Dr Judith Guedalia

Stop And Smell The Flowers

There is a saying in English "Stop and smell the flowers" which loosely means to take time out and enjoy the beauty in life.  In Shaare Zedek Medical Center, Jerusalem, one hardly sees people walking slowly and enjoying the framed pictures that decorate the walls.  I too am always rushing from one place to another. However, there is only one place that I do stop to enjoy a sense of peace.


The place is the halls on the fifth floor near the Hedi Steinberg Auditorium and not far from the Neuropsychological Unit I head.  It is always a mixed and special experience for me. Hanging on the wall are framed photographs of flowers. They are each individual pictures of a flower; the colors are vibrant, reminiscent of early spring.  They are alive yet still.

In a sense they exemplify the attributes of their photographer - Edward Michael Adler, 1948-1979 - my cousin of blessed memory. Eddy's life was cut short by his attributes.

Growing up I remember Eddy as one of the Adler boys. At family gatherings with many boisterous children running about he remains uniquely etched it my memory as a quiet boy.

He grew up to become a quiet dedicated man, though not wealthy he modestly supported many charities, Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem, Israel, was one of them.  He was inducted into the imbroglio of the Vietnam War, which so many of his age group and middle class orthodox Jewish upbringing, easily avoided by staying in university or going into the clergy.  He didn't.  He went into the army and as the human soul he was, could not shoot to kill anyone and so became a Conscientious Objector and was trained as a medic.

On returning home he continued working in the public health field at Staten Island Hospital as a Blood Bank Supervisor. It was there that he made his ultimate selfless contribution.  He always ate his lunch alone in the parking lot of the hospital, in his car, so that afterward he could Daven Mincha quietly and inconspicuously.

On the afternoon of November 29, 1979, from the safety of his car he noticed a youth armed with a knife force a female nurse in a van. To quote the Congressional Record:

" ... without regard for his own safety, Adler got on to the van's rear bumper and began shouting and pounding on the roof."

As the assailant drove the van erratically around the parking lot, Adler fell off and suffered fatal head injuries. The nurse sustained lacerations before being thrown out of the van, she lived.  Eddy was posthumously awarded the Carnage Hero Fund Medal.

So next time you come to Shaare Zedek, come to the fifth floor and join with the memory of a quiet brave man and stop to look at the flowers.

Tags: Edward Michael Adler | Flowers