BY DANIEL COHEN
In the midst of apartments, trapped in a cul-de-sac, the one story building sat with little to distinguish it from the market on the corner. Two offices occupied the space inside; one for drivers being qualified to drive on Israeli highways and carry their precious loads of children and passengers, the other for demonstrating the serious reason for a spiritual commitment to a society that cares about each individual in it: Yad Sarah.
On the right side, Ginetta Volodasky met me with curiosity when I introduced myself. This 51 year old, comfortable, yet serious woman from Tashkent wondered about my mission; to see, learn and write about the Dimona Yad Sarah operations and the people who work there. I say comfortable because she has worked as a volunteer for several years helping people with physical disabilities, find the best equipment for mobility and therapy. She has a background in several languages and medicine to call upon to meet the needs of injured and sick residents.
She is partnered with a lovely 64 year old Shoshana Voknin (who looks 40) from Morocco, in their public service and administration efforts, all without computers, I might add. Even so, I was given the hospitality of smiles and a cup of coffee, while asking my distracting questions.
These two work under the management of Rav Hed-Ofek Raphael, a 15 year veteran at Yad Sarah, with a background in electrical engineering. He is respected for more than his 70 years on the planet. He is an intelligent, learned man who keeps a sense of humor in dealing with the public. Clients who are ill may not show their best side when most in need of services and may appear at their desk to be overly demanding, abrupt and even arrogant, when in fact they are in pain or staring death in the face for the first time in their lives. The Rav is that patient, understanding, father-figure that calms and soothes the fevered brow of those worried about failing health, bills and lawyers.
This office is the source of regular, consistent assistance in easing the suffering of roughly 150 people each month or 2,000 each year. The volunteers are divided into a two member team for the morning shift and another team for the evening shift. They are well stocked with everything from canes to walkers, to humidifiers and fans.
I observed their business-like approach to handling a client who was returning a cane early that had been issued without the appropriate paperwork. Without fuss or complaint, the matter was resolved by the Rav and business carried on as before. I had need of these services twice before when gout crippled me and I was happy to ride my bike to this office today to observe and report on vital health needs being met so well, by people-oriented staff. That critical human factor is a real source of healing mind and body, YES - in the desert town of Dimona in the south of Israel.