Below is a letter I that sent to my classmates who began their medical residencies in the United States today:
In a few short hours, you will begin your lives as residents. I want to wish you good luck on day one and to remind you that you possess the talent, the training, and the will to excel at the next stage.
In a few short weeks, I will join you in the next stage from this side of the ocean. But not today. Today we grieve. There is a palpable sadness in the streets of Israel. Eyal, Gilad, and Naftali are gone.
As the tragic news broke last night, my wife and I found ourselves at a loss for what to do. We made our way to the Western Wall, seeking comfort in the company of others who had come to mourn. Once there, I found myself at a loss for what to say. I settled upon a verse from Rambam’s Prayer for the Physician:
תזכני להביט על כל סובל הבא לשאול בעצתי כעל אדם, בלי הבדל בין עשיר ועני, ידיד ושונא, איש טוב ורע; את האדם בצר לו – הראיני רק את האדם
“Preserve the strength of my body and soul that they may ever be ready to help rich and poor, good and bad, enemy as well as friend. In the sufferer let me see only the human being.”
Over these trying few weeks, one heartwarming reminder of humanity made its way into the news cycle. Throughout the rescue efforts, the uncertainty, and the heartbreak, Israel’s doctors care for patients from all walks of life. It has always been this way, it will always be this way, and soon I will have the honor and the privilege to make this way my life’s work.
And you my friends, you who will begin to practice under the bright lights of the Northeast, the vast plains of the Midwest, and the majesty of the Rockies, you will spread this message to your new locales. You will reflect on how you looked beyond labels and saw only patient and loved one, mentor and friend. You will remember how as Dr. Udeh coronated you into the field of medicine, it fulfilled both your professional dreams and Herzl’s vision for a nation built upon coexistence. And you will represent your Alma mater – and the land it calls home – with dignity and pride.
Good luck my friends, and Godspeed