A nonprofit, independent news source to inform, inspire, educate and connect the St. Louis Jewish community.

St. Louis Jewish Light

A nonprofit, independent news source to inform, inspire, educate and connect the St. Louis Jewish community.

St. Louis Jewish Light

A nonprofit, independent news source to inform, inspire, educate and connect the St. Louis Jewish community.

St. Louis Jewish Light

Israel honors Muslim nurse who recites Hebrew prayer for dying Jewish patient

Maher+Ibrahim%2C+head+nurse+on+Emek+Medical+Center%E2%80%99s+Covid+ward.+Photo+courtesy+of+Emek+Medical+Center

Maher Ibrahim, head nurse on Emek Medical Center’s Covid ward. Photo courtesy of Emek Medical Center

Abigail Klein Leichman

Ibrahim was on duty recently when a religious elderly Jewish patient was nearing his end.

Emek spokesman Larry Rich describes the poignant scene to illustrate how coexistence pervades daily life in Israel even if it doesn’t always make headlines.

“The patient’s family would not make it in time for the inevitable farewell. Maher, trained in Jewish studies, applied his knowledge and deeply empathic spirit at that critical moment,” Rich tells ISRAEL21c.

“In a phone call with the man’s family, Maher the Muslim nurse recited aloud in Hebrew the Shema Yisrael prayer –‘Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One.’

“His act of loving empathy, kindness and understanding went far beyond the norms of nursing and in that brilliant timeless moment, he personified the spirit of Emek and Israel,” Rich says.

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Ibrahim’s action touched a national chord. He has been invited to light one of 12 flames that will usher in this year’s official 73rd Independence Day celebrations at Jerusalem’s Mount Herzl on the night of April 14.

This is an honor, Rich reminds us, “bestowed upon those who represent the best within our society.”

Among other torch lighters this year will be Yaish Giat, a 102-year-old spice shop owner originally from Yemen; Shira Iskov, a survivor of domestic violence; and IDF Maj. Maor Cohen, who volunteers extensively with pediatric cancer patients and other populations in need

Emek Medical Center in Afula, in the historic Jezreel Valley, serves a patient base that is 50 percent Jewish and 50 percent Arab (including Muslims, Christians, Druze and Bedouins) as well as Circassians. The makeup of the staff reflects that diversity in a way that is quite common in Israeli hospitals.

“The living philosophy of Emek is coexistence through medicine,” says Rich. “This is the hope of Israel.”

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A nonprofit, independent news source to inform, inspire, educate and connect the St. Louis Jewish community.