This Photo Opened My Eyes

March 8, 2024

Several weeks ago, during one of our volunteer missions to Israel, we held a party at Safra Children’s Hospital. It was to celebrate the birthday of Eli Morrison, a remarkable boy who was lost to Ewing’s Sarcoma last summer at the age of seven. We invited all the children in Safra able to attend the party on what would have been Eli’s eighth birthday.

I was taking pictures to show Eli’s family, and I casually snapped the shot below on my phone. When I stopped to actually look at it, the still photo on my screen showed me what my eyes had missed.

I was suddenly awed by the depth and breadth of Sheba Medical Center’s mosaic, which is of course the depth and breadth of the Israeli mosaic.

On the far right is a religious Muslim woman from Gaza. Twenty percent of the Safra Children’s Hospital’s patients are from Gaza or the West Bank. Next to her is a modern Orthodox Israeli nurse. And as you scan across the picture, you have different streams of Orthodox Judaism, a Muslim Israeli-Arab, an Ethiopian-Israeli orderly, and a secular Israeli woman.

This picture sits framed on my desk now. And I can’t stop looking at it.

There are no politics here. No fighting, no conflict. If everyone in the frame sat down at a table to talk, there would be strong disagreements to be sure, if they even shared a language. But here, at this random but precious blossom of time in the lobby of Safra, they all want the same thing – their child to be healed and healthy. Or the patients under their care to get well.

Sheba staff treat ALL patients equally without regard to race, religion, nationality – anything other than a child in need of healing. And they don’t just treat them equally in the medical sense. They also treat them equally in the sense of dignity, worth and importance.

Within the walls of Sheba, under the sheltering wings of the Shechinah, the divine presence, all the reasons for hate and division and conflict melt. We just want those we love to have the blessings of health. And the incredibly dedicated and hard-working Sheba staff want to give those smallest of patients the gift of good health and long life.

At this difficult and painful moment, any optimism about peace and coexistence sounds empty, or worse, a cruel false promise.

Yet inside Sheba, we can catch a glimpse of what should be. Of what might be. Let those who use words like “genocide” and “apartheid” come and spend just fifteen minutes in the lobby of Safra Childrens’ Hospital for a glimpse not only of the reality of Israel, but of the world for which so many of us fervently wish and pray.

We will not let pain and cynicism dim that vision and cause us to turn away from it. Those children in the photo deserve to have us stay at the task. We all deserve better.

The 10,000 staff of Sheba will do their part, with our help.

Am Yisrael Chai,


P.S. If you are a woman, you can see this inspiring beauty in person by joining our Women’s Mission, March 31 to April 4. For more information, go here.

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