Two anniversaries of the medical and social assistance
The Medical Center of the Federation of the Jewish Communities in Romania
“And do not desert me, Lord…”
The symposium dedicated to the double anniversary of our medical and social assistance – 20 years since the foundation of the Asylum-Hospital “Amalia and dr. Moses Rosen” and 30 years since the creation of the FJCR Medical Center – was nothing less than a lesson of humanism, stressing a profound truth: the need for affection of the elderly and the sick. The event has become – through the scientific value of the communiquÃ©s and the emotional value of the testimonies – a crossroads between what can be expressed and what cannot be, between the particular (the Jewish solidarity) and the general (the condition of the fourth age). The event took place in the asylum”s conference room and was attended by leaders of the FJCR, the “Joint”, the “Claims Conference” organization and the “Charity” Foundation. The Government, the Presidency and prestigious healthcare establishments in Bucharest also had their representatives. The prologue of the symposium – visitation of the ergo therapy room, the labs, the radiology room, the kitchen, the gym, the pharmacy, the food supply rooms, the washing room – turned theoretical landmarks into facts of life. The anniversaries were an occasion to pay tribute to all those, past and present, who dedicated their time, energy and expertise to the medical and social assistance provided by the Federation; a grateful acknowledgement was made of the importance of the “Joint” and of the “Claims Conference” in preserving Jewish life in Romania. The history of the “Joint”"s presence in Romania was the background for showing the activities of the Social and Medical Assistance Department and its latest achievements, with the important support of the “Claims Conference” (engineer Nilu Aronovici).
The tremendous efforts of the founders of the asylum, as well as the problems encountered by their followers have in common the same objective: taking care of the people in the asylum, understanding the difficult moments that they are in (dr. Ilie Pais). The evocation of those who dedicated their lives to the FJCR Medical Center for the past 30 years found its counterpoint in today”s work style, which could not be so modern and efficient without the donations from the “Joint” and from other Jewish organizations in the US and in Europe, without the “Project Vision” Program in ophthalmology, without the extension of the programs towards other fields, as proposed by the “Jewish Health International” organization (dr. Alexandru Elias). An X-ray of the medical life in the asylum (with an emphasis on its function as a hospital) determined an analysis of the pathologies and an age-based statistical account of the assisted (dr. Gh. Dinescu).
The true confessions about regaining inner equilibrium by living in the asylum (L. Fonea) and about regaining sight (Marghit Tamler) added warmth and color to the symposium. The interventions of some foreign guests proved the degree of interest shown by the Jewish international organizations in the life of our community. Speeches were held about: the transformations of the notion “Joint” for a survival of the Holocaust – George Rich, president of the “Joint” Commission for Eastern Europe; the perseverance in the work for the good of the Jewish people – Moshe Yehoda, associate executive vice-president of the “Claims Conference” in Austria; the appreciations regarding the excellent partnership “Joint”-FJCR and the involvement of the “Claims Conference” in the social and medical assistance – dr. Zvi Feine, manager of the “Joint” Program for Romania. The discussions (among the speakers were Martin Weissbuch and engineer Pincu Kaiserman) also shed some light on the positive effects of the cooperation between the “Joint” and the Federation (the day center in the “Balus” facility, the ritual restaurant in Iasi).
Academy member NICOLAE CAJAL:
“We could not live or survive without the “Joint”
“Of course, the assistance activity is not reduced to the two institutions that we celebrate today, or to the Bucharest area. It takes place among many communities across the country: it is worth mentioning the elderly asylums in Timisoara and Arad (and formerly in Dorohoi), the 20 medical facilities (formerly 24), the rest houses in Borsec and Cristian etc. We cannot forget about the special activity performed until a few years ago at the “Martin Balus” Asylum, under the supervision of dr. Charles Crupariu and counsel Iulian Sorin, and at the Calarasi and Bradului asylums; all of these remind us of the activity of our much regretted spiritual leader, Chief Rabbi Moses Rosen (z.1), and of the outstanding part he played in establishing, organizing and seeing to the medical and social assistance, a complicated activity that sometimes had to be performed under very adverse circumstances. Again, we cannot but remember the tremendous contribution of the “Joint” – especially after the 1967 comeback – and I would like to underline, like I said it many times, that we could not have lived or survived without the its support. [...]
