An Environmental Garden of Healing at Jerusalem’s Hadassah Hospital An environmental garden of healing under construction at Jerusalem’s Hadassah Hospital on Mount Scopus will allow chronically ill patients to enjoy a quiet green corner amid natural surroundings that nourish both body and soul. The garden, the first of its kind in Israel, is being established with the help of a donation from KKL-JNF Australia, and the foundation stone of this groundbreaking project was laid at a ceremony on May 9th, with Australia’s ambassador to Israel and Jerusalem’s mayor in attendance. “This new garden will enhance the hospital, and it is our way of improving the quality of life for all residents of the city,” said Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat at the foundation stone laying ceremony for the new healing garden at Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem. “What we are doing here is much more than establishing a garden: we are part of the mosaic of Jerusalem’s development and the promotion of coexistence. This collaboration between the various organizations proves that sometimes one plus one really does equal three.”
The garden is being created with the support of KKL-JNF’s Friends in Australia, with the families of Jack and Robert Smorgon foremost among them. Dr. Shmuel Harris, a doctor at Hadassah Hospital and himself a member of the Smorgon family, promised to keep a close personal eye on the project’s progress, and added, “The idea behind the garden combines many of the issues to which our family is committed: caring for children, promoting health services, protecting the environment and supporting KKL-JNF in Jerusalem and the State of Israel as a whole.”
The therapeutic garden represents a progressive approach to the treatment of children and young people suffering from chronic illnesses. This attractive site will include a promenade, a maze, a vegetable garden, flowerbeds, play areas and secluded spots for resting. The plan is based on that of a healing garden recently established at the children’s hospital in Melbourne, Australia, and native Australian plants will form part of the Hadassah garden, too.
“This is a wonderful example of the profound friendship between the two countries,” said Andrea Faulkner, Australia’s Ambassador to Israel. “The garden sends a simple and positive message of healing for all.”
Eleven-year-old Yam Shukrun and his twelve-year-old sister Shefa both suffer from cystic fibrosis and are being treated at Hadassah Hospital’s Center for Children with Chronic Diseases. When they were told about the garden project, their eyes lit up. “We come to the hospital every week and spend the whole day here,” said Shefa. “It’ll be really nice if we can go outside and play instead of being shut up in the rooms or wandering around in the corridor.”
“It’s great that we’re to have a beautiful garden and something to do when we’re here,” said Yam.
Hospital Director Dr. Osnat Lev Zion Korach explained that apart from providing young patients with a sense of peace and enjoyment, the garden would also allow some types of treatment to be undertaken outdoors. “The children will be able to relax here and enjoy the sights and scents of nature,” she said.
The foundation stone ceremony took place on the day after Jerusalem Day, and Audrey Shimron, Director of the Hadassah Office in Israel, remarked that no day could be more symbolic or more appropriate to the event. “This garden will continue the medical treatment that begins inside the hospital walls,” she said.
Zeev Kedem, Director of KKL-JNF's Fundraising Division, told those present about the many projects that KKL-JNF is initiating in Jerusalem and throughout Israel, and said, “There is something very special and moving about this healing garden, and it touches the hearts of every one of us.”
Speaking on behalf of Hadassah International and Hadassah Australia, Sir Ian Gainsford praised the wonderful cooperation between Hadassah and JNF Australia. “Thanks to this garden, sick children will be able to sit beneath blue skies, connect with nature and leave the troubles of the world behind them, even if only for a few minutes each day,” he said.
The speeches were interspersed with songs and musical interludes performed by the Yaldei Shalva musical ensemble, which is composed of children with special needs. In the area adjacent to where the ceremony was taking place, work on the construction of the healing garden was already underway, with builders and tractors moving busily to and fro in an effort to finish the job as soon as possible. Tali Shukrun, the mother of Yam and Shefa, observed the progress of the work with interest and said: “This garden will be a breath of fresh air for us. The doctors and nursing staff here are amazing and utterly dedicated, but when you need to get well, an attractive green environment is no less important.”