We gathered in the memorial garden that pays tribute to the convoy of 78 doctors and nurses who were tragically killed by an arab ambush as they tried to reach the hospital on 13th April 1948.
A very fitting, even sobering setting for the event that was to take place.
We were welcomed by past Hadassah National President, Marci Natan, who described the dire and difficult situation in Jerusalem as it was in 1948 before the War of Independence.
Director of Hadassah, Dr. Zeev Rothstein spoke about the exemplary work of Hadassah and took the opportunity to mention the need for a maternity unit and pediatric expansion.
Mayor Barkat told us about the miracle that our capital city, Jerusalem, is today, and his early childhood while growing up in a Jerusalem under threat. He spoke of the positive energy that is found today in the city, and of future developments. He told us, as others did, that Hi tech, life sciences, genetic research, computer sciences and more, are all working together for the future generations. That the Hadassah organization is a part of Jerusalem’s future, since it is a common denominator for all residents, whoever they are, for their quality of life, jobs, education, medical services. There is a plan to extend the light railway as far as Hadassah Ein Kerem, and to Mount Scopus, thereby linking the two hospitals by a fast public transport service.
50 years ago Israel needed investments. The hard work has borne fruit. The priorities may change, but reliance on Hadassah as a private partnership will always be necessary. He thanked the Hadassah organization on behalf of all residents, and ended by saying that we all have a lot to celebrate.
In 1948, as Mount Scopus was taken by the Jordanians, the IDF looked after the Hospital site for 19 years until Israel regained control in the six day war. The Chief Medical Officer presented the symbolic set of 2 keys to Ellen Hershkin, the current president of the Hadassah Women’s Organisation of America. A framed copy of the keys was presented to Mayor Barkat.
Ellen Hershkin told us that in 1967, when the hospital building was first re- entered, it was in a state of total neglect and devastation. Charlotte Jacobson, then President, had the job of raising the funds and putting a restoration plan into operation. This was 5 years after the Hadassah Ein Kerem hospital was opened, and renovation of the Mount Scopus building was now another major challenge.
When Hadassah descended from Mount Scopus, a vow was taken to return, and 26th President of HWZOA, Ellen Hirshkin re-avowed that this promise is eternal.
Director of the board of the Hadassah Medical Organisation, Erez Meltzer, told us a little of the architectural history. Patrick Geddes was the British original architect, but in 1934 Erich Mendelsohn, designed the building in Bauhaus style.
He reminded us that the late Yitzhak Rabin was awarded his PHD here, and told us that the IDF principles of spirit and morals are very similar to those held in the Hadassah organization. We must continue to go forward and build.
‘At the Summit of Mount Scopus’ was sung by Leah Migdal and played by Martin Niv.
Dr Osnat Levzion Korach, Director General of Mount Scopus Hospital told us that Hadassah in Jerusalem is not only a hospital; it is an icon, existing to fulfill the vision of the founders of the medical system for Jew and Arab, secular and religious, and has become a bridge of peace for anyone experiencing the hospital’s care.
Deputy Commission director of AID, Jonathan Canaan has strong connections with Israel having grown up in Katamon. This week he accompanied Melania Trump and Sara Netanyahu during their visit to Hadassah. Looking through the memorial book, he noted that in 1977 the USA had given millions of dollars for the renovations of the hospital.
Today the war being waged is different from that of 1967. It is a war against illness and disease.
‘Yerushalayim Shel Zahav’ was sung beautifully by Leah, who encouraged the audience to join in.
Rabbi Moshe Klein, Rabbi of Hadassah Hospitals recited the Shechechianu blessing and a rousing blast of shofarim blown by 2 young men ended the proceedings.
We were invited to a superb brunch that had been set out in the beautiful, relaxing and calming surroundings of the Health and Environment Garden.