I would like – and I also take it as a duty – to evoke once again the major, exceptional contribution of dr. Gonick in Geneva in founding this asylum. It is with emotion that I remember the four meetings (out of many more) that were organized by dr. Moses Rosen and dr. Gonick, to which I had had the honor of being invited in order to discuss the details regarding the foundation of this asylum. It was then that I had the opportunity to recommend that dr. Marcel Saragea be appointed manager – a proposition that was accepted by the much regretted Chief Rabbi who, after a talk with Mr. Saragea, appointed him as the first manager of the asylum, an asylum that was subsequently to receive (by a decision of the “Joint”) the Rosens” name. [...]
I also wish to thank all those who strive for the success of these medical and social facilities, as well as the Managerial Committee, that responsibly supervises the entire activity of the FJCR.”
Dr. ALEXANDRU ELIAS:
“Towards a modern and more efficient service”
“In 1970 a small medical facility was founded at the Great Synagogue; it was led by dr. Arthur Mayersohn, who recently passed away, at the age of 94. [...] It was there that a dentist”s facility also functioned, providing minimal assistance. But the years passed and the facility relocated on the Bradului Street and then in its current building, where it still exists today. Over the years, its activity was extended, its logistics became more complex, and the services offered to the Jewish population grew richer and richer. [...] We provide monthly medical assistance in a dispensary system, through some 1.000 medical examinations in the facility and some 300 visits at home. Is it much? Is it little? It is not up to me to decide. What I can say with certainty is that our help arrives promptly and efficiently at all those who ask for it, that our physicians keep a thorough record of the patients they see at least once a month, that, even though we are not an “emergency” facility, there are many emergency calls that we respond to, and that those unable to move are regularly attended at home and, if need be, brought by our ambulance to be examined at the facility. [...] In 1995, an American foundation based in Atlanta, led by dr. Steven Kutner, initiated an impressive action of ophthalmologic assistance for the elderly within our facility. It is the “Project Vision” Program, in which 1.907 persons were examined over the past years, and 373 (assisted or non-assisted, Jews or non-Jews) were operated for glaucoma, cataract etc. [...]
Today, after 30 years of medical activity of the Center, when we look back upon the road we traveled on, we cannot but envision the future of our work with trust and hope. Further extending our medical assistance, using the help of the new American foundation J.H.L., introducing computers in all activities, improving our building – these, together with many others, are our objectives.”
Dr. ZVI FEINE:
“As long as you need us, we will be here to help you”
“I appreciate to their full extent the efforts and the achievements of Academy member Nicolae Cajal and the entire managerial committee in trying to better the Jewish life in Romania. I thank the management of the Federation for having invited Mrs. Mara Coen and Mrs. Rosalba Galata, representatives of the “Joint”, to this anniversary. I am grateful to Moshe Yehoda for his participation. I thank all those who work in the medical sector of the Federation. Engineer Nilu Aronovici reminded us that the “Joint” came to Romania in 1919. I think this says something about the way in which the American Jews supported those from other parts of the world. As long as you need us, Mr. George Rich and I will be here to help you. Every time I step into the asylum I look at this plate that marks the cooperation between the “Joint” and the Federation in its foundation. [...] I am sure that you will continue to attain the noble goal of soothing the suffering of those in need.”
President of the “Joint” Commission for Eastern Europe:
“I myself was resurrected from the ashes of the Holocaust
thanks to the “Joint”"
“The asylum is one of the best, if not simply the best in the country, erected with the support of the “Joint”. Every time I talk to elderly people, survivors of the Holocaust, I get more emotionally involved than usual because I myself was resurrected from the ashes of the Holocaust thanks to the “Joint”. When I was freed from the labor camp, I thought that manna was falling from Heaven: it was the warm soup that the Americans had brought. That reminded us that we were human beings, that we had the right to live. We survived thanks to the food packages. We didn”t know who was sending them. It all seemed like a miracle to us. [...] And here I am, a representative of the “Joint”, that I consider to be a gem in the service of those who suffer, helping them to live in dignity. [...] The “Joint” and your Federation are doing everything within their powers to better the life of Jews in Romania.”
executive vice-president of the “Claims Conference” Organization (Austria):
“Living to do good”
“Today”s anniversary gives me the opportunity to send a salute on behalf of Rabbi Israel Miller, president of the “Claims Conference”. The management of the “Claims Conference” succeeded in doing something that no one thought possible: changing the traumatized existence of the Jews who went through the Holocaust. [...] For many years I have been working with dr. Zvi Feine, whose generous heart beats for all those who suffer. George Rich had the luck to make a better life for himself, but did not turn his back on the less fortunate. We, the Jews, have a secret weapon: dedicating ourselves by working for the good of the Jewish people and of all the peoples.”
