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Pesach at Shaare Zedek

06 April 2017

If you think your Pesach preparations are hectic, spare a thought for the patients, staff and visitors who will come through the doors at Jerusalem’s Shaare Zedek Medical Centre these holidays.


As a 1,000 bed facility treating over half a million patients per annum, preparations for Pesach take on a whole new dimension at this unique hospital where top quality medical care is infused with Jewish tradition.


In the weeks leading up to Pesach, planning begins for the massive logistical undertaking that is ensuring all facilities throughout Shaare Zedek’s two main campuses are chametz-free.


This comprehensive mission is overseen by the Hospital’s rabbi backed up by an extensive team of assistants and volunteers who work with maintenance crews and department heads to ensure that every corner has been checked for any forgotten bread or snacks.


Several days before the onset of Pesach, chametz is no longer allowed in the building and everyone entering is asked to refrain from bringing in any chametz.


A similarly ambitious plan goes into effect in the kitchen where thousands of pounds of matzah must be ordered well before all the dining services are switched over to Kosher for Passover.


Shaare Zedek’s catering is under the direction of Head Chef, Moti Buchbut who came to Shaare Zedek several years ago following stints at some of Jerusalem’s top kitchens, including the Inbal and King David hotels.


Once the candles are lit and Pesach begins, every effort is made to make the time as festive as possible.  Numerous centralized Seder services are held throughout the medical departments.


Australian born and trained midwife Monique (Tempelhof) Katz works at Shaare Zedek delivering babies in the hospital’s maternity unit.


Shaare Zedek is one of the busiest maternity hospitals in the Western World, with over 22,000 births per year.  This translates into approximately 60 births per day across the 2 campuses; one baby every 24 minutes!


Seder night is no exception in this incredibly busy maternity ward.


Monique says, “Pesach at Shaare Zedek is really a unique experience.  I have worked at Shaare Zedek on Seder night, however, we midwives are often very busy and often don’t get to the Seder as there are so many births happening throughout the night.


“The hospital organizes food and seder plates for all of us.


“We midwives enjoy seder night together, but most of the time, little babies make their appearances throughout the night.  In past years, some of the midwives have brought in their own commentaries on the Haggadah, and would contribute to a very meaningful Seder.    There was never wine as we were working.”


Many of the new mothers who have celebrated Pesach in Shaare Zedek have described the experience as one of the most memorable Seders of their lives.


For patients who can’t make their way out of their rooms, volunteers come to them.


Dr Allan Garfield, Chairman of the Australian Friends of Shaare Zedek notes, “Pesach at Shaare Zedek is a true illustration of what sets the Hospital apart and makes it so special.


“Shaare Zedek has the ability to blend advanced, innovative medicine with compassion and attention to its patients every need.”