By Shoshana Simones, Community Engagement Manager 

 

Last month I embarked on a 10-day professional development trip to Israel. The trip was part of my participation in a two-year fellowship through the Hadassah Women’s Organization to focus on building healthcare connections for women and underserved individuals, which aligns perfectly with our mission here at MOM.  

Hadassah’s mission is to bring healing — in every sense of the word — where it’s needed most, in the U.S., Israel and around the world. Every day. As volunteers. As philanthropists. As changemakers. 

During this trip, I had the opportunity to tour Hadassah’s two hospitals, Hadassah Mt. Scopus and Hadassah Ein Kerem, both in Jerusalem. I also visited the organization’s youth programs for children living in poverty and those deemed “at risk.” 

 

Glimpses of MOM across the globe  

When I visited the hospital in Mt. Scopus, I was struck by how familiar it felt. Patients were all speaking different languages, English, Hebrew and Arabic, moving about and interacting with hospital staff and volunteers.  

I stumbled upon a diabetes education presentation. There were tables with information regarding portion size and food choice, just like MOM’s Diabetes Educator Cecilia Chapman sets up in our clinics. There were nurses overseeing A1c testing and helping patients to understand their blood sugar levels.   

Diabetes educators at Mt. Scopus Hospital

But what impacted me the most during this hospital visit was our interaction with the hospital director, Dr. Tamar Elram. She spoke about the hospital’s vision and right there on her screen was this: “The hospital will be a model of healing, compatible with the values of human dignity.” Immediately, I thought of MOM’s mission “to restore dignity, ‘Healing through Love,’ by providing free healthcare.” 

Dr. Tamar Elram share’s the hospital’s vision

Focus on Food Sources and Production 

Other highlights of my trip included a trek down to the southern region of the country to participate in a unique agricultural tour of “The Salad Trail.” Israel has become a world leader in agricultural research and development, perhaps most famously inventing drip irrigation, which we use here in our own Arizona desert.  

Visiting the Salad Trail

 

I also got to visit various fresh markets and see firsthand how people both in rural communities and inner cities in Israel access food sources. Food deserts are a major issue in the U.S. In fact, in Phoenix, there are 43 food deserts that account for more than 75% of the total number of food deserts in Maricopa County. Many of the patients we serve live in food deserts. That’s why the fresh produce MOM provides patients with the support of community partners is so vital.  

After visiting one market in Jerusalem, the famous Machne Yehuda, I had the opportunity to cook with exciting and exotic ingredients. The market contains more than 250 vendors selling fresh fruits and vegetables; baked goods; fish, meat and cheeses; nuts, seeds, and spices; wines and liquors; and more! Award-winning Chef Yuval Attias guided our group through the busy market, then brought us to his kitchen to cook up a feast of tabouleh salad, roasted eggplant, green tahini, hummus, Mediterranean focaccia, maqluba (a dish of chicken, rice and veggies), musakhan (a chicken dish with sumac spice), and basbousa (semolina) cake for dessert. I can’t wait to share these recipes on our MOM social media channels and website! 

L-R: Chef Attias, spice shop, making bread

Integrating Prayer for MOM 

On a more spiritual note, I used this trip to the Holy Land as an opportunity to pray for MOM’s patients, volunteers and supporters. MOM has recently re-launched its Prayer Warriors program, and it was my absolute honor to bring the prayer list to Jerusalem to offer up a prayer on behalf of MOM at the Western Wall and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.  

I feel there’s so much more I could share, but ultimately, it comes down to this – I’m so thankful. I’m grateful to MOM Executive Director Paula Carvalho and all my colleagues for allowing me to participate in this incredible experience to develop professionally and spiritually during this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity!