Hadassah’s new hospital tower stands as a symbol of a lasting partnership.
Shoshana London Sappir|Special to the Jewish News
The state-of-the-art Sarah Wetsman Davidson Hospital Tower was dedicated Oct. 14 at Hadassah Hospital’s Ein Kerem campus with a tribute to the late Bill Davidson and his widow, Karen of Bloomfield Hills, for their seminal contribution to the $360 million, 19-story building.
At a luncheon for Hadassah’s Society of Major Donors in the entrance atrium of the new building, whose glass walls overlook the Judean Hills on Jerusalem’s western outskirts, the heads of Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization of America, and the Hadassah Medical Organization (HMO) thanked the Davidsons for their generosity and vision that made construction of the tower possible “both on time and on budget,” in the words of Prof. Ehud Kokia, HMO’s director general.
Marcie Natan, Hadassah national president, commended the Davidsons who, she said, embody the Jewish tradition of transmitting values, faith and identity “from generation to generation.”
The tower is named for Bill’s mother, the late Sarah Wetsman Davidson, who was a leading figure in Hadassah since 1916, when she hosted Hadassah founder Henrietta Szold in Detroit. Sarah went on to found the Detroit chapter of Hadassah.
“Sarah passed her love of Zion and of service through the generations,” Natan said. “This tower began with the love of a mother for her children and that love was returned.”
Sarah Davidson’s grandson, Ralph Gerson, spoke at the ceremony. “As a small child, my grandmother Sarah told us we had an obligation and privilege to support Israel and Hadassah. She passed that on to my mother [Dorothy Gerson of Franklin] and late Uncle Bill. It was an easy decision for Bill and Karen to support the tower. He was a man of vision and knew the importance of the medical center for research and healing.”
Bill and Karen Davidson donated the $75 million cornerstone of the hospital tower, and the family later added another $12.5 million to complete the project.
“The hospital [tower] is another gift to the State of Israel from Bill and in remembrance of his mother, Sarah, a devoted Zionist,” Karen Davidson said. “It’s also a confirmation from Bill of his belief that the Jewish people have been in this land for more than 3,000 years.”
Bill’s sister, Dorothy Gerson, said, “I was thrilled and very moved at the dedication. It’s a dream come true. The building is wonderfully put together — there’s something outstanding and wonderful about it.”
While in Israel, the Gersons went to Beit She’an, an excavation they had visited at least 30 years ago. So excited by the amazing progress over the years, Dorothy and her husband, Byron, decided to memorialize the stage at the amphitheater there in honor of her grandparents, Joseph and Bessie Wetsman, who were early Zionists. Joseph had owned theaters in Detroit.
The tower opening coincided with the centennial celebration in Israel of the founding of Hadassah in New York in 1912 as a women’s organization devoted to supporting Zionism through medical relief and education.
The new building, designed to house all of the hospital departments and operating rooms, incorporates cutting-edge technological infrastructures with a new standard of patient care, including private and semi-private rooms, menus on demand, indoor healing gardens, balconies and the hospital’s first intermediate care center.
JN Story Development Editor Keri Guten Cohen contributed to this story.