I am writing to let you know that Richard Mayhew has decided to step down from his current role as CEO of the Nazareth Trust, which will become effective on 31st December this year.
Richard has been with us as CEO for over 8 years, a full term for a CEO of such a charity. Richard has been discussing his future plans with us over the summer months and reached a final decision to leave in early October.
As a Board, we have witnessed under his leadership significant growth in all our activities and seen firm foundations being laid by Richard for the future of the Trust’s activities in Nazareth. We recognise that this task has been difficult in the face of a pandemic and our financial challenges of last year.
We have admired Richard’s determination to face such challenges head on, to successfully build a talented team to take forward our activities in the Nazareth Hospital, the Nazareth Academic School of Nursing, the Nazareth village, Serve Nazareth and the Pastoral Team, as well as building impressive support for our activities in the USA.
We want to take this opportunity to thank him for his considerable efforts as CEO and wish him well for the future. We will be seeking to support Richard as he seeks new roles and challenges closer to home in the UK.
From 1st January, Waseem Dibbini, currently Richard’s Deputy, will become Acting CEO for the Trust, as we consider as a Board over the first quarter of 2024 the best way forward. We will, of course, seek to keep you informed on the future leadership of the Trust.
I wish to thank all our supporters for your continuing prayers for the Nazareth Trust, and prayers for the safety of our staff and their families in Nazareth. We are a Christian institution, so we hope and pray with confidence in our Lord that we will be able to witness to our faith in this difficult time by bringing words of peace and healing to all whom we serve through the work of the Nazareth Trust.
Chair of Board of the Nazareth Trust
Originally from Sakhnin city, Tamer Hidari is the chief nurse of the operating rooms at the Nazareth Hospital. He is happily married to Haya, a lawyer, and has a four-year-old son named Hassan. In addition to his B.S.N. and M.B.A. from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Tamer furthered his studies by learning about leadership and team development at the International Business Management Institute in Berlin and safety and risk management through Inbar and the Israeli Ministry of Health. Tamer is currently an active advisor for the National Health head nurse office.
Tamer’s unique connection with nursing stems from his family history.
I was around 16 or 17 when my grandpa had liver failure and was waiting for a new liver. I travelled with him across different hospitals for two or three years: Hadassah, Rambam, etc. We went all over. During those hospital trips, I saw what we call “angels in white”, the nurses. I saw how they treated people and looked after them.
At the time, I had to decide my future. Initially, I was planning to study medicine in Romania with some friends. But my grandfather passed away, waiting for a new liver, so I changed my mind. I decided to stay with my family and support them, so I went to study nursing at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.
I started in November 2017, so it’s been about six years and a few months. My previous job was at Hadassah Hospital, where I was the Chief of General Surgery, Organ Transplants and the Trauma Unit for nine years. During this experience, I gained a lot of skills and knowledge, and at some point, I decided to come back home to serve my community.
Yes, I didn’t think about moving back home from Jerusalem for a while. But at some point, I came to visit the Nazareth Hospital. I saw the people and the environment: many experts treating patients with much care. It felt like a family. I was born here, but I was small, so I can’t remember. It felt like closing the cycle.
I also got inspired by Professor Fahed Hakim and his good plans for the hospital’s future. I thought I would like to help make these plans come true, so here I am, and I’m really happy. I’m satisfied with the workflow and what is going on here at the hospital. Even as a small hospital, we are pioneers in some issues, so I think we’re doing a great job.
I came from Hadassah, which is a huge hospital. When I first came for a visit, I noticed that the buildings were smaller, but I was impressed once I went inside and saw the staff and experts that work here. At the Nazareth Hospital, we provide medical treatment and patient care to a high standard. We should plan to get more innovative, have more technologies and grow. And I don’t talk about buildings, but providing more medical services that we currently don’t have. We serve around 500,000 people in the area, and many patients must travel elsewhere if they need a specific procedure we don’t offer.
First of all, I take care of patient safety. I am also in charge of staff management, ensuring our workflow is safe, direct, and smooth. I often need to assign priority levels to different surgeries and gather a multidisciplinary team, including doctors, anaesthetists, X-ray technicians, etc. I need to gather them all for one surgery. I am also aware that surgeries are part of our daily work life. However, they are a major event for the patients and can be very terrifying. That’s why we need to deal with every patient with extra care, providing them with everything they need and making them go to the operating room as calm as possible and go out healthier.
