Rabbi Nadia Siritsky
The High Holy Days is a time for reflection. I have found myself contemplating the many blessings and miracles that have been possible thanks to Jewish Hospital.
Jewish was formed over 100 years ago as Jewish Free Hospital to provide care to Jewish refugees and immigrants and all others who were in need of medical care. This mission evolved, helping it become a regional, national and world leader in advancing innovative health care, in large part thanks to its partnership with the University of Louisville, School of Medicine.
This founding mission has continued to evolve. We continued to pioneer historic feats of treatment, putting Louisville on the medical map. From the World’s first reported repair of a digital artery in 1962 to a number of worldwide firsts in hand and arm transplantation, to the world’s first successful heart transplant following the use of a Thoratec ventricular assist device in 1985, to the world’s first minimally invasive saphenous vein harvest (heart) in 1996 to the world’s first two-level percutaneous transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion in 2003 to the world’s First Sequent™ Meniscal Repair in 2011 to being the first in the region to perform directional deep brain stimulation for treatment of tremors and Parkinson’s disease in 2017… there are more firsts than can fit into this whole newspaper.
In 2005, Jewish Hospital HealthCare Services partnered with Catholic Health Initiatives (CHI) to form Jewish Hospital and St. Mary’s HealthCare, which in 2012, led to the creation of KentuckyOne Health, the largest not-for-profit health system in the Commonwealth of Kentucky. This enabled Jewish to preserve its mission to caring for the underserved while continuing to advance medical research and pioneering care that have made a difference to this community and beyond.
The sale of Jewish to CHI also led to the creation of the Jewish Heritage Fund for Excellence (JHFE). JHFE is now the second largest nonprofit foundation in Kentucky, dedicated to improving community health, funding medical research and providing support to the local Jewish community.
The Jewish Community of Louisville has been profoundly blessed by the leadership and support of JHFE. It provides valuable funding to synagogues, Jewish programs and events, ensuring Jewish continuity by engaging community leaders in important conversations about Jewish life in the 21st century.
JHFE has also ensured the continued legacy of Jewish’s mission to improve the health and well-being of greater Louisville, supporting medical research and the sacred work of nonprofit organizations dedicated to improving health and well-being here.
While JHFE advances the legacy of Jewish’s founders, the hospital has, itself, proudly supports the work of local organizations, providing leadership and boosting city-wide public health and violence prevention initiatives.
As we prepare for the sale of Jewish and KentuckyOne Health to the UofL, thanks to the generous financial contributions of a number of entities, including Jewish Hospital & St. Mary’s Foundation, JHFE and CHI, we are grateful that the university shares our commitment to the underserved and our passion to advance medical research and improve the lives of all.
When we conclude reading a book of Torah, we recite these Hebrew words: Hazak, hazak v’nithazek, which means, “be strong, be strong and we will be strengthened.” The origins of this tradition are traced back to the actual physical strength to lift the Torah, but it has come to reflect a much larger spiritual expression related to endings and new beginnings. During Simchat Torah, when we complete the book of Deuteronomy and immediately return to Genesis, we affirm our faith that every ending is also a new beginning.
This Hebrew phrase is an affirmation of strength and wisdom gained, and an expression of hope for the ways this strength will propel us to further blessings and strength in the chapters to come.
So it is for us at Jewish Hospital. We were strong, we are strengthened by the sacred healing mission that continues to inspire us as we conclude this chapter of our story, and we pray for continued strength as we begin our new chapter as a part of University of Louisville Health.
Rabbi Nadia Siritsky is vice president of mission at KentuckyOne Health.