Israel’s Pre-Pesach Rush to the Hospital

When my daughter came stumbling through the door holding back tears I knew something was wrong. She should have been skipping with joy along with her hundreds of thousands of peers across Israel who had just been let out of school for a substantial Pesach break. But since her pains and tears continued through the night and we ended up in the hospital, we’ve now had the privilege of spending the first day of vacation with some of Israel’s most inspiring youth.

As things went from bad to worse I thought that the first day of spring break would forever serve as a bookmark for bad memories. Yet what I didn’t realize was how our daughter’s misbehaving appendix – causing immense pain, emergency surgery and a prolonged hospital stay… would open our eyes to some incredible joy and inspiration for the future.

What goes without saying is the thanks we have for the wonderful people who are close to us and sprang forth to help. The dedicated staff at Shaare Zedek Medical Center, our tireless family, supportive work colleagues, and dear friends, we are incredibly grateful to all of them. But this day has cast a light onto a whole new group of people who deserve a special mention. They are today’s youthful volunteers.

On this day in particular, when kids and teens should have been enjoying some downtime, they were flooding into the hospital to bring sweets and smiles to the patients. Little kids with their parents, teens with youth movements, gap year students by the bundle, and rag-tag young adults singing and delivering gifts to children like ours. They were from all stripes of Israel’s colorful society. New olim and long-standing citizens, religious, secular, and everything in between.

Normally we are proud of this mix on the receiving end. How Israel provides first-class care to everyone, equally.  But that equality is one of basic needs. Something we have grown to expect and I would never want to see change. Today we met something on a higher level. A society that GIVES equally. That helps, together. The ongoing mix of volunteers from all walks of life continued to fill this pediatric surgical unit with positive energy and holiday spirit. The result? A day filled with pain, trauma and dizzying drips of medication was overturned by an endless stream of strangers delivering nothing but warmth and joy.

מי כעמך ישראל Who is like you o’ Israel?

I can tell you that as a nation we are argumentative, overzealous, and – well – downright difficult at times. But we also have a rich generation of youth who are devoted, caring, optimistic and resolute. Today I witnessed them display an indiscriminate commitment to others, from all walks of life, that inspired me profoundly. I believe that with this foundation they have the potential to take Israel very, very far into the future.

And we have been inspired to get better quickly, to make it home on time for Pesach!

About the Author
Yoni Sherizen is a director of Gesher, a Jerusalem-based organization devoted to bridging the differences between Israelis and strengthening a shared Jewish identity.