THE ASYLUM-HOSPITAL “AMALIA
and dr. MOSES ROSEN”
- 20 years since its foundation
THE NEED FOR AFFECTION
An interlude in the asylum”s courtyard. Stranded water drops from a fountain nearby reach the place where we talk. I wonder if what I see glittering on Svetlana Valkanova”s cheeks is only the reflection of the light on those drops. Before taking part to the symposium, Mrs. Valkanova talked to one of the old ladies in the asylum, survivor of a labor camp in Transnystria.
“A very old woman, with such a clear memory!”, she confesses. She lost her entire family in the labor camp. Only her sister and herself made it alive. As long as her sister was lived, she still had some support. But afterwards? How does it feel to be alone in the world, powerless under the burden of the years? “What has been and is done in your community for these people who have reached their twilight is extraordinary. I could see this by participating to the symposium. I was impressed by the tidiness of the place and by the affectionate care that each pensioner receives.”
Counsel IULIAN SORIN
Should one take the time to think about the conditions that Romania knew more than 30 years ago, if one should try to analyze the situation of the Jewish population in this country back then, one would realize the importance of our cooperation with the “Joint”, which cannot be forgotten, nor stressed enough. [...] Let us pay homage to the “Joint” for the program that they are developing in Romania, let us thank the management for their efforts to secure the success of this program; and let us thank dr. Zvi Feine for always being on our side.”Engineer
“Respecting one”s own dignity”
“It is time to mention that the “Joint” became involved in Romania at the beginning of the 20th century. Between 1919 and 1938, they allocated the important amount of 55 million dollars for different aids in our country. Between 1949 and 1967, the “Joint”"s presence was no longer tolerated. In 1967, the “Joint” came back to Romania with a well defined program. It comprised: enhancing and extending the Jewish values; respecting the dignity of the elderly; helping the needy Jewish population, victims of the Holocaust. The activity of the Medical and Social Assistance Department is based on the subsidies from the “Joint”, which, in its turn, receives donations in cash, clothing, medical equipment, medicines etc., as well as on the material support from the FEDROM. [...] Since 1995 the allocation program of the “Claims Conference” has provided important amounts of money to the Jewish organizations and communities worldwide which offer basic social services to the needy elderly, as well as to institutions involved in activities of research, education and documentation on the issues of the Holocaust. [...] The “Claims Conference” organization has a major influence on the quality of the life led by the elderly Jews survivors of the Holocaust in Romania. [...] More than 20 years after it was built, the “Amalia and Chief Rabbi dr. Moses Rosen” Asylum is now being renovated. If one should ask what made all these things possible, one might answer with this well-known Jewish saying: “All Jews are responsible for one another.”
Dr. ILIE PAIS:
“First of all, an ASYLUM; the health establishment comes second”
On the morning of February 15, 1979, the persons who started working to organize the functioning of the asylum went past its gate. They were dr. Marcel Saragea, general manager, Jan Bogdan, marketing manager and the secretary Emilia Lazar. This is how the internal organizing activity started; it was a very difficult work. In the 20 years that have passed since then there were many people who strived for the good functioning of the asylum: physicians, nurses, clerks, janitors, technicians. [...] Today we provide a highly qualified medical assistance for all sorts of cases. [...] I don”t want to come in front of you and tell you how great and wonderful our results are or how impeccable the behavior of every one of us is. However, there is one thing we can say for sure: the asylum is an ever-growing social and medical facility and we, the people who work here, are determined to carry on with this activity, bearing in mind the joy and the health of those who are entrusted to our care.”
Dr. GHEORGHE DINESCU:
“They”re not just patients; they are our brothers and our parents.”
