The Annual Hadassah-Israel Conference "Israel Celebrates 70" was held this year for the 4th time, at the Yehuda Hotel in Jerusalem.

The day started with Greetings by Nira Greenstein, the Hadassah-Israel President, and by Pesia Tamir, President of the Bat Yam Ner HaLayla Chapter, who organized the conference.

It was followed by a joint session (English and Hebrew speakers) with Barbara Sofer, HWZOA PR director, who showed some inspiring films about Hadassah.

Then the two groups split up for separate lectures in Hebrew and English.

  1. The English speakers heard a talk by Sherwin Pomerantz, who told us that we have been privileged to grow up in the best 70 years of mankind –from 1946-2016. We heard of Israel's economic and Hi-Tech successes. Our future is based on economic development in the fields of investment by foreign countries; new technologies, Cannabis research; Artificial Intelligence including Blockchain Technology and banking.

תמונות מהכנס

pdfסחלב על הכנס השנתי של הדסה ישראל לשנת 2019

He then discussed the Risks in front of us:

  1. There are no "policemen" – Autocrats arise and democracy is threatened
  2. The USA is less committed to Israel
  3. It is not necessarily good to make alliances with countries which have a "problematical" government (eg Hungary, Brazil).

However he said that we need to look for the positive in the future: we must thank past years for enabling us to transform the dream into a reality and enable us to get where we are.

In parallel the Hebrew speakers heard the ex-chief Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau speak about his experiences in the Holocaust.

  1. The next speaker was Rabbi Rafi Feuerstein, one of the founders of the Tzohar group of modern orthodox rabbis, who formed this group 21 years ago to create better relationships between the different groups/cultures in Israeli society, and create bridges, with the message that religion belongs to the People and is not for religious people only. Their efforts include meaningful marriage ceremonies and creating an alternative kashrut, to loosen the grip of the ultra-orthodox Rabbinate on life events.

Rabbi Feuerstein works at the Feuerstein Institute founded by his father Professor Reuven Feuerstein. This is an international education, treatment and research center, which uses a ground-breaking learning method to help children and adults from all backgrounds, religions and etiologies overcome cognitive and social disabilities and maximize their potential. For example integrating children with special needs into regular schools. Another example he gave was bringing 13 Ethiopians who would have never passed the usual psychometry tests, to the Hadassah Medical School and 4 have already graduated.

  1. Professor Freda Dekeyser Ganz, Director of the Hadassah School of Nursing definitely considers that the Nursing School played a part in creating the State of Israel. She talked about how Henrietta Szold came to Jerusalem in 1916 and saw the need for nurses to treat the general population. At first she sent groups from the USA to work in Public Health in Palestine but they would later return to the USA. She realized that the need was for local nurses to work with sick patients, and the first Nursing School was set up 100 years ago. 400 women applied for 40 positions! In those days and for many years, the nurse was an accessory to the doctors. However now nurses do research and advise doctors. In 1975 Hadassah Hospital was the first place in Israel to set up a University program for nurses, which over the years expanded to include a Clinical Master's Program (2001) and since 2016 a Doctoral program is also available. From 2018 a fast track for outstanding students has started. She cited some examples in Hadassah of nurses doing doctoral research.

Challenges for the future include different ways of teaching –not frontal but to actively engage with patients; how to teach student nurses after a long day of work; and simulation training using dolls or doctors to act as examples, instead of hospitalized patients, so that it is less threatening and gives better patient safety.

The parallel Hebrew-speaking track included Professor Dekeyzer Ganz, followed by Israel Prize recipient Mrs Miriam Peretz, who spoke about "The State of Israel – the dream, the pain and the hope". (See the separate article by Penny Wenger.)

The evening Gala program included installation of the 2019 Executive Committee, followed by The Tel Aviv University Dance Ensemble with a nostalgic and lively Israeli dance performance. It continued with two spirited young singers Sigal Dacklan and Reut Yehuda in a special performance of "Israeli songs of all times". Finally, as always, Hadassah-Israel members young and old joined in the singing and also danced energetically and with great enjoyment to their music. 

