When a former Naval officer called and asked for a speaker on a topic of interest to former U.S. Military officers, I knew I wanted the very best. Having just heard a presentation by Dr. Edward Karotkin to the 400 Club on his recent work at Zvi Medical Center of Bar Elon University in Tsfat, and the humanitarian aid the Israelis are giving to the Syrians engaged in civil war just miles away from that hospital, I knew the right person who would engage the members of the Hampton Roads Chapter of the Military Officers Association of America (HRCMOAA), as well as educate on the great work Israel is doing in the world and the bridges to peace that they offer during times of need.
On Friday, April 17, I arrived at the Virginia Beach Resort and Conference Center to meet the leadership of the HRCMOAA and support Karotkin and his efforts, only to find him engrossed in conversation with a HRCMOAA application in hand. Karotkin retired as a Major in the Medical Corps of the United States Army before landing in Norfolk at the Children’s Hospital of The Kings Daughters, where he currently serves as medical director of the Neonatal- Perinatal Outreach Center of Virginia and North Carolina.
Karotkin wowed more than 50 retired U.S. Military Officers and their spouses with his presentation, “Medicine as a Bridge to Peace.” While speaking about the role of the work of the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater’s constituent agency, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, as well as his work as past chair of the locally run global organization, Physicians for Peace, during humanitarian aid missions to Romania, Cuba, Israel and more, the audience was so attentive that the room was practically silent.
Following Karotkin’s remarks, HRCMOAA president, CDR Bert Ortiz, USN (Ret) said, “I believe our membership gained an appreciation and respect for the dedication and efforts of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee and Physicians for Peace’s worldwide missions.”
Enthralled by Karotkin’s stories of aid and education to locals, as well as a funny anecdote or two, the retired officers and their spouses left understanding that the Jewish community sees tikkun olam (repairing the world) as a global commitment, for not just taking care of our own global Jewish community, but every walk of life, and the possibility of a true bridge to peace.
by Robin Mancoll, UJFT CRC Director