I recently traveled to Israel as part of an incredible group, the Rubin Israel Experience. Ten of us, ages 27 to 40, spent ten amazing days touring Tel Aviv, Yokneam-Megiddo (sister city of St. Louis) and Jerusalem. We visited the Yitzhak Rabin Center, Masada, the Dead Sea, The Wall, Yad Va’shem and Mount Herzl. We explored an Ethiopian absorption center, a military base, a kibbutz, and an electric car facility. At each of these places, we learned about art, culture, religion, food, politics and people. Our eyes were filled with so much history. Our hearts were enriched with the overwhelming joy of being a religious majority.
Prior to my visit to Israel, my impressions were based upon media reports of controversy, danger and war. During my visit, I found that in reality, life there could be very similar to ours. There are families with young children who feel very safe and go about their day-to-day business. They deal with homework and sports and activities, but they live in a spiritually rich and historically relevant country.
Israelis also face the same health concerns as the rest of us. To this end, the professional highlight of my trip was spending a day with Dr. Meir Shalit, director of the Clinical Immunology and Allergy Unit at Hadassah Medical Center. I was immediately in awe as I arrived at Hadassah. It is an enormous facility with world-renowned physicians, facilities and technology. This modern world is balanced by the history of the Chagall windows in the hospital synagogue. Each of the twelve stained glass windows tells an amazing story. Dr. Shalit and I spent the morning discussing similarities and differences of allergies in St Louis and in Israel. As allergy sufferers, my patients and I know too well how the pollen count spikes during springtime in St. Louis. It was interesting to learn that pollen is just as high in Jerusalem during the spring and stays high even further into the summer than we experience in St. Louis. Dr. Shalit and I found that we both treat allergies in a similar way, with the goal being to restore quality of life to our patients. Our day together passed quickly as we compared medical philosophies and toured the hospital, stopping to look immediately next to Hadassah where a brand new Hadassah Medical Center is in the final stages of construction and scheduled to open very soon! Hadassah is very fortunate to have such a caring and skilled physician such as Dr. Shalit. I feel so fortunate to have made a lasting personal and professional connection with him.
My time in Israel as part of The Rubin Israel Experience was truly an experience of connection. I felt an amazing and powerful bond on a cultural, religious and professional level.
Thank you to Pam and Ron Rubin for the opportunity of a lifetime. I feel so incredibly fortunate to have been a part of The Rubin Trip 2011.