Thursday, December 31, 2009

Religious Tolerance in Alyn, A Mixed Bag

Hat tip my husband

 Almost twenty years ago, when my elder son was hospitalized in Alyn the Pediatric Orthopedic and Rehabilitation Hospital in Jerusalem, I told the nurse who was yelling at me that she should really be contacting the Public Relations Department.

Our story didn't have the political background like this one in the New York Times, but it still would have made great pr for the place.  Why was the nurse so angry?  It was past the kids' bedtime and there was a party atmosphere in my son's room.  He had two roommates, one a Moslem and one a Druse.  The Moslem kid's aunt a spinster nurse was with him most of the time, and the Druse kid was cared for by his athlete uncle who represented Israel in international events.  My son had a variety of family members and neighbors with him all the time.  The night in question, we were all having a fine time talking and joking.  And when the nurse complained that it was past bedtime, I asked what difference it made when "...nobody was going anyplace the next day.  The pr people should see what fun we're having."

It wasn't all religious tolerant heaven there, unfortunately.  I don't know what the policy is today.  Shabbat wasn't Shabbat except for the prayers in the synagogue, which were attended by a few neighborhood people.  There were no special Shabbat meals.  Nothing was even served Friday night.  We were there mid-summer.  The ordinary dinner was served before the time of candle-lighting.  And talking about candle-lighting, even worse.  I had to fight with the nurses for the right to light candles.  They didn't allow candles. 

14 comments:

Hadassa said...

Shalom!
There's nothing like equating the victim and the aggressor, is there? The NYT is at it again. Not that Ha'Aretz is any better. Both newspapers were founded by the same type of German Jews.

Batya said...

Hadassa, it was pr from the same hospital which ignored Shabbat in its programming.

Hadassa said...

Shalom!
OK. I've missed the main point. I can't make the leap between leftist peacenik Arab-Jewish relations and having to fight for Shabbat candles.

Batya said...

It's a very intense experience when you're with a kid in the hospital, and we got along, no politics.
Then when I was there for Shabbat I was horrified to discover, no Shabbat and I had to threaten them with going to the press when they tried to forbid candles.

Anonymous said...

Is this still true today?

Was this an actual anti-Shabbat policy?

Who enacted this policy? What is their background and outlook to do so?

We have had wonderful care for one of our babies at Alyn a very long time ago, admittedly, without ever being their for Shabbat.

I can understand if the place is secular in atmosphere but not permitting elementary Shabbat observance for a patient is a different story altogether.

Please try to clarify what the current situation is.

Batya said...

I admit that I don't know recent policy. There have been lots of changes since that summer. My son was in a special department for temporary patients.
The synagogue was small, and his bed, he was in traction, took up the entire women's section. So I had to stand outside.

Keli Ata said...

I'm a bit confused. Granted, I've not visited anyone in the hospital on Shabbat but friends tell me nurses either ask that they use the small electronic Shabbat candles or allow real candles to be lit briefly--because of concern about the oxygen in room and fire.


I'm not sure of the halacha on those electronic candles but it would seem better to not light Shabbat candles than use them, since the greater requirement would be to rest, and say prayers.

All hospitals should have kosher food, and plastic utensils.

Batya said...

keli, no ICU, just peculiar. I guess most religious mothers didn't stay Shabbat or slept in the neighborhood. Shabbat wasn't on the program. I had a baby in London and was there Shabbat, no problem with candles. When my youngest was a tiny infant, he was hospitalized 6 weeks and we lit Chanukah candles and Shabbat candles. That was in Shaare Tzedek.
The policy 19 1/2 years ago in Alyn was a shocker. I hope it has changed.

Keli Ata said...

TY for clarifying.

I'm sorry you had to be subjected to this while your son was ill:(

From the description of the Druze families and Muslim families and all you'd think the staff would have been tolerant and understanding of Shabbat.

Batya said...

That was the irony.

goyisherebbe said...

I briefly made an inconclusive websearch to check out the current state of Shabbat at Alyn. I think it is important for the sake of truth to know what is really the case before getting people's blood boiling via the blog. Midvar sheker tirchak -- stay far from falsehood. The very fact that there is an atmosphere, as in most of the Israeli medical establishment, where Jewish (religious, hareidi and secular) and Arab (Muslim and Christian) patients, family and staff can get along postively because of an existential commitment to the sanctity of human life, is something we should respect. If there are problems, we should proactively try to solve them. Otherwise we are spitting in the well from we or our friends or family may someday (lo alaynu, G-d forbid) have to drink.

Batya said...

goyish, so what's the verdict? Is it better today? Is there Shabbat programming for all the wards?

Anonymous said...

GR used the word "inconclusive" for a reason.

Batya said...

I caught that. Unless someone blogged about it, it may not be on the web. also there are the full-time wards and the temp. full-time has programming. When we were there the temp didn't. The kids just got their treatment at best.