The asylum-hospital that we celebrate today had to [...] improve the life of its assisted, especially in a time when the hospitalizing and the assistance of the elderly in the public healthcare facilities became more and more difficult, tedious and inaccessible. An important part of the asylum”s activity is represented by the medical interventions (often very expensive) and by the assistance of the patients, which requires a relatively numerous and well-trained staff. When the elderly arrive at the asylum, they are in a high degree of pain; sometimes they are in a pre-final stage, or pre-coma. They are either brought in from home, or transferred from the public hospitals which can no longer keep them in custody. In all these cases, we made huge efforts (that were successful more often than not) in order to prolong their life.”
MARGHIT TAMLER: “I was afraid that the miracle would only last three days”
“I received permanent medical care in our clinic and I was operated of cataract. The operation was a full success. It is very hard for me to explain how I felt when I got back home, with the dressing removed. I suddenly had a revelation: on lighting the stove, I noticed that the fire had a brightness and a color that I had forgotten; on turning on the TV, I realized that the pictures and the words on the screen had a perfect clarity. For a few days I lived in fear that this miracle – for it was a miracle to me – would only last three days, like many other miracles! But that didn”t happen. [...] On behalf of all the assisted and together with them, I thank God that these wonderful institutions exist, giving us support and hope in our old age.”
LIDIA FONEA: “I felt that I was needed again”
“The first moment in my psychic rehabilitation was when I was proposed to become the asylum”s librarian. [...] The fact that I could continue my relationship with books (I used to teach Romanian literature) was my greatest joy. Later, I donated most of my books to the library, and that was also quite significant. [...] I personally take books to those who cannot leave their rooms to come the library themselves. [...] Another step forward was when I founded a literary-musical circle. That way, I felt I could be useful again. [...] Slowly but surely, I started smiling again, even laughing; I sometimes tell jokes to the others and I am glad if I can make them smile and if a caress of mine can light a spark of joy in the eyes of an old person.”
“WHAT IS BEING DONE FOR THESE PEOPLE IS EXTRAORDINARY”
Interview with SVETLANA VALKANOVA,
manager of the European branch of the “Claims Conference” Organization
“What brought about your visit to Romania?”
“The fact that I wanted to help the Holocaust survivors, those that still exist, to receive the rights they are entitled to. Not all of them have sufficient evidence. I am here to do some interviews and clarify some indemnity requests that are still being litigated.h there is still terview and clarist survivors, those that still exist, to receive the rights they are entitled to. ____”
“How well have you managed to achieve that?”
“It is often the case that those elements capable of clarifying the situation of these people come up in their detailed accounts of the sufferings they endured. Together with a colleague, I have spoken to survivors from Oradea, Cluj, Bucharest. Out of 80 subjects, only 15% failed to provide satisfactory answers that meet the criteria set by the German government for the granting of compensations. All the others meet the criteria.”
“Which are these criteria?”
“Six months” detention in a labor camp. 18 months in the ghetto, 18 months spent in hiding, for those that were children at the time, 18 months of living separated from the family, under a false identity. The management of “Claims Conference” took part in negotiations for the creation of the German Initiative Foundation “Remembering, responsibility and future,” which should provide compensations to other categories of survivors of labor camps and ghettos where these survivors performed forced labor. They will be offered to those who have not received other compensations from other programs. The draft for this law is to be discussed in the German Parliament this year in July. The applicants should contact only the representatives of our office in Romania. I emphasize this point because there are counsels who, as far as I know, misguide those who are insufficiently informed, offering them their services and trying to extort money from them.”
“Is there a statistics of the requests for indemnities in Romania?”
“Out of the 984 applications, approximately 700 have been approved, and approximately half of the almost 300 applications which haven”t yet been solved are heading towards a positive solution.”
“How did you find the people involved in the community life that you met here?”
“Very warm-hearted, absorbed by their work, having an intellectual bearing that is worthy of all esteem.n intellectual ky life that are counsels who, as far as I know, misguide those who are insufficiently informed, offerin”
I experience the invigorating feeling that there is sincerity in every word, the intention of offering support to our community, an open-minded understanding of suffering and the will to soothe it.
