Rambam Health Care Campus in Haifa received a customized mural from the Atlanta Jewish community earlier this month, created by more than 200 participants during Paintfest at the Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta, an event sponsored by the Atlanta Israel Coalition (AIC) in conjunction with the Foundation for Hospital Art.
This past December, in a large ballroom filled with long tables, colorful paints, and an assortment of brushes, participants painted beautiful canvases that would be hand-delivered by a contingent of AIC volunteers to a 2,000-bed fortified underground emergency hospital at Rambam Health Care Campus. During the event, other canvases were also painted that would be distributed to children’s hospitals throughout the United States. In other rooms on the opposite side of the building, children and adults were busy at craft stations creating cards, painted rocks with inspirational messages, and jewelry that would be delivered during the same visit to Israel by AIC.
On Jan. 14, at a ceremony held at Rambam, five AIC volunteers, led by Executive Director Cheryl Dorchinsky, and hospital staff members hung the mural in the hospital space, which was previously a hospital parking lot. The hospital space became fully operational in October in case of an attack by Hezbollah and other terrorist groups on Israel’s northern borders. Rambam is the only level-one trauma center in northern Israel.
According to Rambam staff members, the art helps brighten and beautify what might otherwise be a drab space. In a Facebook post, the hospital thanked AIC for their support and help in creating greater awareness of the hospital and its needs.
Following the ceremony, the group of six – Dorchinsky, Tovah Shraga, Monica Ellis, Sara Boucchechter, Rachel Nerenbaum, and Leah Davis – traveled throughout Israel, delivering an assortment of donated clothing and supplies, including sleeping bags, thermals, socks, jackets, hats, hand warmers, face masks, snacks, and over-the-counter medications. Packed in several suitcases that had also been donated by members of the Atlanta Jewish community, the donations were appreciated by IDF soldiers and Israeli citizens alike.
“We are so grateful for the generosity shown by our supporters throughout Atlanta. We were incredibly moved by the reactions of those who received the items. The cards especially touched the hearts of the soldiers, and one group near the Western Wall even asked for an extra card for a friend who was off duty that day,” said Dorchinsky.
According to Dorchinsky, being in Israel – speaking with, showing support, and crying with many of the people they encountered – illustrated the love and bond between Jews worldwide. “We wanted to affirm that they are not alone in this battle. We hoped to express the unity and connection we all have with them,” she said.
The group set up several events at hotels throughout Israel, enabling displaced Israelis to participate in craft- and jewelry-making. A big surprise for the contingent was running into Emily Hand, one of the young hostages who had been released by Hamas, at one of the hotels. The group recognized her immediately and gave her a Beanie baby, chocolate, coloring books, and scented markers.
The outreach was extended to several grassroots organizations throughout Israel. The AIC group packed items for IDF soldiers at Thank Israeli Soldiers; prepared vegan meals for troops at Tel Aviv’s J17 restaurant and, in one case, arranged for meals to be provided for a fallen soldier’s shiva; visited and shared snacks and supplies with lone soldiers at Michael Levin Base in Jerusalem; and delivered new clothing to evacuees through Eran’s Angels in Tel Aviv. Through their work, AIC established strong connections with many grassroots organizations in Israel, laying the groundwork for providing future support from abroad.
On Feb. 2, another mural painted by participants during Paintfest will be presented to the office of the Consulate General of Israel in Atlanta. Consul General of Israel to the Southeastern United States, Anat Sultan-Dadon, attended the December event, where she first learned about the mural that had been designed specifically for her office. During the painting event, Sultan-Dadon thanked AIC and all who attended for the “beautiful gesture” and remarked, “AIC has big dreams and always figures out a way to make things happen.”
Atlanta Israel Coalition fosters a non-partisan, multi-faith collective effort to amplify pro-Israel voices. Through programming that educates, enlightens, and inspires, the group works to combat misinformation that fuels anti-Zionism and antisemitism. The organization is currently planning another volunteer mission in Israel.
- Debbie Diamond
- Rambam Health Care Campus
- Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta
- Atlanta Israel Coalition
- Foundation for Hospital Art
- Cheryl Dorchinsky
- Tovah Shraga
- Monica Ellis
- Sara Boucchechter
- Rachel Nerenbaum
- Emily Hand
- Michael Levin Base
- Anat Sultan-Dadon
- Leah Davis