November 1, 2007: Let’s Roll!

I am writing on Friday right before Shabbat. Tomorrow night I leave for Tiveria to join the Alyn Charity Bike ride.

About 500 men and women will be riding bikes from the North of Israel to Jerusalem. One week with nothing to do but ride. Talk about the ultimate vacation.

As much fun as these rides are, I have to remind myself why we are doing it. After all, the fact that 500 people get a break from work, family, and e-mail is nice, but it is only really significant for those of us who are riding. Of far greater significance are the kids at the Alyn hospital who are the beneficiaries of about $3,000,000 that we will raise from this ride.

Let’s face it, life is really, really hard if your child needs to stay in a hospital. The kids there are not ones with little scratches, these are kids who need attention around the clock. They will never be the same as before they came.

Most hospitals send family home at night. Not Alyn. Not only can parents stay there (in beds – not cots – round the clock, the waiting room has a refrigerator and showers. They even have a neat play area for the brothers and sisters of the patients who might be a bit nervous to visit a hospital.

As amazing as the facility is, the kids there are even more so. I met someone who has a severe muscular condition. He has no control over almost his entire body. He has a computer which he operates by using a stick manipulated by his mouth. Despite this challenge, he apparently set up a computer supply business on the Internet and is running it out of his room at Alyn. The guy who lives next door to him paints pictures. He paints by using a brush held in his mouth.

Despite their serious conditions, they are not forced to wear the standard issue hospital robes which have that lovely habit of flapping open in the back. They can dress like anyone else. Yes, their rooms have medical equipment in them, but they also have posters and paintings and whatever personal touches they want.

Hey world, how about this story. While Israel was going after Islamic Jihad terrorists, a family was in the wrong place at the wrong time. An Israeli missile that killed an arch-terrorist also killed all the members of a Gazan family except for a father, son, and daughter. Go ahead and blame us if you want, but we all know that if the Jihadists stopped their Jihad, there would be fewer tragedies like this. Knowing that the terrorists’ goal is to kill Israeli children like my own, I can’t really say that we made a mistake. Yet the suffering of this innocent family is still a tragedy.

Anyway, this little girl, whose name is Maria, was so badly injured that she was taken from Gaza to Alyn. Her father, Hamdi, accompanied her, and he has never left her side. The government of Israel paid for her treatment for a year and then told the hospital to send her back. The only hitch is that in Gaza she would be dead within twenty-four hours. You see, our “peace partners” tend to spend all their cash on bullets and rockets instead of healthcare. So the director of the hospital told the government to stuff it, and Maria continues to receive treatment at Alyn. I wish her father could wheel Maria to Annapolis and ask the “peace conference” delegates to again explain how Israel is an Apartheid state. How much does the Palestinian Authority pay for the treatment of Jews injured by acts of terrorism?

I have found many special places in Israel. Some are special because of their spiritual importance. Some have a fascinating history. Still others are unbelievably beautiful. But some places here are special because of what we accomplish. The Alyn Children’s Hospital is just such a place.

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