JERUSALEM – Last week in Jerusalem, the Silagi family of Encino, was honored during a moving dedication ceremony for donating the Cardiology Critical Care East Wing in Hadassah Sarah Wetsman Davidson Hospital Tower at Hadassah-Ein Kerem inspired laughter and tears.
Andrea Silagi, president of Hadassah Southern California, and her husband Moshe Silagi, with their daughter Karen by their side, were surrounded by dozens of friends, family members and Hadassah dignitaries, including many past presidents, as VIP after VIP lined up to honor them with accolades in the Moshe Saba Masri Synagogue in the tower.
Welcoming the participants, Hadassah Medical Organization chair Annette Sondock told the story of how the Silagi family came to her mind when she was recently in her hometown synagogue in Houston, Texas. “We chanted ‘hineni’ and I thought of you,” she said. “Because whenever there is a need, you say, ‘I am here.’ And you are. Your incredible ‘neshama’ – spirit – runs through Hadassah.”
Hadassah National President Marcie Natan recalled, with emotion, touring the tower in its earliest stages. “We have literally walked the walk in our hard hats during construction together, and to be here with you now is so meaningful,” she told the Silagis. “We are truly blessed to have you as part of the Hadassah family and because of you, we will continue to see amazing progress in the field of cardiology and health care in general.”
Hadassah Medical Organization Director-General Ehud Kokia remembered warmly his first visit to the Silagi family in Southern California shortly after he joined the Hadassah staff. “They are the most warm and hospitable couple,” he said. “Moshe asked me, ‘How can we help?’ He really cares about Hadassah and HMO.”
The fact that the Silagi family donated the cardiology wing was more than symbolic, Kokia added, putting his hand over his heart. “Your family is full of heart and warmth and passion, and I thank you from the bottom of my heart,” Kokia told them. “All of you and all of us are one family.”
Immediate past Director-General, Shlomo Mor-Yosef, was also overwhelmed with admiration. “As soon as we started to think about this project, we had a partner in Moshe,” Mor-Yosef said. “He took me to see many people; he opened many doors. And in his straightforward, direct way, he couldn’t understand if people didn’t write a check. He believes so deeply in what we represent that when he speaks, he speaks so strongly.”
Former Hadassah President Marlene Post, who has known Andrea Silagi for more than two decades, remembered how much Andrea Silagi talked about her husband when she first met him. “When I met him, I understood why,” Post explained. “You gave him one of the greatest gifts when you introduced him to Hadassah, an organization where he is a full partner with you. You gave him a way to show his love of country in a tangible way. I can’t think of any two people who exemplify true passion for everything you do, and I don’t mean only in terms of donating funds.
“You want to make Hadassah great because it serves people and you have a love of the people. You are one of the best examples of this, and for that everyone in this room says thank you.”
Andrea Silagi thanked all the friends, family members and colleagues who were in attendance. “We have worked so hard over the years together, and you have become like sisters,” she said. “On my first trip here as chair of Hadassah Southern California in 1999, it was Shlomo’s first day as director-general, and we had lunch,” she recalled. “Since then, we have had a really special relationship as we tried together to build support for Hadassah and this tower.”
Andrea Silagi has been involved with Hadassah for 28 years, since she moved back to the United States after seven years in Israel, where she met and married her husband. After being invited to a local fundraising luncheon and developing a strong connection with other members, her colleagues recognized her people skills and ability to attract new members and donors. She quickly rose to be group president and then Hadassah Southern California chair before joining the national board. She has served as coordinator of the development division and was instrumental in helping raise funds for the new tower.
Her daughter Karen Silagi quipped that she was born an only child and as a teen, discovered that she had sisters she didn’t know about named Hadassah who demanded her mother’s time and were added to the family will and trust. “I was a little envious but eventually realized that Hadassah was entitled to the time, resources and dedication,” she said. Visibly moved by her parents, her eyes filled with tears and her voice was full of emotion as she explained that in each generation, children are supposed to become better people than their parents. “If that is true, you have set the bar impossibly high,” she said. “I hope to meet your example, and I’m very proud of you.”
The new Cardiology Critical Care East Wing, donated in honor of the couple’s parents, is under construction, and a large, temporary plaque honoring the generous donation was unveiled.
Moshe Silagi, a real estate developer, said that “what started in our wildest dreams seven years ago turned slowly to reality. My parents were Holocaust survivors who opened their arms to welcome us and give us a place and opportunity to give back. Hadassah has been serving Israel for 100 years, and now, 2,000 women and men will celebrate the dedication of this building – a place where we, through the doctors, nurses and staff, are helping to heal a country physically and in many ways.
“A country’s strength is not only built on planes and guns, and in many ways, Hadassah makes the country strong in the most humane of ways. We are proud to be here,” he said, leading the crowd in a festive shehecheyanu blessing.