The team at Shaare Zedek Medical Center's emergency room is used to many terror attacks, but Tuesday night's suicide bombing at Jerusalem's Cafe Hillel brought a new, horrific experience.
As the hospital's doctors and nurses waited to treat the wounded, they received word that the head of their emergency room, Dr. David Appelbaum, had died in the attack.
Appelbaum, 50, had taken his daughter, Nava, 20, to the cafe on the eve of her wedding, and the two were among the seven Israelis killed in the suicide bombing.
Colleagues said Appelbaum, who moved to Israel from Cleveland, Ohio, in 1981, had often been among the first to reach and treat terror attack victims.
"He would appear at the site of every attack, volunteer, get in the ambulances to evacuate the injured to the emergency room," said Dr. Kobi Assaf, director of the emergency room at
Jerusalem's Hadassah University Hospital, Ein Karem.
"I recall how he was distressed by the injured - by what he had seen - but again and again, at night, he would be there. We have lost a dear good man."
Appelbaum's father-in-law, Shubert Spiro, eulogized Appelbaum and his daughter at yesterday's funeral in Jerusalem by asking, "Can there be a greater tragedy than this?"
Noting that Nava's National Service was in the aiding of child cancer patients, Spiro said: "The Jewish people have lost a devoted daughter, the nation of Israel has lost one of its proud, loyal and courageous sons. The world of Torah has lost a true talmid chakham (scholar), and the world of medicine has lost one of its most competent, one of its most creative, and one of its most humane practitioners."
Spiro, addressing Appelbaum's five surviving children, said: "All of you have to grow up now,
very quickly. There's no more time for childish things."
Appelbaum had returned to Israel earlier Tuesday after speaking at a New York University terrorism symposium marking the second anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks.
Hours after landing in Israel, Appelbaum met Nava, to impart some last-minute advice before
As ambulances began transporting the wounded to Shaare Tzedek, hospital director
Jonathan Halevy was wary. Appelbaum was usually the first to report to the hospital after a bombing, however, there was no sign of him.
"It was clear to me from very early on that
when he didn't show up - and I knew he was in Jerusalem, and he hadn't called - a terrible tragedy had occurred," Halevy said. "Confirmation of my suspicions came shortly."
Word that he was one of the victims came from a rescue worker who recognized him at the scene. And the hospital staff had to cope with their own grief as they treated the wounded.
To understand the grief and pain, "it was enough yesterday to look at the sorrowful faces of the emergency room workers while they were treating the wounded streaming into the hospital from the attack," Halevy said.
For his daughter's wedding, Appelbaum had prepared a book with sayings from family members and himself, biblical passages and marital advice.
On a visit to the family early yesterday, Halevy leafed through the book. "The fact that a man
flies, three days before his daughter's wedding, to share this doctrine about preparing for a mass terror attack, which Jerusalem hospitals have unprecedented knowledge of, is an example of his combined outlook - complete dedication, to both work and the family," Halevy said.
Appelbaum was identified at the scene by one of his colleagues, Dr. Yitzhak Glick, from Efrat. Glick arrived at the site of the attack with his emergency team from Gush Etzion in order to help with the evacuation of the wounded and recognized Appelbaum almost immediately.
A little before midnight, the word began spreading through the corridors of Shaare Zedek. Doctors, nurses and staff members cried bitterly. Within minutes, Appelbaum's children began arriving at the hospital, and were later joined by his wife.
Appelbaum worked at Shaare Zedek for many years, but left several years ago in order to set up Terem, a center for emergency medicine in Jerusalem. He returned to the hospital to run its emergency room.
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