The medical Center of the Federation of the Jewish Communities in Romania (FJCR) in Bucharest provides complementary medical assistance for approximately 1.200 persons. It has a polyclinic structure, with 12 medical specializations, 2 dentist”s facilities and a well-supplied pharmaceutical point. In 1994, the dentist”s facility was equipped with an X-ray machine. In 1995, a high-performance microscope was installed in the ophthalmology facility, followed by a laser in 1996. Also in 1996 an ambulance was donated to the Center. In 1998 the cardiology facility was equipped with a portable electrical cardiograph that allows performing EKGs at home. Two other EKG devices are stationed at the Center. Through the support of “JOINT” important medicine donations were received from Jewish organizations in the U.S., the Netherlands, from the Chemicals Ltd. Company (P. Strauss). With the help of the “Optinova” Company (S. Samueli) glasses are manufactured for the people in the asylum. A staff of 150 employees works in the “Amalia and dr. Moses Rosen” asylum. The medical assistance is provided by three interns, a psychiatrist, a urologist surgeon, a dentist, a radiologist, an EKG specialist, three laboratory physicians. A dermatologist, an orthopedist, and an ophthalmologist from the FJCR Medical Center in Bucharest make periodical visits at the asylum. There exists a pharmacy at the asylum, a medical gymnasium, a physiotherapy facility with a qualified staff. During its 20 years of existence 2.400 elderly persons have lived here. On average, 184 persons are registered in the asylum every year, their vast majority being over 70 years old (80%).
“JEWISH HEALTHCARE INTERNATIONAL”
and THE ISSUE OF MEDICAL ASSISTANCE
During February 18-20 of this year a delegation of the “Jewish Healthcare International” (JHI) visited our community. After the success that the Program “Project Vision” had, its task was to initiate new programs for modernizing treatments in dentistry, geriatrics, pharmaceutics, neurology, cardiology, geriatric psychiatry.
SHIMON SCHARF, manager of the “Barzilai, Ashkelon, Israel” Medical Center: “We will recruit new personnel: specialists and medical nurses.”
ARTHUR KOLL, Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs official : “I was born in Romania and I am in my homeland again. I want to to everything in my power for these elderly people, considering that any of them might have been my own parents.”
GHEORGHE DINESCU, physician (“Amalia and dr. Moses Rosen” Asylum): “We need heart stimulators for implant for those who need new devices; we need prostheses for those with fractures of the thigh bone.”
HUGO MAYER (FJCR clinic): “We would like to receive specialized magazines in order to stay up-to-date with the latest medical advancements.”
MARCELA STAN, (physician for the Jewish Community in Timisoara): “We lack medical staff needed for those that live in our asylum for the elderly.”
FRED KATZ, Physician (Atlanta): “We intend to create a tripartite association among specialists from the U.S., Israel, and Romania; to train medical personnel with university training; to observe the 11th Commandment. It without saying that the donations of medicine and medical equipment are important, but it is equally significant that our young specialists work with you. Help us think together the most adequate solutions.”
Let us add years to life and life to the years
What brings together the hosts (leading figures of the FJCR) and the guests- some of them having become “regulars of the place” by now, others being in the midst of our community for the first time, familiarizing themselves with its medical and social problems – is the fact that they do not allow themselves to remain passive to suffering. Perhaps we owe this attitude to a common spiritual space (the Jewish soul, about which I speak with Betsi Gard, psychiatrist in Atlanta). Perhaps it springs from what Arthur Koll, an official of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, simply calls humaneness: the wish to act for the well-being of those who need help the most: the elderly who are alone, poor, ailing.
The visit of a delegation of the “Jewish Healthcare International” Foundation, led by dr. Zvi Feine, the manager of the JOINT Program in Romania, and dr. Stephen Kutner, coordinator of the “Project Vision” Program in Romania, marks – as dr. Zvi Feine pointed out – the beginning of new medical Programs in the fields of dentistry, geriatrics, pharmaceutics, neurology, cardiology, geriatric psychiatry. “The key for this mission,” in which Israeli, American and Romanian Jews take part alike, as dr. Stephen Kutner concludes, “is to strengthen ties between Israel and the Diaspora.” This represents yet another contribution of FJCR, in collaboration with JOINT and JHI to the betterment of the life conditions of the assisted in our community.
