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The Singing Nurse

Writen by: Neta Yaron
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25/03/2020
160
All

All over the world, doctors and nurses are working around the clock, right now, to save lives and stop a pandemic.  They have left the comfort of their homes, their families and their lives to fight on the frontlines and the whole world is grateful for it.

Medical teams, throughout history, have been the fighters on the frontline. This was as true 50 years ago as it is today.  This is the story of a nurse, a fighter on the frontlines, in 1967. Ruhama Ronen was an 18 year old nursing student who lived in the Old City of Jerusalem. Although she was used to working long shifts, nothing could prepare her for the outbreak of the Six Day War (June 1967) and the unending flow of wounded into the hospital.  Overnight, the hospital became a field hospital as wards were set up in every available space.

The nurses worked 12 hour shifts, sleeping in a hospital room but under, not on top of, their beds in hopes that if the hospital was bombed, they would have some protection from shrapnel. Jerusalem was at war and the city was on edge. Every resident had a transistor radio glued to their ear to catch the news, much as we are glued to the media today to catch the latest update about the corona virus.

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On June 7, the transistors suddenly announced the earth shaking news – Israeli troops were at the Western Wall, standing before the Temple Mount. The hospital fell silent. Moments later, everyone erupted in tears of happiness and gathered to celebrate in the streets.

A few days later, the songwriter, Naomi Shemer, added a new, triumphant, stanza to her famous song, “Jerusalem of Gold” which was published in all the newspapers.

We have returned to the cisterns

To the market and to the market-place

A ram’s horn calls out on the Temple Mount

In the Old City.

And in the caves in the mountain

Thousands of suns shine –

We will once again descend to the Dead Sea

By way of Jericho!

Ruhama had always loved to sing and she would sing to the wounded to ease their pain. After a particularly busy shift caring for the war wounded, she saw the song in the newspaper and went to the main ward of the hospital.  Dozens of soldiers who had come from the front lay side by side in make shift beds. Ruhama sang the well-known song.  When she began to sing the new stanza, both the wounded and the staff began to cheer.  Ruhama describes this transcendent moment as one of joy and sorrow.

You are invited to watch and listen to Ruhama’s story and hopefully, you too will be encouraged by the song, the singer and the story.

The story of Ruhama Ronen was filmed as part of 50 Years, 50 Faces, a special project produced to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the unification of Jerusalem. It tells the stories, large and small, of the people behind the historic events of the Six Day War. Heroic as well as everyday stories, that touch on the fateful and decisive moments that changed the face of Jerusalem, of Israel and of Israeli society forever.

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