There are memoirs, and then there are memoirs. “This Narrow Space: A Pediatric Oncologist, His Jewish, Muslim, and Christian Patients, and a Hospital In Jerusalem” falls into the category “and then there are memoirs.”
The author, Elisha Waldman, has written a memoir that is both sobering and rewarding as he takes us inside a Pediatric Oncologist Department at a Jewish Hospital in Jerusalem named Hadassah. Dr. Waldman, an American Jew, with strong family and religious ties to Israel relocates to Israel to work at the Hospital where the patients and the staff are a mixture of Jews, Muslims, and Christians and together they form a unit that works together to help and support children of all religions who are suffering from terrible cancers. While they navigate collectively to help all the children and their parents and relatives at all the stages of treatment, and in some cases simply to alleviate the pain and make patients as comfortable as possible who are at the end of life, the scene and politics and violence outside the hospital depict a picture so disturbing and horrifying that you wonder if there is any humanity left in the warring factions: factions who represent a small minority of the Arab and the Jewish populations but nevertheless create devastating effects and consequences for families seeking help for their sick children.
Mr. Waldman’s memoir might be the best in your face reality of what goes on in this part of the world that I have ever read. It is an engrossing piece of work and, throughout I found myself giving thanks to the brave men and women who work in a field that on its best days are difficult and on its worst days it could have you questioning everything you ever believed in.
This is a piece of work that is going to stay with me for a very long time. It is simply amazing.