Grapevine: Remembering the wounded

Some of the wounded – both military and civilian – will be fortunate and enjoy full recovery from their injuries; Others lost an arm, leg or eye.

President Reuven Rivlin. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
President Reuven Rivlin.
DURING OPERATION Protective Edge, hospitals treating wounded soldiers were crowded with well-wishers bringing gifts. If the ceasefire continues, all the goodwill towards the young men and women who were willing to risk their lives for the sake of national security will gradually dissipate.
Some of the wounded – both military and civilian – will be fortunate and enjoy full recovery from their injuries. Others lost an arm, leg or eye. No matter how well they adjust, they will never be able to fully put the conflict behind them.
This issue was raised last Saturday by Rabbi Avigdor Burstein of Hazvi Yisrael Congregation, who in his Shabbat sermon alluded to the pursuit of justice that was at the forefront of that week’s parsha.
While the nation mourns the 70-plus soldiers and civilians who paid the highest sacrifice of all, said Burstein, there is a general tendency to forget the injured – who in most cases, spend the rest of their lives with some form of disability.
As an example he cited a sister of his wife, Dina. During the War of Independence, shortly before Dina Burstein was born, the shelling from Jordan hit her family’s house in an Orthodox neighborhood. Her nine-year-old brother was killed, and one of her sisters lost a hand. Every year since then, said the rabbi, there has been a full memorial graveside service with the national flag for the brother his wife never knew, but her sister stays home to mark the anniversary of the loss of her hand – something she has had to live with for more than six decades, and for which she has never been and cannot really be compensated.
To forget or ignore the wounded is an injustice, said Burstein, and urged the congregation to be more sensitive.
IT WAS an emotional moment all around towards the end of last week, when soldier Chen Schwartz, 19, was able to go home from the hospital after 25 days. Schwartz was not wounded in Gaza – quite the opposite. He had been standing at a bus stop minding his own business when a drive-by gunman on a motorbike shot him at close range. Schwartz, who was critically injured, was rushed to nearby Hadassah University Medical Center on Jerusalem’s Mount Scopus.
Police believe the assailant was a Palestinian.
In one of those ironies of fate, Schwartz almost lost his life to Arab bullets but was saved by highly skilled Arab surgeon Prof. Ahmed Eid, who like every ethical physician makes no distinction between religion, race, nationality or social standing when treating a patient.
Schwartz’s mother, Miri, has thanked Eid many times over for the excellent treatment he and the nursing staff gave to her son, and there were few dry eyes in the house when the young soldier himself thanked Eid, as his mother wheeled him out into the sunlight and towards the car that would take him home.
Hadassah Mount Scopus is arguably one of Israel’s best examples of Jewish-Arab coexistence and mutual respect, and indeed living proof that coexistence in a warm and friendly atmosphere is possible.
WHILE THE main focus of going back to school was on Monday, President Reuven Rivlin started his tour of schools on Sunday – going to the Zichron Menachem School, which is attended by child cancer patients who for various reasons cannot go to regular schools. Rivlin was accompanied by his wife, Nechama, and Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat.
Rivlin had the highest praise for Miri and Haim Ehrental, who established Zichron Menachem in memory of their son Menachem, who died of cancer while still a teenager. The president declared that everyone should take an example from them on how to flourish even in times of crisis, and to build out of the crisis a lever of compassion and love. Rivlin subsequently visited schoolchildren in Dimona and Kibbutz Sa’ad.
IN PREVIOUS years, Sephardi girls whose parents sought to enroll them in Ashkenazi places of learning were often denied, or if accepted for enrollment, were ostracized within the school or the seminary.
Not so this year, according to an article in Behadrei Haharedim, which quotes Shas leader Arye Deri as saying he made a promise – and he kept it. The promise was that no Sephardi girls in Jerusalem would be left at home because they had been refused a place in school.