The guests, eager to “take the pulse” of Jewish life in Romania, realize that it is rhythmic and strong. They see that our community, although diminishedas a result of the massive emigration (97%) – as can be gathered from the statistics offered by Academy member Nicolae Cajal -, a community mostly made up of elderly people, knows how to validate its youth, because without youth there is no future. Their songs on Oneg Sabat fill them with emotion, consolidate their feeling that “we are one family,” that it is “extraordinary to help one another.” These are thoughts spoken by Zion Gabay from Atlanta, consultant for the projects of JHI in Israel and the Diaspora. These ambassadors of Good understand that we have undergone ant that we are going through difficult times from an economic point of view, with inevitable repercussions on the health of the underprivileged, for whom the matter of medical examinations, of treatment, of the medicines, more and more expensive, is vital.
Those questions that do not leave room for an equivocal answer
The guests arrive at the central headquarters of the Social and Medical Assistance Department. They are all impressed by what they saw and listened to in the modern kitchen of the Day Center at the “Martin Balus” Complex. “We work for about 1.500 assisted in this department, which has a very diversified field of activities. Because of the difficult economic situation, we have more and more requests for assistance”, informs them engineer Nilu Aronovici, president of the Department, giving them an insight on the main problems that he encounters daily. “Together with our trusted friend and partner, dr. Zvi Feine, we set an annual budget. At the beginning of every year, we know exactly how much we have to spend. But the inflation (last year it reached 47%) puts us into extremely difficult situations. The moment a criterion was settled, the cost of life doubled. We have two categories of assisted people. Some of them have very small pensions and receive support in cash. Others are provided a free lunch at the ritual restaurants, free home transportation of the lunch for those who cannot move, 8 food packages annually (or 12, where there are no ritual restaurants), one package with clothes every year, free medical assistance”. The ambassadors of Good detect and propose solutions for the future. And now, the good questions – questions that do not leave room for an equivocal answer: what is the average life span of the assisted? To what amounts the pension of an assisted? What is the amount that they need in order to survive? What is the cost of a food package or of a package with clothes? How is the way of life of the assisted controlled?
“The cost of an operation = eight average monthly pensions”. “And how many operations do you need?” The same fight for survival, many times dramatic and always heroic, is also fought on the medical field. A significant victory is the “Project Vision” Program for Romania, which can be thus statistically summarized, according to dr. Alexandru Elias, manager of the Clinic of the FJCR in Bucharest, the country coordinator for the national medical network of the Federation: “In almost five years of activity of the Program, more than 300 elderly, Jews and non-Jews, regained sight. The cost of such an operation is the equivalent of eight average monthly pensions.”
The victory can also be “caught” in an emotional outburst, like dr, Zvi Feine does, on his way to the clinic: “Look me in the eyes!”, tells me a person formerly operated. “These are eyes that can see!”. “The clinic is now 30 years old”, dr. Alexandru Elias feels the need for a retrospective. At the beginning we only had one physician working here. Now we have 19, covering 10 specializations. Today, about 1.000 people taken into the clinic’s evidence are examined here, and 300 – at home. Nothing we accomplished would have been possible without the “Joint” and the “Project Vision”. The questions of the guests show both pragmatic thinking and emotional involvement. They want to know how the ophthalmologic interventions are organized, whether there are any statistics on the illnesses they suffer from, how the patients are treated at home… There are many problems that the ones taking care of the assisted have to cope with: buying medicines and medical equipment under the circumstances of an acute lack of money (hence the importance of the donations), the treatment costs for the most frequent illnesses: cardiovascular, dental, urological, orthopedic… The guests look at the way the EKG device (a recent donation) works. Dr. Stephen Kutner remembers how the laser was bought; it was the second in the whole country. These are bits of life that prove the efforts of the FJCR, the “Joint” and the “Project Vision” to continually better the quality of the medical services of the FJCR.
