Two years ago, my wife Judy and I retired and moved to Israel. For us, it was a big change. Both of us had lived all our lives – home, school, college, university, yeshiva, and our jobs – all in or very close to London.

But in one sense, I was returning home – and not just in the sense that every Jew who moves to Israel is returning home. I am of the seventh generation of a family that has lived in Jerusalem for over 200 years. There is already a tenth generation, and given that we now number in the thousands and it is impossible to keep up with everybody, for all I know, generation eleven is being born – maybe right now in Shaare Zedek hospital.

All 10 or 11 generations have experienced all of Jerusalem’s hospitals - Born in them, been ill in them, recovered in them and died in them. Generation 2 died in the 1865 cholera epidemic, infected while taking care of others hospitalised with the disease. Generation 3 directed the Bikur Cholim hospital, which is now part of Shaare Zedek. 

Possibly the last time I saw my paternal grandmother was in summer 1974. She had been hospitalised in Shaare Zedek, which was bursting at the seams in its then premises in Rechov Yafo, and was in the corridor, awaiting a ward bed.

In spring 2012, I visited my youngest uncle, shortly before his passing, in the current premises in Bayit Vegan. The facilities were greatly improved.

But my main story is the birth of our fourth grandchild also in 2012 – the only one of our grandchildren not to be born in hospital. He was supposed to be born in Hadassah Hospital. However, on that Friday afternoon, he came quicker than anticipated. Our son and daughter-in-law speedily arranged for friends to take the elder boys and then took a cab to Hadassah. But on the way, the young man arrived, delivered in the back of the cab by a surprised father – an optometrist. As they were closer to Shaare Zedek, the cab rerouted, and our daughter-in-law and her new baby were settled comfortably in the hospital just as Shabbat was entering.

The astonished father was given accommodation in the hospital that Friday evening – a new experience for him, but all in a week’s work for Shaare Zedek. In the morning, he went to Shul, the Shul in the Hospital. That was also an experience. Present were fathers of babies whose first Shabbat it was in the world. Present also were patients who might have been celebrating the last Shabbat of their lives, brought in by dedicated relatives and carers. Many men were called to the Torah reading, either because they were naming daughters, giving thanks for the births of sons, or because they were very ill. The gentleman who read Haftorah gave a moving speech. It was Parshat Parah, 3 weeks prior to Pesach, and the haftorah contains the following words ‘I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh’ (Ezekiel 36:26) The gentleman had had a heart operation that same week.

In November 2014, there was a murderous attack on men praying in Har Nof, Jerusalem. One of the victims was the husband of my wife’s cousin, Rabbi Avrohom Shmuel Goldberg. In his memory, friends and relatives donated a 3 bed emergency unit in Shaare Zedek’s Emergency Department. A fitting way to remember a man who, in his calm and kind way, gave so much to many people.

And back to the good news. The boy born in the cab now has two younger sisters, both born in Shaare Zedek.