Many people at Mayanei Hayeshua stopped and stared at the unexpected sight of Arab physician Dr Abed Zehalka, who has worked in the hopital’s ICU for several years, delivering a tallit-clad Torah scroll to the Cronavirus Department while wearing full protective garb. Ironically, the Coronavirus Department is the only location in Israel where patients can pray in a minyan (quorum), since all the worshippers have already been infected with the virus.
Dr Zehalka responded to the emotional reaction of patients. “Carrying the Torah scroll into the ward was a moving experience for me. The fact that I am part of the hospital, of the patients, of the hospital’s traditions, strengthens the bond even more. I too am a man of faith. I see a strong connection between faith and successful treatment. I come across patients who simply give up. But I also come across patients who were in a very serious condition, who coped exceptionally well with the disease, and who recuperated.”
Senior nurse Michal Ben-Dov agrees that the ability to pray with Torah scroll gives added meaning and reassurance to patients, and assists their healing. “Many of our patients are accustomed to praying every day. In this very complex reality, the Torah scroll gives them extra strength.”