Difficulties in getting the registrar of non-profit organizations to provide a
certificate of proper management for the capital’s Bikur Holim Hospital is one
reason why haredi businessman and journalist Dudi Zilbershlag resigned before
Rosh Hashana as hospital board chairman, The Jerusalem Post
Instead, former Israel Medical Association chairman
Dr.Yoram Blachar has agreed to take the job. Zilbershlag, who
remains on the board of the voluntary organization that runs the 120- year-old
hospital in the city center on the edge of haredi neighborhoods, told the Post
on Sunday that the request for the coveted approval from the registrar, Alon
Bachar, who works under the aegis of the Justice Ministry, has gone unanswered
for a long time.
Without the certificate, the hospital cannot continue to
The hospital is still largely owned by Israeli-Russian tycoon
Arkadi Gaydamak, who left the country – apparently for good – more than a year
ago and who despite running (unsuccessfully) for mayor of Jerusalem, has no
intention of coming back. The voluntary organization of haredim from which
Gaydamak bought his share continues to own part of Bikur Holim.
paid $32 million for the hospital and its properties, which he has wanted to
sell for more than a year. He has not given the hospital any of his own funds
during that period.
Zilbershlag said a few weeks ago that two vying
groups, one Israeli and the other from the US, are competing to buy Gaydamak’s
share and that “there should be news after the [Succot]
Zilbershlag, a publisher of haredi newspapers, said he hoped that Blachar’s appointment – along
with that of former health minister from the Shas Party Nissim Dahan – to the
board would induce the ministry to help the hospital.
and Deputy Health Minister Ya’acov Litzman (United Torah Judaism) have not been
on speaking terms for a long time because of the IMA’s constant fights with
Litzman over the basket of health services and his intervention on medical
issues due to religious concerns.
Bikur Holim representatives met two
weeks ago with ministry director-general Dr. Ronni Gamzu, who is currently in
Moscow, but nothing resulted from that meeting, according to reports. Litzman
has not intervened in the long-troubled hospital’s financial problems, allegedly
because of internal disputes within Agudat Yisrael, which is part of
Asked to comment on his meeting with hospital officials, Gamzu’s
spokeswoman said via e-mail that he met with hospital management and with
officials from the registrar’s office.
She added that his ministry has
checked the hospital’s medical operations.
“Even though the hospital is
functioning well, there remains the concern about its functioning in the future
because of its financial situation,” the spokeswoman said. “As part of its
responsibility, the ministry will check that the hospital’s function is suitable
from all aspects in coordination with the registrar of non-profit
Gamzu would not allow other senior-ranking ministry
officials to comment until he returned from abroad.
“It might be
something personal,” Zilbershlag suggested when asked why the registrar’s office
has balked at granting the certificate. “I don’t know what they have against me.
But it has been a long time [waiting for the certificate].”
said that if no financial help is obtained by the end of the year, the hospital
will have a deficit of over NIS 12m., which cannot be allowed, as it legally
must have a balanced budget.
“We are talking to the workers’ unions about
making some of the paychecks a loan to us,” he added.
Asked about the
sudden resignation of hospital chief nurse Anita Meir, who has worked there for
40 years but has not reached full pension age, Zilbershlag conceded that “she
didn’t intend to leave now, but she did.”
Zilbershlag insisted that Bikur
Holim is justified in continuing its service to the public because of its
importance, especially to the haredi population. The number of deliveries in its
obstetrics department, for example, has risen to No. 2 in Jerusalem, behind
Shaare Zedek Medical Center and ahead of Hadassah University Medical Center in
Ein Kerem, according to medical director Dr. Raphael Pollack.
observers have noted the resignation of several of its leading medical experts
and the much reduced activity of a number of key departments.
left the IMA chairmanship a year ago and works as a pediatrician, said he has a
soft spot for Bikur Holim because he was a medical resident there decades ago
and knows Zilbershlag. The outgoing chairman previously offered Blachar the
“presidency” of the hospital (such a post did not exist) and suggested he
replace Motti Shtauber, its director-general, who resigned a few months ago.
Blachar turned him down, but agreed to chair the board.
“If I did not
think I could contribute something to the hospital, I would not have agreed,”
Blachar said. “Bikur Holim has potential.”