Since Shevet Achim first began in 1994, we have had the privilege of working alongside some amazing health professionals from Wolfson Medical Center. Many of these physicians and nurses have been serving faithfully for years, devoting countless hours to provide hope for children with broken hearts from around the world. But it’s not just time they’ve sacrificed. It’s not uncommon for them to give up holidays, more lucrative positions, sleep, or important family events to focus on the life of one child. As a nurse and long-term member of Shevet, I have observed first-hand the price they pay again and again. While mutual trust and respect has grown over time between our community and Wolfson’s cardiology team, so has friendship. And in light of this friendship, the Shevet community wanted to extend our gratitude beyond the hospital corridors. Words of affirmation are significant, but tangible demonstration is equally so. Thus, our idea to host a special event in Jerusalem was born. It remained on the drawing board for several months and was even cancelled once before finally being realized last Monday evening.
As the day approached, I began sensing just how excited the medial staff were about coming to visit us. The nurses’ station buzzed with conversation about who was going, what we would do, and how much they had always wanted to see our home. In nineteen years of partnership, this would be an inaugural occasion. One nurse even asked if I could order good weather, so that nothing would be spoiled. Meanwhile, back at the Shevet house, the rough drafts for the evening went to the publisher.
Eleven nurses and one doctor arrived promptly on our doorstep on March 11th, just before nightfall. After a round of greetings, our entourage set out on a short stroll to the Old City. The sun was setting, the air was balmy, and everyone was in good spirits. Jerusalem’s weathered stone walls radiated warmth as we passed by. Since dinner time was approaching, our first stop was a cozy kitchen in the Jewish Quarter that served cheesy wood-fire pizzas. Before heading out, I shared with the nurses how their heartfelt labor does not go unnoticed and that their genuine love for the children is truly apparent. The senior nurse, Nava, responded with mutual words of love and said they are never afraid to send patients back to Jerusalem after their surgeries because they knew they will be well taken care of. Heading next towards the Western Wall, we continued to learn about each other’s lives. Several of the staff also mentioned how special this city is to them and how they don’t get to come so often.
The big surprise of the evening came as we approached the Tower of David. Both the medical team and Shevet staff were treated to a stunning theatrical display at the Jerusalem Light Show. Dramatic musical scores reverberated against the ancient fortress while breathtaking light images traced the history of the city from primordial times to present-day. It was the first time most of us had ever seen it, and we were all duly impressed. At the end, our group gathered for a commemorative photo overlooking the city lights.
When we returned to the Shevet house, flickering candlelight filled the old courtyard and staircase with warm ambiance. Shevet staff members, Greg and Bev, welcomed us inside with hot coffee, tea, and pastries.
I have always felt our home is meant to be a place of peace to all who cross its threshold. Just beyond our walls, metropolitan life courses by, but inside one finds refuge and grace that can only come from God. I believe our guests experienced the heart of Shevet Achim as they sat and shared life with us. Our evening concluded with a brief tour and history of the building and greeting the Kurdish families whom they serve.
Looking back, I feel that something beautiful and intangible happened that night. Though the members of our communities differ in some ways, we have a shared passion that transcends culture, language, and location. That passion is to bring healing and restoration one heart at a time. May God continue to bind us together as we serve alongside our friends at Wolfson in the coming days and years.