From the microscope donated by STEPHEN KUTNER to the technical means reqired by a modern medical assistance
An intermezzo – the bus trip towards the “Amalia and dr. Moses Rosen” Asylum – becomes an opportunity to make the guests familiar with Bucharest and with its past and present Judaic perimeter (we pass through former Jewish quarters and before the Jewish State Theater). Alex Sivan, general manager of the FJCR, acts as a voluntary guide. Before the work meeting, dr. Ilie Pais, manager of the asylum, presents a short biography of this healthcare establishment which now celebrates 20 years of existence. Here too, the theoretical landmarks gain life. The guests visit the ergo therapy room, the labs (a commemorative plate remembers CÃ©cile Mizrachi – z.1 -, who donated the investigation equipment and the guests stop in front of the microscope donated by dr. Stephen Kutner), the dentist”s facility, the radiology room. Fred Katz, a radiologist, vice-president of the Jewish Healthcare International Foundation (JHI) thoroughly inquires on the degree of wear of the equipment and assures his Romanian colleague, dr. Mircea Duse, that he will do everything within his powers in order to obtain an electronic megatoscope. Neither the food supply room, nor the roms occupied by the pensioners of the asylum are neglected. Everywhere they go, the guests are accompanied by Academy member Nicolae Cajal, counsel Iulian Sorin, Alex Sivan, engineer Nilu Aronovici, dr. Alexandru Elias, psychologist Sanda Lepoiev, secretary of the “Project Vision” Program for Romania. The leaders of the FJCR, of the “Joint”, and of the “Project Vision” Program, and the representatives of the JHI and of the Romanian medical team delivered speeches that expressed not only the joy of doing good, but also the will to make it happen. Here are some excerpts from these speeches:
The “ambassadors” of full honesty
After having thus defined the mission of the “Joint”, dr. Zvi Feine emphasized the need for funds of this benevolent organization. “The purpose of this visit is a better understanding of the problems of the medical assistance for the Jews in Romania, so that we may try to solve them together. The extension of the medical programs, following the success of the “Project Vision” Program, is one of the ways to support the attempts of the FJCR in this direction.”
“We are at the beginning of a new cooperation with dr. Stephen Kutner”, said Academy member Nicolae Cajal in the prologue of the sensible portrait that he made to our community. What word other than gratitude could express the way we feel about the miracle through which old people without any hope regained the elementary right to enjoy the colors of the world? How could we thank enough dr. Zvi Feine for his exceptional activity for the good of our community?!”
The ethics of the Jewish mutual help
“I don”t think there is a single suffering Jew, in any corner of the country, no matter how distant, whom our social and medical assistance did not reach”, insisted dr. Alexandru Elias, “through the three asylums for the elderly in Bucharest, Timisoara, Arad, the 18 medical facilities, the visits at home, the extraordinary “Project Vision” Program. But in order to live up to our goals of bettering the quality of the medical services, we need up-to-date knowledge and the support of the JHI specialists. It is important to continue what we started, in cooperation with the “Joint” and the “Project Vision”. This question always comes up: why did we, the Jews, organize such an impressive system of mutual help? It is primarily an urge that derives from our ethics and especially from our hardships. There is a solidarity of those who have towards those who don”t. And to us, this solidarity represents the 11th Commandment.”
Dr. ZVI FEINE and the problems of the community
“We have a concrete goal”, said dr. Stephen Kutner. “Our mission is to increase the efficiency of a multifunctional medical system. We will take the information we have received, we will go to Israel or to the US and we will define the way in which we will work with you. We are not going to come and work in your place. We will work together to improve the quality of the life of the assisted in Romania. I have to confess that I wouldn”t have been here without dr. Zvi Feine. He is familiar with the problems of this community and is able to create this cooperation between the FJCR, the “Joint” and the JHI Foundation.”
Who are the guests from abroad whom we haven”t yet mentioned in this material and what do they think about us? We followed their reactions during the very interesting Kabalat Sabbath preach delivered by Rabbi Eliezer Glanz; during the Sabat songs performed by cantor Tibi KÃ¶vari, the choir of the Coral temple and the youth at “Sira Vezmira”; we felt their emotion while they were talking to the elderly and were visiting the museums of their past. Here are some of the impressions I wrote down on the spot:
ORIT JACOBSOHN, chief nurse, manager of the “Clalit” Healthcare Services in Israel: “The way in which you manage to surpass all difficulties deserves all our respect”
GABY BAUER, JHI project coordinator, Israel: “I have never seen such a strong and fascinating community, given the difficulties you encounter, in Israel or the US.”
Dr. NINA COHEN, North Carolina (US): “You are a very well organized and active community, that takes great care of its elderly and observes the Judaic education of the youth.”
I feel that their statements, as well as the conclusions drawn during the reunion at the end of the visit (attended by Academy member Nicolae Cajal, counsel Iulian Sorin, Alex Sivan, engineer Nilu Aronovici, dr. Alexandru Elias, dr. Zvi Feine, dr. Stephen Kutner and the entire delegation of the JHI) were not just for the sake of protocol and that the promise that we will meet again was for real.