January 3, 2018, Hadassah Hospital, Israel
Two bearded Jews and a Muslim walk into an elevator. Sounds like the beginning of a joke but it is not. The joke is the one the media and some Arabs play on the world.
I was in Hadassah hospital in Jerusalem for the better part of the week. My dear mother had surgery and I was there every day, all day. A wonderful volunteer group arranged hospitality for Shabbat so family members can be close to their hospitalized family member. This is truly a wonderful service, all the food is donated anonymously and each week a different religious couple volunteers to run the religious services, arrange for family members to sleep in vacant offices and serve the food.
Jews are not permitted to kindle a fire on the Sabbath or use any form of electricity, but they can benefit if another does these actions while not being asked to do so by a Jewish person. Thus if a Gentile walks into an elevator a Jew may follow him but not tell him to take any action. So after several trips up and down the five flights I did not mind a "free ride".
As I was walking by the elevator the door opened and a clean shaven man walked in. The bearded Jew standing next to me clearly wanted to join the ride but did not want to benefit from the religious transgression of another Jew. If the person entering and operating the elevator was a Jew; we could not enter. So my bearded friend says, "Are you a Jew?".
The man replies, "I am a Muslim, hop on in". The Muslim asks, "What floor?" and the bearded Jew replies, "Whatever is good for you". What he means to say is, "I am not allowed to tell you what to do on the Sabbath, for it will be as if I am doing it myself."
The kind Muslim understands, hits a few buttons and sees the approval on the face of the Jewish passengers. I look at the man and I thank him for his kindness and understanding. He replies:
"Look, we the simple people want to live in peace with you. We have nothing against you, it is the political leaders and some crazy people who are making all the trouble."
I smile, shake his hand warmly, call him a righteous man and we part ways as his stop arrives.
Hadassah Hospital. Look at the walls. On every floor the walls are covered with names; the names of the donors who built this place and keep it going. Look at the names: Goldstein, Goldberg, Goldfarb. Katz, Klein, Kahn, Cohen. Silverman, Silverberg, Silverstein. Feinberg, Fein, Fingerhut and Fensterheim All Jewish names.
I look around and the place is filled with Arabs. Everywhere you look you see women in the long traditional Arab dress. I hear Arabic. I see a new born coming out and the family gathers around and utters verses from the Koran. These Muslim Arabs have nothing to fear. They are at home here.
But who built this place, who funds it?
The hospital was founded by Hadassah, the Women's Zionist Organization of America, which continues to underwrite a large part of its budget today.
Yes, a Jewish organization, a Zionist organization, but this does not mean we do not welcome Arab patients. Not only patients, the hospital also provides employment for hundreds of Arabs; doctors, nurses, orderlies, on every level.
In 2005, Hadassah was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in acknowledgment of its equal treatment of all patients, regardless of ethnic and religious differences, and efforts to build bridges to peace.
And I think of the horrible lies spread by the enemies of Israel: Occupation, Apartheid, Oppression. And then I open my eyes and I see: Cooperation, Coexistence, Opportunity for career advancement.
The Muslims feel safe and welcome on every level at the "Zionist" hospital. I saw them put out their prayer rugs and pray. No one stopped them, there is no "oppression". And it infuriates me that the world believes the lies, the propaganda of our enemies. Live with us in peace and you will have everything, life, success and the pursuit of happiness. Fight with us, initiate terrorist attacks and you will certainly be deserving of the worst punishment we can mete out.
In our family there is a tradition; when a girl reaches a certain age she receives a gift, a life membership to Hadassah women. My mother, my aunts, my grand mother and great grandmother....all volunteers for noble causes. Hadassah women built and maintain a hospital that is open to all: Jews, Muslims, Christians. All can enter, all can work there, all can receive medical treatment. And I hear the lies of our enemies who speak of racism, apartheid, occupation and other such nonsense and I am filled with rage.
A Muslim girl enters "our" room. She is a nurse in the Zionist Hospital built by Jewish women. She looks at some of our Shabbat food and sees what we call "Jerusalem kugel" and says, "Oh yes, I know this food, Ashkenazi (Eastern European Jewish) food. I tried to make it but it did not turn out so well.
The Jewish women in the room begin to discuss recipes with the Muslim nurse; just women discussing cooking. No, this is not a joke, this is the reality, if only you let it be.
Let the truth be told.
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About the authorMoshe Katz