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Solidarity and trust among staff help dispel hatred of victims

Julie Morris of Temple Beth Shalom is hopeful from her 22 visits to Israel that peace is possible.

Julie Morris

Julie Morris

She has seen how Arab and Jewish doctors, nurses, social workers, staff and patients at two Hadassah-subsidized hospitals in Jerusalem provide and experience healing side-by-side.

When there is a suicide bombing, survivors are brought there with similar injuries from poisons in their lungs, shrapnel wounds and injuries leading to paralysis or loss of limbs.

Whether Arab or Jewish, they reach into a reservoir of inner resources and resilience, sharing a common dream of going on with their lives and returning to a new sense of normal, said Julie Morris, a member of Temple Beth Shalom who has been involved for more than 30 years with Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization of America.

As a member of the national board for the hospital, she has visited Israel every year or every other year.

Julie said that when Arab doctors and nurses have difficulty some days going through security at the crossing points, Israeli doctors and nurses will embrace and comfort them. 

Hadassah Clown

Hadassah Clown

“Specialists work side by side in trust.  Patients are healed side by side,” she said, telling of those coming in filled with hatred for the other side.

“One Jewish victim survived when two friends were killed.  He came in saying he hated Arabs.  The act had just destroyed his life,” Julie said.  A nurse who helped him heal and regain his life was Arab.  Learning that he said, ‘It’s opened my heart.’  His heart had been closed because of the violence, suffering and wrong-doing, but an Arab nurse helping bring him back to health opened his heart.”

Once there were TVs in the waiting room, but they were removed because families of victims would watch reports and boo or cheer, creating tension.

When there is a suicide bombing in a public place, the people killed and injured are a microcosm of the population, the mix of Arabs and Jews who associate peacefully every day going to work, to school, to stores, to restaurants, to hotels, on busses and doing the activities of their everyday lives, as people do in Spokane, she said.

“Hadassah” means “myrtle,” Julie explained.  The organization was named after both the mother of the founder and the myrtle branch carried in the beak of a dove as a symbol of peace.

“People of both sides are hopeful and cautious,” she said about prospects for peace she has observed on many visits, particularly on her November 2004 visit when Yassir Arafat died.  She remembers looking over the border at Eilat into Jordan and seeing a flag flying at half mast.  She also remembers the joy of Israelis hoping that the next leader would be more open to peace.

“Israel has had so many ups and downs.  President Clinton nearly achieved peace,” she said.

“Below the level of politics, no one wants war,” she said.  More than one million Arabs live in Israel and many are citizens.  People want peace.”

Most of life there is like life in Spokane, with isolated acts of violence, she said, in contrast to media coverage, which focuses on the violence every day.

Julie, who taught 12th-grade English literature for four years at Shoreline High, moved to Spokane from Seattle with her attorney-husband, Jeff, about 34 years ago.  A mother and grandmother, she became president of the local Hadassah chapter 30 years ago. 

She became regional president 20 years ago and since then has been on the national board.  In 2004, it raised $90 million to supplement support of the hospitals, which are subsidized by the government’s national labor union.
Hadassah sponsors many trips,  drawing leaders from all ages, so they can discover their roots.

After she went on two Renaissance Mission tours through Hadassah, Julie led one last fall with 20 people from the Pacific Northwest and 10 from other areas.

On the nine-day trips she has taken to Israel, first annually and now every other year with Hadassah, she had time to visit people and sights after the four days of board meetings and visiting the medical center.

“Unless you read about Israel, you misunderstand about how safe and wonderful it is in Israel.  We just hear of conflicts and random acts of violence that can happen and cannot be controlled anywhere,” she said.


When there is a suicide bombing in a public place, the people killed and injured are a microcosm of the population, the mix of Arabs and Jews who associate peacefully every day going to work, to school, to stores, to restaurants, to hotels, on busses and doing the activities of their everyday lives, as people do in Spokane, she said.

“Hadassah” means “myrtle,” Julie explained.  The organization was named after both the mother of the founder and the myrtle branch carried in the beak of a dove as a symbol of peace.

“People of both sides are hopeful and cautious,” she said about prospects for peace she has observed on many visits, particularly on her November 2004 visit when Yassir Arafat died.  She remembers looking over the border at Eilat into Jordan and seeing a flag flying at half mast.  She also remembers the joy of Israelis hoping that the next leader would be more open to peace.

“Israel has had so many ups and downs.  President Clinton nearly achieved peace,” she said.

“Below the level of politics, no one wants war,” she said.  More than one million Arabs live in Israel and many are citizens.  People want peace.”

Most of life there is like life in Spokane, with isolated acts of violence, she said, in contrast to media coverage, which focuses on the violence every day.

