Grapevine: When Lapid visited ZAKA

December 31, 2015 13:30
3 minute read.
PRIME MINISTER Benjamin Netanyahu greets Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko in Jerusalem

PRIME MINISTER Benjamin Netanyahu greets Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko in Jerusalem. (photo credit: KOBI GIDON / GPO)


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■ IN THE course of the state visit to Israel last week by Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko, his wife Maryna – a physician by profession – visited the Alyn Orthopedic Hospital and Rehabilitation Center to learn what methods are used in Israel to help disabled children improve and, in some cases, to recover.

Maryna was escorted by Alyn director-general Dr. Maurit Beeri. Poroshenko, who prior to the birth of the first of her four children worked as a cardiologist, is extremely interested in child welfare, in which she is active in Ukraine, and makes a point of learning about different aspects of child welfare when accompanying her husband abroad.

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■ THE VISIT to ZAKA headquarters in Jerusalem last week by MK Yair Lapid was featured on several haredi websites, eliciting mixed reactions.

Lapid’s frequent calls for haredim to do their share in shouldering the national burden, especially with regard to National Service either in the army or as civilians, has not earned him any brownie points. In many haredi circles, he is regarded as an enemy. One reader of a haredi website called him a rasha (an evil person) and told him to stay away. But another, with a more gracious attitude, wrote that one shouldn’t insult people who are descended from illustrious ancestors because to do also degrades the ancestors. Lapid is descended from the great Rav Shmuel Shmelke Klein of Sellish, who was known as a noted Torah scholar.

Most of the ZAKA volunteers are haredi, or at least from the National Religious camp, but there are also Beduin among the volunteers. Lapid met with ZAKA chairman Yehuda Meshi-Zahav and ZAKA volunteers, who included Yehiel Oering, Shimi Grossman and Yossi Fraenkel.

Meshi-Zahav briefed Lapid on ZAKA’s activities and stressed how important they are during the current wave of terrorism. He also noted how many additional challenges volunteers face under the existing circumstances. Lapid said that he had wanted to visit ZAKA for some time to express appreciation for the “holy work” its members are doing.

Commenting on the fact that the volunteers come from a variety of backgrounds but work together in harmony and mutual respect, Lapid lauded ZAKA as “a model for coexistence” and said that the whole country should live that way. He said that he was very moved to be in their presence and offered to help them in any way he could.

Both Lapid and Meshi-Zahav spoke of the frequency of terrorist attacks, with Meshi-Zahav telling Lapid: “It is very important that you should meet those ZAKA volunteers who every day rush toward those places that others naturally tend to run away from. They shoulder the burden on a daily basis and give of their time and energy for the benefit of all, regardless of race or religion. It is important that you hear, firsthand, how the volunteers deal with this situation and how much they do and contribute to the wider society – all out of a sense of mission, faith and caring for others.”

■ CONGREGANTS OF the Hazvi Yisrael synagogue in Talbiyeh know Dr. Kenneth Collins as the president of the congregation, but many don’t know much more about him. Before making aliya, he was president of the Glasgow Jewish Representative Council and chair of the Scottish Council of Jewish Communities. A general medical practitioner in Glasgow for more than 30 years, he is currently senior research fellow at the Centre for the History of Medicine and visiting professor at the Department of Medical History at the Hebrew University, focusing mainly on medieval Jewish physicians, such as Moses Maimonides and Isaac Israeli. He is also associate editor of Korot: Israel Journal for the History of Medicine and is an academic consultant for the renewed Medical History Museum at the Hebrew University Medical Library. He has been the editor of Vesalius: Journal of the International Society for the History of Medicine since 2008 and has been researching aspects of the history of refugee practitioners from Nazi Germany in Scotland for 30 years.

In recent years, Collins joined a group of international scholars researching medicine and the Holocaust with meetings in Berlin (October 2014) and Acre (May 2015). In 1987, Collins was a founding chairman of the Scottish Jewish Archives Centre and continues to hold that role.

The author of several books, his two latest offerings are Isaac Israeli: the Philosopher Physician (with Samuel Kottek and Helena Paavilainen), published by the Berman Medical Library, Hebrew University; and In the Pathways of Maimonides; Studies in Maimonides, Medical Ethics and Jewish Law, A Tribute to Dr. Fred Rosner (with Edward Reichman and Avraham Steinberg), Maimonides Research Institute, Haifa and New York.

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