19 patients continues. When completed, the reimagined Round Building will have added two stories to its existing aboveground eight-floor structure. Among its features will be four internal medicine units and a greatly expanded dialysis unit. Staff will have larger workspaces—and they will be closer to patient beds than before. Our goal is to have the Round Building infrastructure completed by the end of 2022, hopefully coinciding with the scheduled extension of Jerusalem’s light rail system to Ein Kerem.
It would be an understatement to declare 2020 a tough year. But looking forward to Thanksgiving, I am feeling extraordinarily grateful for all that Hadassah has accomplished and for how much we have served the people who depend on us. Despite incredible obstacles in our path, we persevered. Much like the generation of our founders, those of us in America and in Israel were physically isolated from one another but we never stopped adapting, multitasking, planning and working together in pursuit of healing.
And, as Hanukkah nears, we can be equally thankful that we continue to build and strengthen the sovereign Jewish state, responsible for its citizens and serving as a light unto the nations in medicine, technology and service in many other fields.
Getting through this year would have been a challenge even if we measured time by a single calendar. A momentary glance at November and Kislev tells me that the multitasking involved in following two calendars made the impossible a little easier.
A well-deserved, Happy Thanksgiving and Hanukkah to us all!