British rabbi’s lesson for uncertain times? Faith

Jewish Hospital
Rabbi Nadia Siritsky

Rabbi Nadia Siritsky

Rabbi Jonathan Sacks of Great Britain teaches that the Torah has a profound lesson for how we should face uncertainty.
Noting the contrast between two biblical characters, Noah and Abraham, Sacks teaches that Noah is said to have “walked with G-d” (Genesis 6:9), but Abraham walked on “ahead of G-d” (Genesis 17:1). He explains that to be a Jew is to face the future’s uncertainty with faith.
“Faith is the courage to take a risk,” Sacks teaches, “to begin a journey to a distant destination knowing that there will be hazards along the way, but knowing that G-d is with us, giving us strength. Faith is not certainty, but the courage to live with uncertainty.”
That’s a good lesson for those of us working in healthcare. It is precisely this faith that we can offer our patients and their families as they journey through illness and uncertain times.
Of course, the reality of healthcare today has its own uncertainties. Changing national policies regarding insurance and reimbursement have only complicated matters.
The Filson Historical Society’s recent exhibit on the history of Jewish Hospital highlights the tremendous change in healthcare over the last 75 years. The industry has needed to adapt to preserve its charitable founding mission.
It is illuminating to see how successfully we have navigated these changes, transforming every obstacle into an opportunity.
Jewish Hospital has responded to change by creating new opportunities for healing, learning and blessing. Just like Abraham walked forward to a place he did not know, so that he could be a blessing, we always walk forward with faith into an uncertain future.
It is this focus that led Jews to come to America, to create a Jewish Hospital, to partner with the University of Louisville in the founding of the facility’s present downtown location and to pioneer new technology and surgical procedures.
That same focus provided the foundation for KentuckyOne Health and the founding of Jewish Heritage Fund for Excellence, which was formed as part of the sale of Jewish Hospital to Catholic Health Initiatives, and which continues to provide financial support and leadership to Jewish Louisville and the medical field.
For KentuckyOne Health, caring for the underserved provided a common bond between Jewish Hospital, Sts. Mary & Elizabeth Hospital and Our Lady of Peace, joining forces with the former Saint Joseph Health System in Lexington to maximize our community impact as the state’s largest healthcare provider.
In the last five years, we have improved Kentucky’s health outcomes. Once ranked as least healthy state in the country, we are now 45th. Over the next five years, I pray these health metrics will continue to improve.
This commitment to wellness, healing and hope for all, including the underserved, has been our guiding mission. In just the last year, we provided over $121 million of community benefit, including unreimbursed patient care, education and research.
We are thankful for the opportunity to serve our community, living out our faith in tangible ways that ensure that the most vulnerable have access to excellent healthcare.
True, our Louisville facilities are for sale, but we seek a new owner who will continue to invest in us, supporting our care-giving and educational missions. Living in uncertain times isn’t easy, but it is precisely moments like these when our faith and trust are so crucial. Ironically, remaining focused upon faith is the exact same skill our patients require. So, we are proud of how we have deepened our ability to care for our patients during moments of transition and, in the process, strengthened our own spiritual resilience.
We continue to improve, not only our healthcare, but the environment in which it is delivered. Recently, several of our Louisville facilities have been recognized by the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce and the Kentucky Society for Human Resource Management as “Best Places to Work in Kentucky.” Some were honored for the first time; others are repeat recipients.
We move forward with faith and hope, continuing to fulfill our founding mission, thankful for the lessons of Sacks and others that we are learning along the way. May this ability to focus upon what is unchanging be a skill we share with all those whom we encounter; it’s a gift our world needs now more than ever.

(Rabbi Nadia Siritsky is vice president of mission at KentuckyOne Health.)

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