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Offering Hope: Guest Speaker Mr. Jorge Diener, Executive Director Hadassah International

On Friday 24 February 2023, on the 1-year anniversary of the war in Ukraine, Jorge Diener, the Executive Director at Hadassah International, came to speak at our weekly assembly about his 3-month humanitarian medical mission in Poland, and about the bad conditions Ukrainian refugees are facing.

Mr. Diener told us about how he had entered Poland for the first time as a Polish citizen, and how his four grandparents had left behind citizenship when they fled Poland due to the Holocaust and moved to Argentina. He had told us how he felt it was a symbolic act of “reestablishing balance through a century of collective and family tragedy and rebuilding across four generations of my family.” 

Mr. Diener’s colleagues from the Hadassah Medical Organization in Jerusalem and Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization of America, travelled to Poland on a medical humanitarian mission. We learnt that 4 million refugees that had crossed the Ukrainian border — mostly into Poland. Many refugees had been stuck in hiding or on trains for weeks, unable to get medical attention. As Hadassah’s hospital was set up only three hours from the border, they had many people coming in and seeking help.

Mr. Diener told us an awful story of how a baby’s feet had been burned by boiling water on a train that could not stop for any type of medical attention for four days. Fortunately, due to the amazing work of the Hadassah doctors, they were able to heal the wounds and reconstruct the damaged skin on the child’s feet.

Hadassah was a part of many aid organisations from Poland and around the world that set up an incredible relief platform, including temporary bedding, food, clothing and much more. 

As Mr.Diener said, “we can’t see the destruction of lives and livelihoods of an entire nation and remain indifferent, just because we don’t remember our suffering and struggle. We must always remember the human suffering and struggle of anyone confronting evil powers ready to annihilate lives systemically.” 

In the Dvar Torah given on the very same day, Parashah Teruma, we learn about the importance of giving. Not only donating money, but offering our time, services or even just reassurance to make the people struggling aware that we are here in support of them. We must seize the opportunity we have to give back, as it is a privilege. I encourage everybody to look into how you can do your part to help the people of Ukraine. 

Thank you Mr. Diener for your time, your hard work and your extremely impactful presentation. 

Lili, Grade 9