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June 15, 2006 - Image 27

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2006-06-15

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To be sure, similar stories take
place regularly at other Israeli
medical centers. What makes the
Emek Medical Center unique is its
location in what the Bible called
the Valley of Armageddon, a stra-
tegic crossroads in ancient times
and the scene of many battles.
Today, the area is called the Jezreel
Valley, which includes the Israeli
town of Afula, the hospital's home,
and the West Bank town of Jenin, a
city known for its militance.
Rich, the center's director of
development, weaves much of
the region's history into his book,
which relates tales of a dozen
people — patients and staff mem-
bers alike.
Rich also writes of his own
personal odyssey — a fascinating
tale that he tells in the book's final
His journey began when Rich,
who grew up in Oak Park, Royal
Oak and Southfield, decided to
tour Europe by motorcycle in
the early 1970s. -While living and
working in the Australian Alps,
he learned of the murder of the
Israeli Olympic team in Munich
and, fueled by his anger at the "raw
deal" he felt Israel was receiving
in the world, made a very different
choice: to make his home in Israel.
Many days later, after biking
through Alpine snowstorms, plac-
ing his bike on a railway flatcar
and boarding a ship in Greece, he
arrived in Haifa "with $5 in my
Since then, Rich has lived in one
of Israel's first kibbutzim, where he
raised three children with his now-
former wife; resettled.in Afula;
and managed a factory, where he
supervised about. 300 employees.
It was while working at the factory
nine years ago that Rich suffered
the heart attack that landed him at
the Emek Medical Center.
His experiences at the hospital
as a patient and as a staff member
have dispelled stereotypes he once
had of Arabs, including the notion
that, somehow, few among them
were educated, skilled or involved
in anything academic or profes-
His hope is that Voices from
Armageddon will allow people to
see "the human realities behind
this conflict?' El

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