A Stay at the Hospital

In a routine scope an ominous polyp was found in my wife's colon. Despite heroic attempts to have it removed without surgery – in the end she had to have part of her colon removed. So now my wife has a semi-colon, which you must admit is classier than a regular colon. We were told the laparoscopic surgery would require three incisions, three hours and a week's stay in the hospital. In fact: only one incision was needed and we stayed only five days after a surgery that took less than two hours. I wonder if we're going to get a partial refund, after all – we got less than advertised and paid for! Still – we're not complaining, but rather are actually very grateful.
The outstanding phenomena of being in the Jerusalem hospital where we stayed was the microcosmic experience of Israel we had there. The surgeon was born in the USSR, his assisting resident was born in Israel, some doctors and interns were Jews, some Arabs, and we could hear English, Russian, Amharic, Arabic, Persian and yes, even Hebrew.
The hospital is very Jewish-Israeli. Friday evening at the onset of Shabbat there are special purple-uniformed "writers", non-Jews who are available to do all the non-essential but necessary things that would otherwise entail desecrating the Sabbath. There's a tray to light candles and someone comes around to "make Kiddush", the ceremony sanctifying the Sabbath.
This year we went from Shabbat to the Fast of the Ninth of Av, the day commemorating the destruction of the first temple, the second temple 1945 years ago, and the city-fortress of Bar-Kochva's last stronghold, Betar, 1880 years ago. On Shabbat my wife pointed out that I was eating while she wasn't, but the next day she would commence eating, as required by health concerns and allowed by Jewish law, while I would be fasting. It being a religious hospital – the cafeteria and coffee-shop corners were all closed. For those not fasting – it was the first time I saw lines in front of vending machines.
It was a microcosm of Israel, the Jewish state, because it was very Jewish yet also very harmoniously multi-cultural. People work together, eat together, get sick and get well together. There is no tension in the air because the two sides of "the conflict" are there together. That animosity and tension may exist in the media and in warped minds (which are sometimes the same), but in real life – people are people.
In the morning I joined many others in the synagogue, sitting on the floor to recite lamentations. But then – between checking how my wife was doing and if we were being released – someone else came. There was a stir of activity and having asked someone what was going on I was told there would be a circumcision taking place. So, as tradition holds, Elijah the Prophet came to visit us in the hospital, which I thought very fitting for the time and place. Who better to visit, while mourning the temple, than Elijah, to bring good tidings?
Sure enough one of those personal good tidings was that my wife was being released. As we were getting organized, since you accumulate a lot of "stuff" over a six day stay in the hospital, a new patient was entering our room: an Arab teenager with his mother. They started to take the middle bed, but I told them that we were leaving and it would better to take our bed with the window and more room. I'm not sure how much Hebrew they understood – but eventually I saw the mother was waiting. As we finally got the OK to go the Arab mother –wanting to wish us well but having a limited vocabulary in Hebrew – smiled broadly and said: Mazal Tov!
Maybe she should get together with Elijah the Prophet? Maybe we all should!
Our thanks to our many friends who prayed for my wife's health and wished her well. We hope never to see the inside of a hospital except to greet new grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Peace and happiness to all!