This New Portrait Exhibit Movingly Captures Diversity in Israel
At this politically divisive time both in Israel and the U.S., seeing expressions of understanding between different faiths and cultures is heartening. Indiana photographer Tom Casalini saw just that when he focused his lens on healthcare workers with different backgrounds and religions who work side by side at Galilee Medical Center (GMC) in northern Israel, where I am a liaison in the Foreign Affairs Department.
Tom's captivating portraits of staff members — Jews, Arabs, Christians and Muslims —who reflect the same diversity as the 600,000 residents they serve, are displayed in the Healers exhibit in the medical center's surgical wing.
Usually, we only view healthcare workers as being there to care for patients, often overlooking their human side. In Healers, the portraits show each caregiver in an on-the-job moment and a private moment. The exhibit, a window into the lives of healthcare workers, also reflects GMC's guiding principle "Adam l'adam – adam." The quote is from former Israeli Supreme Court Justice Aharon Barak, who once said, “adam l’adam lo ze’ev, adam l’adam lo mal’ach … adam l’adam, adam,” “people [should] treat each other, not like wolves, and not like angels, but… like people.”
This is more than just a saying; it is the driving focus. Everyone who enters our campus — staff, patient or visitor — is viewed solely as a human being no matter who they are, where they are from, or what their background or their religious or political affiliation is. Since March 2013, in accordance with Israel's decision to provide medical care to wounded and ill Syrians, GMC's mission to stand at the forefront of medicine while providing compassionate medical care, also includes over 2,200 patients, women, children and men, who are citizens of a country that considers Israel its enemy.
Casalini says of the project,
“[The] most important aspect of this exhibition is to demonstrate that both the staff and the community that it provides care to are comprised of the same mosaic of ethnic groups and faiths. The portraits highlight the diversity and coexistence of people from different backgrounds, cultures and religions coming together to work in unity. A message so needed today!"
Alongside each portrait, the subject's thoughts about being a healthcare provider are displayed in Arabic, Hebrew and English. The vignettes reveal people who are dedicated to caring for others. Although the professional positions and backgrounds vary from one staff member to another, a common thread that runs through the vignettes is chesed, meaning “to perform acts of loving kindness and focusing on others.”
This inspiring exhibition allows the patients and the community the chance to connect with the human side of our staff members and is just one example of the collaborative efforts of management and the Friends of Galilee Medical Center to foster an environment that promotes healing and wellbeing. On a personal level, one of the benefits of my work is having a hand in facilitating meaningful projects like Healers to further this goal.
The Healers exhibition is open to the public for viewing 24/7, and is a joint initiative of photographer Tom Casalini, the medical center and the Western Galilee PartnershiptoGether program.