In a matter of days, we will celebrate Passover, one of the most loved and popular festivals on the Jewish calendar. Passover is also one of its most profound. Its messages of struggle and freedom resonate with all people of faith.

This year we will celebrate Passover very differently than ever before. Having family and friends together is no longer an option. There are certainly creative ways around it, like FaceTime, Skype and Zoom. But in this time of the ‘new normal’ we are being asked to adjust, and that can be hard with a festival that has been part an unchanging tradition for more than three thousand years.

Let’s hope that the words ‘Next Year in Jerusalem’, which are recited at the end of the Seder are prophetic. Let’s also pray that each one of us and our extended family and friends, keeps safe and emerges stronger and more resilient when the curse of COVID-19 has been removed.

Hadassah, Israel’s oldest and most revered hospital, is playing a vital role in protecting the health and wellbeing of every Israeli during this unprecedented pandemic.

It has always been ‘the people’s hospital’, the one place that has consistently reached out to the community in good times and bad. It should come as no surprise that it has been chosen by the Government of Israel to take a leading role in the fight to defeat this insidious enemy.

Not only has it become the Central Virology Laboratory of the State of Israel - a tremendous honour, but also a heavy responsibility at this critical time in the nation’s history – but it has also been designated by the Ministry as one of only six hospitals in Israel to take patients who have been infected by COVID-19. Once again Hadassah shows it is ‘more than a hospital’, leading the community response to an international health crisis.

A financially difficult but appropriate decision was made by the Hadassah leadership to establish a secure area for the hospital’s infectious diseases experts to operate in. The fifth floor of the Round Building at Ein Kerem has been set up with state-of-the-art equipment, staffed by volunteers, many of whom are doctoral students in the sciences, to work three shifts a day in order to double and even triple the number of tests being performed.

To help reach this goal, a new robot was introduced under the direction of the Hebrew University to collect biological materials and then process and neutralize them through automatic systems.

I’m sure you share my pride in what Hadassah is doing and what it has always done – stepping up in a time of need for all the 1,200,000 residents of Jerusalem and the surrounding region. This is made possible thanks to your support.

Ron Finkel AM
President, Hadassah Australia