Israel's Hadassah Hospital Gives Top Rabbi Luxury Treatment at the Expense of Patients

Hospital employees say ultra-Orthodox's deputy health minister often steps in to obtain priority care for associates

Head rabbi of the Ger Hasidic sect Yaakov Alter.
ליאור מזרחי / באוב

A Jerusalem hospital gave three rooms to a top rabbi and his entourage on Tuesday, removing patients from the rooms and putting one of them in the hallway, said sources at the institution, Jerusalem’s Hadassah University Hospital, Ein Karem.
   
The rabbi in question, Rabbi Yaakov Aryeh Alter, is the leader of the Ger Hasidic dynasty.

At the time of the move, at least 30 patients were waiting for a bed in inpatient departments, the sources said, adding that Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman chose the rooms for the rabbi. They said the move received the full cooperation of the hospital’s CEO, Zeev Rotstein.
 
“Litzman does this at Hadassah Hospital like it’s his, with the backing of Rotstein,” said one source. A request from a member of Litzman’s staff to get his or her relative treated was a familiar practice, the sources said.

For its part, the Ger dynasty said the allegations were incorrect. The rabbi, a member of the dynasty said, was granted the same treatment any high-level official would receive at the hospital.

Hadassah Medical Center, the umbrella institution encompassing both Hadassah hospitals, said “Hadassah maintains the full right of privacy of its patients."

Still, one doctor said he “receives telephone calls from Litzman’s people every week to two weeks to ‘take care of’ this or that patient.” Another doctor said he received many requests from Ger people.

A senior source at the hospital added that Litzman “turns to the hospital all the time – not just for doctor services or the department manager.”

As another source put it, “We have patients who lie in the emergency room for three or more days waiting for a bed in one of the departments. The hospitality for the rabbi’s entourage comes directly at the expense of the sick,” he said.

Hadassah Medical Center also said that "the medical treatment provided to all patients is one of the most advanced in the world in terms of technology and quality.”