(VIDEO AND PHOTOS IN EXTENDED ARTICLE)
A dedication ceremony was held at Rambam Hospital for Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein Z”L Shock Trauma Room, honoring the memory of Rabbi Eckstein, founder of the International Fellowship for Christians and Jews (IFCJ). As a dear friend and supporter of Rambam, Rabbi Eckstein supported the establishment of Sammy Ofer Fortified Underground Emergency Hospital and its fortified command center.
Approximately 80 family members, friends, and Rambam management and staff came together at Rambam Hospital for the dedication ceremony for the Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein Z”L Shock Trauma Room. Rabbi Eckstein, a 2012 Rambam Award winner who was niftar in February 2019, founded the IFCJ to promote friendship, understanding, and coordination between Evangelical Christians and Jews on the subject of mutual sympathy for Zionism and support for Israel.
Among those in attendance were Eckstein’s daughter Yael, who followed in her father’s footsteps and now serves as President and CEO of the IFCJ, Eckstein’s widow Joelle, Sheik Mowafaq Tarif, the spiritual leader of the Druse community in Israel; General (Res.) Yoram Yair, Chairman of The LIBI Fund – The Association for the Wellbeing of Israeli Soldiers; Mrs. Nava Barak, President of Elem – Youth in Distress; Dr. Michael Halberthal, Director of Rambam Health Care Campus; Professor Rafi Beyar, President of International Friends Associations; and Dr. Esty Golan, Managing Director of the Department of International Relations and Chief of Strategic Development.
The ceremony was moderated by Mrs. Gila Hyams, Rambam’s Director of Nursing, and touching speeches were made by Dr. Halberthal, who noted that, “Rabbi Eckstein was really surprised when Rambam gave him a badge of honor. He didn’t realize how significant he was to us.”; Dr. Hany Bahouth, Director of Trauma and Emergency Surgery and Medical Director of the Teaching Center for Trauma, Emergency and MCS; Mr. Dan Lahat, a former trauma patient who spoke with deep emotion about his accident and subsequent recovery and rehabilitation process at Rambam; Yael Eckstein; and Joelle Eckstein. Interspersed between the speeches were a poignant video about Rabbi Eckstein, as well as prerecorded tributes from Jewish Agency for Israel Chairman Isaac Herzog; Israeli businessman and philanthropist Lev Leviev; Professor Rafi Beyar; Israeli-American businessman Haim Saban; Nava Barak; and Sheik Mowafaq Tarif, who all spoke about the late rabbi and the tremendous impact he made on them, both personally and professionally.
In her speech, Yael Eckstein spoke movingly eloquently about her father and his legacy. “As I watched the video about my father, on the one hand, it made me very proud of the organization he founded with such passion. But on the other hand, I’m also proud of him, and I miss him so much. I think it’s so appropriate that this room is named after my father, because I know there is no better advocate in heaven for all of those people who enter the room. I know that he’ll be rooting for them, praying for them, and beckoning on their behalf,” she said.
Rambam maintains the busiest trauma center in the country, treating 40,000 patients annually in the Department of Emergency Medicine, which is directed by Dr. Aziz Darawshe. More than 800 of these patients are severely injured and are treated in the hospital’s shock trauma room, which is essentially the heart of the department.
Over the years, the IFCJ has donated more than $2 million dollars to Rambam. “It’s amazing to stand here, knowing that the IFCJ played a role in helping to fortify this facility,” declared Yael Eckstein, adding, “People always asked my father whether such activities should be the responsibility of the government. He would respond that, ‘yes, that’s correct, but I can’t let these people suffer because it isn’t being taken care of.”
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)