At Nazareth Hospital, Arabs and Jews Work Together

120-Year-Old Facility Run by St. John of God Brothers

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NAZARETH, Israel, MAY 2, 2002 ( It may not be easy to imagine a hospital in Israel where Arab and Jewish doctors and nurses work side by side.

Yet this is the case of Holy Family Hospital, run by the Italian Brothers of St. John of God.

In this hospital, Christians, Muslims and Jews get together even to pray the Our Father, and Muslim nurses ask a Catholic nun to read a Gospel passage before they begin to work.

Holy Family Hospital, located in one of Israel´s cities with the greatest percentage of Arabs, is a model of coexistence and cooperation between people of diverse ethnic, religious and political backgrounds.

The hospital began to operate 120 years ago under the direction of the Hospitaller Order of St. John of God. It serves a population of 250,000, has 105 beds, and includes emergency, radiology and cardiology services.

The facility yearly registers 7,500 hospitalizations, 3,500 operations, 1,500 births, and 20,000 outpatient visits.

It has become the principal center for the prevention of breast cancer both for Arabs and Israelis, «thanks to the donation of an American Jewess sent by the Israeli society for the struggle against cancer,» the hospital´s general director, Giuseppe Fraizoli, explained.

«What seems a miracle for some who come here, is a daily experience for us,» he added.

Yet there are problems. Fraizoli explained that the hospital´s service «requires the equivalent of $11 million a year, but income is not more that $9 [million] or $10 [million]. The difference is made up by the religious from other activities.»

The hospital is an irreplaceable source of income for 300 families, most of them Arabs, who would have no means to subsist in an area where the rate of unemployment is high.

«You out there, please remember this hospital,» Fraizoli implored.

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