‘Do not bear false witness against your neighbor’

There is a functioning Pediatric Hemato-Oncology Department in Jerusalem.

THE HADASSAH-UNIVERSITY Medical Center campus is seen in Ein Kerem. (photo credit: Courtesy)
THE HADASSAH-UNIVERSITY Medical Center campus is seen in Ein Kerem.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
I had to rub my eyes when I read Yaakov Katz’s article in The Jerusalem Post last Friday.
While experiencing the personal sorrow and naturally empathizing with a father whose daughter suffers from cancer, I also felt tremendous frustration with the nonchalance expressed in the sentences:
“We live in Jerusalem, and Hadassah should have been the hospital where Miki was treated. The problem is that despite the months that have passed, Jerusalem, Israel’s capital and most-populated city, apparently still does not have a pediatric oncology ward on par with other hospitals around the country. How do I know? I don’t. I asked dozens of people, including doctors and employees at Hadassah, almost all of whom warned me to stay away. This is absurd. Jerusalem needs to have at least one functioning pediatric oncology ward.”
Regarding this week’s Torah portion, Yitro, the Lubavitcher Rebbe noted that Yitro added an extra portion to the Torah, which was complete even without it, but Jethro’s contribution was so important that it became part of the Torah. This marvelous weekly Torah portion, beyond Jethro’s recruitment in favor of Israel, instills values and norms in the Jewish nation, and in an incredible event the Ten Commandments were given to the Chosen People. These commandments that make our nation unique with Divine guidance.
The Ninth Commandment is: “Do not bear false witness against your neighbor”! It is expected that a person should not lie when testifying, should avoid gossip and should restrain himself from slander. It is expected that a person should not treat a fellow person in a dishonest manner.
Which of Yaakov Katz’s friends violated this Commandment by creating the “fake news” that in Jerusalem our capital there is no functioning Pediatric Hemato-Oncology Department? How is it possible that dozens of people, or the majority of them as defined by Yaakov Katz, hid the existence of the department and warned him to stay away from Hadassah? How is it possible that a department with 10 first-class national and international Pediatric Hemato-Oncology specialists, some of whom came from Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer – an excellent department where Katz’s daughter is being treated – is totally ignored by the Jerusalem public, and, under the terrible sin of “libel,” parents of children with cancer in Jerusalem are warned to stay away from it? How is it possible to ignore a department that was reestablished after a group of physicians chose to abandon their patients, and to begin an unprecedented media campaign against Hadassah and against their replacements, who treat and save the lives of children suffering from cancer, and who perform more than 50 complicated pediatric bone marrow transplants annually, on par with Europe’s largest pediatric transplantation centers? The Pediatric Hemato-Oncology Service at Hadassah Medical Organization is the rightful address for treating Jerusalem residents, and for anyone else who God forbid requires its services.
Whoever decides to take children out of Hadassah and drag them to hospitals in central Israel is making a mistake. It seems that even today parents of children, such as Yaakov Katz, are apparently under the influence of a false campaign of persons with an agenda who are attempting to exert pressure to open another Pediatric Hemato-Oncology Department at Shaare Zedek Medical Center, which is contrary to Health Ministry policy and the High Court of Justice decision.
Dr. Gal Goldstein – department head, Prof. Yossi Laver – service head, Prof. Polina Stepensky – head, Pediatric Bone Marrow Transplantation Unit, Dr. Irina Zaidman, Dr. Udi Even Or, Dr. Dan Har-Lev, Dr. Tzippy Kornfeld, Dr. Shirley Saieg, Dr. Dror Raviv, Dr. Rakefet Sidlik-Muskatel, Dr. Hodaya Cohen, and additional excellent physicians and nurses are the backbone of pediatric oncology treatment at Hadassah.
These physicians of the Department of Hemato- Oncology at Hadassah in Jerusalem strongly protest their being deliberately excluded from the Jerusalem public awareness. They have asked me to point out on their behalf that, although they are not “in the camera’s eye” and they do not have a posse of recruited press, with infinite dedication, professionalism and a love for children, they provide exceptional service and treatment to anyone who turns to them, without discrimination, while by all standards the results of treatment provided by the department are extraordinary.
Enough of the biased exclusion of the physicians of the Department of Hemato-Oncology at the New Hadassah! I pray for the health of Yaakov Katz’s daughter Miki, and I am absolutely certain that she is receiving and will continue to receive optimal treatment in the department at Sheba Medical Center – a department that I nurtured for years, just as today I nurture the department at Hadassah.
I sincerely hope that this week’s Torah portion and the Ninth Commandment within it, together with the fact that there is a Department of Pediatric Hemato-Oncology at Hadassah, will remain guiding principles.
The author is the director-general of the Hadassah Medical Organization.