Julie, who taught 12th-grade English literature for four years at Shoreline High, moved to Spokane from Seattle with her attorney-husband, Jeff, about 34 years ago.  A mother and grandmother, she became president of the local Hadassah chapter 30 years ago. 

She became regional president 20 years ago and since then has been on the national board.  In 2004, it raised $90 million to supplement support of the hospitals, which are subsidized by the government’s national labor union.
Hadassah sponsors many trips,  drawing leaders from all ages, so they can discover their roots.

After she went on two Renaissance Mission tours through Hadassah, Julie led one last fall with 20 people from the Pacific Northwest and 10 from other areas.

On the nine-day trips she has taken to Israel, first annually and now every other year with Hadassah, she had time to visit people and sights after the four days of board meetings and visiting the medical center.

“Unless you read about Israel, you misunderstand about how safe and wonderful it is in Israel.  We just hear of conflicts and random acts of violence that can happen and cannot be controlled anywhere,” she said.

Tours include Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Memorial Museum, where in addition  to museum exhibits, people listen to a Holocaust survivor.

She has heard Rena Quint, a Polish survivor who now lives in Israel, tell her firsthand story of living through suffering but emerging with a positive attitude.  Her mother was killed before Rena went to the concentration camp as a young girl. 

Five women who one by one became her “mother” in the camp were killed.  When she was liberated, the family of her last mother took her to New York.  That woman died there.

“She could have been devastated, but she decided to make her life positive by finding love, marrying, having children and grandchildren, and now telling her story at the museum,” Julie said.  “That way Holocaust perpetrators did not win.”

Survivors have also honored gentiles who helped save Jewish people by planting trees around the museum and placing plaques on them with the names of those who helped.

Julie has been to tourist, desert, industrial and historic areas. She has dined in homes of Israelis and met with Arabs.

She is impressed that stone walls of buildings in Jerusalem—preserved for historical purposes—still stand after centuries. She said a friend from Portland lives near Jerusalem in a home that is hundreds of years old.  The thick walls keep it cool in the summer and warm in the winter, she said.

She joined a Christian tour on one visit, “not something I would automatically do as a Jewish woman.”  She followed the stations of the cross, saw where Jesus was buried and rose, saw sacred sites churches are fighting over.

“I was touched.  I saw another perspective:  how sacred and special the land is to Christians.  Although Jesus is not my savior, I recognize he was a great prophet who has had much impact on the world.  I saw where he lived and learned about what he did. 

“I sense the awe at how those parts of the country’s history, biblical stories and background have been preserved,” she said.

Julie has also visited the Dome of the Rock and heard Muslims talk about Islam.

“Israel is a spiritual place,” Julie said.  “I feel spiritual there, like I’m coming home, welcomed and connected through time to the holiness there.”

Julie also finds a sense of the spiritual in the many people she sees and meets, the different faces and dress, the sense of diversity of the world—a microcosm of the hopes and dreams for peace.

“I have visited a suicide bombing site and areas that were rebuilt with memorials.  I heard a soldier at the crossing to Gaza tell and re-enact how he was wounded.  I have seen the ‘fence,’ which is only a thin wire in some areas,” she said.

“The Israeli army prevents more acts of terrorism than suicide bombers succeed in doing.  Now young girls and boys are trained to blow themselves up near Jews—near hotels, pizza parlors, nightclubs, schools and busses where innocent women and children are killed,” she said.

She was horrified by billboard tributes to suicide bombers as martyrs and by families’ being rewarded for sacrificing children.

“We need to retrain children to have it end.  It’s more complex than who has what bit of territory,” said Julie.

Speakers holding opposing views speak to Hadassah visitors and so they understand the varied perspectives.  She said that it’s important to avoid being political but to understand politics.

Israelis are suffering economically from the drop in tourism.  She estimates that more than 100 members of Temple Beth Shalom—from about 300 families that belong—have been to Israel.  More went  before suicide bombings made people afraid.

“People do not need to be afraid,” she said. “Israel values tourism and prevents many suicide bombings.  There is heavy surveillance in hotels and restaurants, but at times we were the only ones in our hotel.”

Previously, 150 to 200 would go on Hadassah trips.  Now there are 30 to 60 on the average trip.

Julie travels to many major U.S. cities to talk about her experiences and promote the hospitals.

“Americans want to know what is going on there and learn about the people,” she said.

She often tells of those who most impress and inspire her with their resilience: the patients.  Many come back to volunteer at the hospitals to help other survivors.  Survivors continue to ride public transportation and go out in the community. 

“Their courage is inspirational,” she said.

For information, contact Julie@morrisandmorris.com.

Copyright
© February 2005 - The Fig Tree