Monday, July 19, 2010

Counteracting the meraglim II

Last year, in a post I referred to as an antidote to the meraglim, I discussed one of the many, many things I love about our wonderful Land: namely, the fact that Israel is a Jewish country. What follows is yet another example of this amazing phenomenon:

A Tale of Two Hospitals

In the comment section to my post on Israeli maternity wards, I reported that in the States, I gave birth in a Catholic hospital and added that:

“The hospital's logo - which included a cross - appeared on the hospital gowns, and each room had a small wooden crucifix on the wall.”

Now, as some of you know, one of the Shiputzim kids was born right before Christmas.

Unsurprisingly, this meant that the entire hospital was awash in trees and holiday decorations. In addition - despite my covered hair and YZG’s unmistakable kippah – many of the nurses kept gushing about our “lovely holiday present,” and at one point, I even found myself being serenaded by a group of carolers.

Fast forward to when our first sabra was born, and I was going to have to spend Shabbat in an (Israeli) hospital.

I was somewhat apprehensive about this, but as it turned out, I needn’t have worried.

On Friday afternoon, the staff placed a large table covered with Shabbat candles right outside the maternity dining room.

At first, I wondered why they had bothered setting up that many candles. After all, a significant portion of the women on the ward didn’t appear to be outwardly observant.

But sure enough, when the time came, almost every candle was lit.

Secular, traditional, national-religious, haredi – the divisive and meaningless labels faded away, and standing side by side, the new mothers welcomed the Shabbat as one.

And then, on Friday night – just as we were sitting down to eat - one of the mothers got up and announced that if anyone was interested, she was making kiddush.

Immediately, every. single. woman in the room rose to her feet and stood in respectful silence for the duration of the kiddush. And when it was over, everyone responded with a loud, heartfelt, and awe-inspiring “Amen”.

Words can’t do justice to that incredible, only-in-Israel moment.

However, I can tell you that as I wiped away a few not-so-surreptitious tears,  I looked around the room and noticed that many of the other women were similarly overcome by their emotions…

May this beautiful achdut (unity) become an everyday occurrence, and may we soon be privileged to witness the final Geulah (Redemption).

.יה”ר שיבנה בית המקדש במהרה בימינו


Have an easy and meaningful fast.


The latest Haveil Havalim is available here. Special thanks to Ima2Seven for including my visiting day post.


  1. Ah, that reminds me (lehavdil) of my stay in Schneider over Shabbat with a 5-day-old. Everyone lit candles in a special room with a fancy contraption that someone had donated, and the ceiling caught fire! Had to unplug the IV and sit outside the ward for a couple of hours while they cleared the smoke.

  2. Beautiful - amen! I fasted Tisha b'Av for many years, but last year was my first since I actually set foot in Israel. Now that's TRUE heartbreak - having just been there, feeling that ruach, and feeling it snatched away by life in chutz la'aretz. I never cried on Tisha b'Av before.
    Yehi ratzon that our family should join yours & so many others back there soon.

  3. So nice! Having had all of my kids here, it's not surprising to hear at this point, but definitely nice! I actually had my firstborn a few months after we made aliya, on the first night of Chanuka. My husband ran home to light candles, figuring that there was no way we'd be allowed to do that in a hospital - but lo and behold, about an hour later, some sherut leumi girls came around with a cart full of chanukiot, offering everyone a chance to light.
    How could any Jew not want to live here?

  4. Unfortunately, I did not have any kids here, but I also had the experience of having one of mine in a Catholic hospital in the States. It was ok-no holidays in August-but when my then 2 year old came to visit, and passed a statue of J.C. in the lobby he did manage to remark in a loud voice, just as a nun was passing by "Look at the funny man in a dress!"
    On a more serious note, I did have the experience of being in the hospital in the US for non-childbirth related reasons over Shabbos and yom tov and besides having to contend with my own pain, fear and disappointment over being separated from my family over yom tov, had to deal with this horrible nurse who sighed VERY loudly every time I asked for help with some Shabbat related act. We should not need to use hospitals here for other than happy occasions, but I imagine that at least that aspect you dont have to deal with as much.

  5. Great post and quite fit for this pre-fast day - and for other days too.
    While I am past giving-birth age, if I had to be in hospital, I'd certainly prefer one where I wouldn't have to worry about Shabbat, food and other issues.

  6. G6 - Thanks, and have an easy and meaningful fast!

    MiI - Great story! (Although it probably wasn't amusing while it was happening...)

    Jennifer in MamaLand - Amen, ken yehi ratzon!

    Toby - One Rosh Hashanah, I escorted a relative to the hospital and saw several volunteer shofar blowers making rounds of all the patients and their families.

    Malke - Very true! That Shabbat in the hospital felt like, well, Shabbat. Which is more than can be said for the Shabbos I spent with one of the Shiputzim kids in an American pediatric ward...

    Ilana-Davita - Good point about the food. It's truly a privilege to be able to eat the regular hospital food instead of overheated, double-wrapped airplane meals...

  7. In hospitals not near the center of the country there is the candles, the kiddush etc. BUT there is also the fact that half the people there are "cousins" whose entire extended family comes to visit and they dont stand up for kiddush and they bring in Chametz on Pesach.

    יהי רצון שנזכה לגאולה השלמה בקרוב!

  8. this was absolutely beautiful and truly touching. i could totally feel the moment, like i was right there with you! lovely post, thank you!

  9. Miriam - Amen! (How did the fast go, BTW?)

    Minnesota Mamaleh - Thank you so much for your kind words!


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