Next morning the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Esther Hayut, spoke to the Hebrew speakers.

In parallel, the English speakers opened with a Workshop on "Ideas for fundraising projects and How to recruit new members". It was ably run by Levonah –Modiin co-presidents Ellen Shemesh and Rose Scharlat. Those present spoke in short about their chapter and gave ideas. At the end, pages of suggestions sent in earlier by the presidents were handed out and we hope that some of the ideas will be applied. (See also protocols taken by Rita).

This was followed by a talk by Avigdor Kahalani, Former Brigadier General and Minister, who spoke about his family's personal catastrophes, his life and advancement in the army, participation in Israel's wars where he was wounded several times, and his leadership and heroism in the Yom Kippur War. (See Mira's article).

Finally in the morning Dr Tamar Elram, Director of the Hadassah Hospital of Mt Scopus, first stating that Mt Scopus symbolizes not only the history of Jerusalem, but also of the Jewish people. Mt Scopus is already mentioned by Yosephus Flavius as overlooking the Temple Mount. She discussed Henrietta Szold's background, including the fact that she taught new immigrants to the USA how to integrate there. She reminded us that Mother's Day in Israel is in the Hebrew month of Shvat – on the day of Henrietta's death. She continued to speak about Dr Haim Yaski, an opthalmologist, who first suggested building the hospital at Mt Scopus and connecting it to the Hebrew University which was already standing there.  The stone setting was in 1934. It was planned by Eric Mendelsson, a  leading architect.  Until the massacre on April 13, 1948, Mt Scopus was an enclave. Dr Yaski was one of the 78 killed in the massacre. From 1948-1967, there was only a military presence there. The Ein Karem Hadassah hospital was built in 1962. Mt Scopus is the only hospital on the northeastern side of Jerusalem and is not large enough to deal with the large population in the area (now more than 50% of Jerusalem's population).

Thus there is now a Masterplan to build a new campus in the future. Present unused land belonging to the hospital will be built on over the next decade. There will be an 11 story high Inpatient Tower, a Rehabilitation Center, New Emergency Medicine Building, Further Medical Services buildings and a Residential Area. The historical Mt Scopus buildings will be used for outpatient services and research. Also, eventually the Mt Scopus and Ein Karem campuses will be connected by the light rail transport system.

Dr Elram also mentioned Game-changers that have just become available at the present Mt Scopus campus:

  1. New Delivery rooms close to the street have been opened in December 2018.
  2. The Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory will be opened in February 2019. At present this service is only available on the other side of Jerusalem at Ein Karem or Shaarey Tzedek. It is estimated that 300-500 patients will be treated and saved, annually.

Dr Elram, herself an obstetrician/gynecologist, is very impressed with what she has learned about Rehabilitation. She calls its activities "Redefining Hope"! Learning to walk again, to diaper one's child etc – many staff are needed –physiotherapists, occupational therapists, psychologists etc. She mentioned the acute lack of beds (for which we are fundraising), which often delays the start of rehabilitation and may result in less ability to return to maximum capabilities. The new unit will have room for more than 100 beds, it will also have rooftop "Healing Gardens".

Dr Elram also mentioned some of the treatments which Mt Scopus physicians have participated in worldwide, including:

  1. Plastic surgeons in Mexico –correcting cleft palates in children
  2. "Coexistence" A haredi baby with a rare intestinal disease was given very expensive nutritive treatment and when he was cured, the rest was given to a Palestinian child with the same disease.
  3. Medical clowns – Iraqis were trained here and sent back to Iraq to work there.
  4. Orthopedic Surgeons sent to Ethiopia to treat back spinal scoliosus
  5. Cardiac surgeons treated Syrian children in 2018 (see on Youtube). "He who saves my baby's life is not my enemy".

The last event was a joint session with greetings by Isaac "Bougie" Herzog, Chairman of the Jewish Agency for Israel, but through a misunderstanding, he spoke only in Hebrew.

The conference ended with raffles, followed by singing of Hatikva and then we all dispersed, looking forward to next year's conference, to be run by the Shoshana Chapter of Netanya.