The menorah that burned brightly during the month of December, in the center of the circle of Abraham Flexner Way, was a gift to Jewish Hospital by Janet Lynch, in honor of her grandparents’ legacy left to this hospital, and to the community.
The menorah is a symbol of light, hope and faith at a time of year when the world becomes increasingly dark. It serves as a call to justice and freedom in an era when we are reminded of just how precious those values are.
My prayer is that, regardless of their beliefs or traditions, our patients and families will see the promise of the lights on the menorah as a promise that miracles are still possible in our own day, and that each of us will be reminded of our own ability to illuminate their darkness with our compassion and acts of kindness.
On Tuesday, December 12, the first night of Chanukah, we had the honor of kindling the menorah with the Fox family, who joined together, as they do every year, at Jewish Hospital. They remembered their beloved Aunt Hilda (“Hindy”) Fox, preserving a decades-old tradition here.
Hilda Fox was a nurse leader at Jewish Hospital for many years, before passing away in 1956, the fourth night of Chanukah that year, at age 42. By lighting the menorah, the Foxes keep alive the memory of her dedication and commitment, indeed the dedication of all nurses at Jewish Hospital.
Jewish Hospital has always served as a beacon of hope and justice to the community. Created at a time when Jewish doctors were not allowed to practice at other hospitals, and when Jewish patients could not receive culturally and religiously appropriate medical care, it continues to be a haven for people of all faiths, traditions and ethnicities, ensuring that all people have access to world-class health care.
The experience of being marginalized, discriminated against and needing to flee oppression in other lands led Jewish Louisville to create a hospital where all people could feel respected.
Established in 1903, our hospital was created to provide care for poor, refugee and immigrant Jews, and to provide a hospital where Jewish physicians could practice, in an era where neither were possible in surrounding hospitals.
Sara Greenstein, served as the first female president of Jewish Hospital’s board of trustees (1962-1965), and led efforts to desegregate patient rooms and medical staff. She was instrumental in making Jewish Hospital the first in Louisville to be racially integrated.
Free medical care simply isn’t possible in today’s climate, but Jewish Hospital continues to find ways to care for the underserved, ensuring that we do not turn away anyone who needs care. We continue to treat the poorest and sickest patients in Kentucky.
This year, we celebrate a new miracle: Some time ago, Congregation Adath Jeshurun joined with employees of Jewish Hospital to create the Pikuach Nefesh: Saving Lives Fund with Saint Mary’s Foundation, raising over $10,000. On December 16, Martin Nhial welcomed home to Louisville his beloved wife and three children, thanks to this generous philanthropic initiative.
Martin is a devoted employee of Jewish Hospital, working as a surgical tech, beloved by his co-workers.
He is also one of the approximately 75 “Lost Boys” who now call Louisville home. Having survived the destruction and slaughter of his village in South Sudan in 1986, he fled, hid and journeyed by foot throughout the desert, until finally, in 2000, he became one of the 3,600 boys who entered the United States as part of a United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and State Department resettlement program.
Martin’s wife, whom he met in refugee camp, and his three daughters will finally be reunited with him, in Louisville, after so many years apart.
This is a Chanukah miracle, and I give thanks for the blessing and opportunity to have been able to work with Rabbi Robert Slosberg and Cantor David Lipp, and our amazing Jewish Hospital family, as well as the generous and compassionate members of Adath Jeshurun to finally make this dream a reality.
May the many miracles of Chanukah inspire us to look to the future with hope, faith and confidence that together, regardless of whatever changes the future may hold for us, we will continue to make more miracles happen. If we believe we are too small to make a difference, let us remember that like the few drops of oil that miraculously burned brightly for eight nights, each of us can make a difference in the lives of others.
(Rabbi Nadia Siritsky is vice president of mission at KentuckyOne Health.)