Soroka Medical Center in Be'er Sheva is the largest hospital in southern Israel. It's a major teaching hospital affiliated with Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, whose campus is adjacent to the hospital.
As soon as rockets begin falling in southern Israel, wounded soldiers and citizens are brought to the hospital. However, during Operation Cast Lead in 2009, Operation Pillar of Defense in 2012, and Operation Protective Edge in 2014, the hospital was forced to temporarily close eight of its operating rooms because they were not fortified against missiles.
It became apparent that Soroka desperately needed to add operating rooms that meet the fortification requirements of the Home Front Command and that would enable the provision of adequate medical care during combat.
In 2013, The Fellowship approved a $600,000 grant for the construction of two fortified operating rooms. Last week, a year after Operation Protective Edge, a moving dedication ceremony for these two fortified operating rooms was held at Soroka.
Rabbi Eckstein attended the ceremony, as did Gadi Yarkoni, a regional government leader who was operated on at Soroka after being injured by mortar fire at the end of Operation Protective Edge. He mentioned how emotional it was for him to attend the ceremony, and to see the staff who treated him for two critical weeks last summer.
"I want to thank The Fellowship's donors and Rabbi Eckstein,” Gadi told those in attendance. “The residents of southern Israel depend on Soroka. We hope there won't be a need, but if there will be a need – for the soldiers who defend us and for the residents – there’s a solution during quiet times and during war. When soldiers defend us, if they get wounded and need treatment, the hospital now has the best equipment possible."
Professor Yohanan Feizer, assistant director of Soroka, also spoke at the dedication, saying, “Rabbi Eckstein visits us frequently and keeps in touch with us out of an honest intent to help the hospital as much as possible. Because of The Fellowship, we can give more secure care to the residents in southern Israel and to IDF soldiers. I have no doubt that The Fellowship will continue its activities for many years. We're grateful for the effort and willingness to help us. Thank you very much."
Rabbi Eckstein addressed the gathering, saying, “When I heard that you need fortified operating rooms, we at The Fellowship immediately took up the challenge. . . The assistance comes – if you don't already know it – not from me; it's not my money – it's the money of thousands of our Christian donors who want to show us that we're not alone. They stand at our side during the struggle in which we exist here in Israel.”
Thank you, Fellowship friends, for standing with Israel and making this lifesaving care possible!