Letter From Jerusalem, No. 16

Letter From Jerusalem, No. 16

Shaare Zedek Hospital opened in 1902 on Jaffa Road, a 20-minute ride on muleback from the Old Walled City of Jerusalem, where most of the people lived. It had 25 beds when it opened and was the most modern hospital in the Middle East at the time. In 1979, it moved to a new campus about 10 minutes away in a new 10-story facility.

The hospital is now Shaare Zedek Medical Center with more than 500 beds. A new building for Pediatrics and Mother Care opened at Shaare Zedek, which is still one of the most modern facilities in Middle East, where 20,000 babies are delivered every year.

On Friday night and Saturday (Shabbat) the entire staff is Arab, including doctors, nurses, orderlies, etc., so that the Jewish staff can be free on the Sabbath. They are all trained at our medical schools here in Israel. About 40 percent of the patients are Arab and they are perfectly comfortable in the hospital.

On International Knitting Day, my knitting group was working in the hospital's lobby made available to us by Shaare Zedek, when several Arab women, who were either visiting in the hospital or had someone there as a patient, asked if they could join us. They were warmly welcomed and they asked if someone would teach them how to crochet the finger puppets that were the project of the day. There are patterns for everything from a sea lion to an elephant. The doctors find if they wear the puppets when they visit the pediatric wards the children are much more cooperative and less stressed.

I've been a volunteer at Shaare Zedek for more than 30 years. The best job I've had during that time was working in the newborn nursery. I and other volunteers would come in a 7 am and undress the babies, the nurses would bathe them and then we would redress them and take them to their mothers for "breakfast." Each one was a miracle and you could see their personality on the first day of their lives.

Shaare Zedek is a private hospital supported in great measure by donations. It is known as the Hospital With A Heart.

Anita Ellis