Dr Judith Guedalia

We lost our general on the battlefield

Tuesday September 9, 2003
6:00 pm
I am writing this to give you a ‘temunat matzav', a picture of the ‘situation'.  The ‘Matzav' in Israel vis a vis ‘them and us'.

I guess life here is never either/or.  We cannot ‘dress-up, or down' and melt into surroundings and have a few hours ‘off' of being Israeli or Jewish or Arab for that matter.  When I'm on a plane, just before the flight attendants ask ‘are you the Kosher', I have a feeling that I am anonymous and ‘just like everyone else', for example the person sitting in the seat next to me.


No matter what ethnicity or color we are, Here, we are never anonymous. 

Right now I am sitting in the office, having set up appointments for someone who lost a spouse on the ‘August' bus bombing; a little girl (no relation) who was near that ‘recent' bus;  someone whose trauma was being in the ‘one before' bus; and sundry other problems: a person who discovered her brain tumor ‘returned', two PDD kids, a three year old Arab girl who was in a car accident and I am the court appointed neuropsychologist;  a learning disabled adolescent whose parents are more disabled than he in so many more important ways; and a little boy who has school ‘issues'- the one his parents and teachers didn't mention is that he is scared stiff that the guard, who ‘just sits' in the school yard, will not be able to keep him safe. 

6:45 pm
As I am typing this, I hear the news that there was a Pigua near Asaf HaRofeh hospital in Tel Aviv.  More dead, more wounded.  Jerusalem and the rest of Israel is on emergency alert for more terrorist activity - heightened if possible- we are already required to keep our beepers on through the night.

11:30 pm
After hearing a loud boom, and then the ambulances, I went off to the hospital.  Instead of the usual noisy excitement and dread of the emergency room and MCI (Mass Casualty Incident) personnel, I was met with a quiet pall.  Almost immediately I was told by the chief psychiatrist that the head of the ER was at the café (the scene of the terrorist bombing) having a ‘quiet' moment with his daughter the night before her wedding.

Hours later, he, Dr. David Appelbaum, 50, and his 20 year old daughter the bride-to-be, Nava, were not to be found in any hospital.  The family, the groom-to-be and his family, friends of all the family and each of the seven children, international guests arriving for ‘the wedding' who went to the hospital instead of their hotels, all rallied around the family until 3:30 am when the final identification of Nava was made at Abu Kabir, the country's pathological institute.

Dr. Appelbaum had just returned from a lightening visit to New York University Hospitals where he presented innovative ER responses to trauma.  He started his work at the Magen David Adom (Israeli Red Star) and then founded an independent emergency clinic (in which he felt he bypassed the bureaucratic mire and, at his death, he ran both that clinic and Shaare Zedek Medical Center's ER.  He was a doctor's doctor, the expert in triage and instant trauma attention.  He treated thousands of people of all nationalities, colors and stripes.   How many people that he might have treated, Arab and Jew alike, will now suffer because of that anonymous bomb.

Wednesday September 10, 2003
10:30 am

They are being buried now.  She was eloquently eulogized by her father-in-law-to-be as an ‘Eternal Bride'.  Daughter and father joined together forever in death and not off to a new start, a new life at the wedding.

This was not the only family to loose a loved one at the hospital last night, but to the ER staff and the Shaare Zedek Family, the loss was palpable.  We lost our general on the battlefield, and we are left to manage alone and anonymously.

Tags: Dr. David Appelbaum | Mass Casualty Incident | MCI | Neuropsychologist | Pigua | Temunat Matzav | Terrorist Activity