What Israel Means to Me: Rachel Schonberger

What Israel Means to Me: Rachel Schonberger

Here’s what the Hadassah Medical Organization chair has to say as we celebrate Israel’s 70th birthday.

Rachel Schonberger peers into the Ramon Crater.
Rachel Schonberger peers into the Ramon Crater.

The birth and success of Israel are 20th century miracles. Hadassah has been integral to Israel since 1912, when Henrietta Szold’s “Practical Zionism” brought modern health care to Palestine.

I went to Israel in 1954 with my parents. Syrian gunners shot Kfar Blum farmers from the Golan Heights. The Tel Aviv-to-Jerusalem one-lane road wasn’t safe for night travel. Jerusalem was divided by barbed wire. The airport “terminal” was a Quonset hut. The food supply — marginal. Hadassah Mount Scopus, the Mideast’s premier hospital, was surrounded by Jordan and unreachable. Israel had the only electron microscope between Rome and Australia. Despite its struggling Third World economy, Israel welcomed every refugee Jewish community returning to Zion.

Rachel Schonberger

Tel Aviv was founded in 1909 by and for Jews on sand dunes along the Mediterranean seashore. In 2018, residents of diverse ethnicities go about daily activities in boisterous streets. There are music, theater, open-air markets, skyscrapers, falafel stands, kosher McDonald’s, universities, Hadassah clinics, international business moguls, street sweepers, swimmers, lovers, mourners, passionate political discussions. It’s a vibrant city in a country that is succeeding against all odds. The Tel Aviv-Jerusalem Highway is busy 24 hours a day. A high-speed train is faster.

Today, Hadassah’s two hospitals embrace Jerusalem. Our Youth Aliyah villages provide a future for children at risk. The country is peppered with Hadassah clinics, parks, playgrounds, reservoirs, schools. I’m part of that.

I am a Zionist. Israel is not my “just in case,” my “what if.” It’s the homeland of the Jews.

See all the reflections on Israel’s meaning on this special anniversary.

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