The most challenging is to give the best patient care and get the best from the staff. We pray and make sure every surgery is safe and unique. We have to deal with many challenges during our day: there are a lot of potential disruptions. The most important thing is that every patient that comes in is satisfied, calm and happy that they chose us.
There is a lot of adrenaline from the morning until late night hours. One thing that makes me happy is that we see patients get better. They are so excited and surprised after the surgery that they often return to thank us and share that it was a good journey. We try to take care of every small detail: nobody needs to be cold or in pain. We also keep the families informed before, during and after the surgery. We are happy that despite the challenges, we’re getting excellent results.
Yes, the Nazareth Academic School of Nursing sends us some students. We explain to the nursing students the importance of the operating room, the rules and our high standards. Lately, we’ve had a few new nurses join the operating rooms. We need to go from A to Z with them and explain all the protocols and procedures. Junior staff come in with many questions and fears, but after a few months, we can proudly say they are well-trained professionals. What makes our operating rooms unique is that we are family first, so we look after each other and second, we act like professionals.
I’ve done a few courses and have a subspeciality in organ transplant. When I was working in Hadassah, I was in charge and was there in every transplant surgery. I miss that because we don’t offer this kind of procedure here. However, lately, we are getting more technologies that help us in surgeries, which is also fascinating. For example, we have many laparoscopic surgeries, especially in general surgery and urology. We’ve been offering a new endourology service for three years now. Every year, doctors from around the country come here to receive training in this procedure.
Yes, we do C-sections, and we have a unique procedure called FAUCS: French AmbUlatory Cesarean Section. We were the first hospital in Israel to perform this kind of surgery. One of our surgeons, Dr Handler, is one of the ten doctors in the world performing this surgery. During this procedure, we do the same skin incision, but inside, we divide the muscles and arrive at the baby from behind, not directly, making a small incision in the uterus. During the surgery, we try to provide a warm and supportive environment for the parents, and sometimes, we make a phone call on WhatsApp or a Zoom call with other family members. We want it to be a happy event involving the whole family. Seeing the parents’ happiness and joy is really touching, really unique. It’s the next step in patient care.
C-section procedures can be traumatic for patients who undergo an urgent C-section as you feel like they’re taking your baby away until you get better. Here, we are making a new standard of care for the whole family. We move from trauma to a happy event.
Yes, patients are usually under spinal anaesthesia. However, we’ve had three or four cases when we couldn’t offer spinal anaesthesia because of some deformation in the spinal cord. If that’s the case, the mother must go under general anaesthesia, and the husband stays in the operating room. We also place the baby on the mum after they are born. The demand for the FAUCS is going up yearly, and some patients come from far away, most of them from central Israel. We had lots of celebrities too. We’ve also been training surgeons from other hospitals to perform these surgeries.
Yeah, it’s so much faster. Mothers who had a regular C-section usually start to walk or go down from the bed five or seven hours after the procedure. Those who had the French C-section tend to walk by themselves from the operating table to their bed, and you can find them walking around the ward two hours later. One day after, they go back home like nothing happened. Some even return to work one or two weeks later: it’s incredible!
We try to give each patient what they need. Many of them are religious and ask for kosher meals, so we provide that. Some people must follow specific rules due to their religion, and we accommodate their requirements. We try to make everybody happy and satisfied and deal with every patient’s request promptly.
They come to visit patients. I’m happy to say that they come here every Friday between 12pm and 1pm for a small prayer. This prayer gives us the faith and the support we need to help us be stronger during the week ahead of us: every week we’re dealing with something new, some tragedy or a happy event. We’re so glad to have this time to share as a group of believers.
Recently, I started a new scholarship in management and leadership through the Ministry of Health and the Prime Minister’s Office here in Israel. We had the first meeting on Tuesday with 30 people from all over Israel; it was amazing. Everybody introduced themselves, and when I started to talk about the Nazareth Hospital, people were shocked to hear that we were 162 years old.
They were also surprised to hear about last year’s strike, the support from the staff members and how we act like a family. Everyone came to work anyway, even without knowing if there would be a salary. They were shocked and told me that nobody would have shown up at work the next day if this had happened in their hospital. I think our strength is, firstly, that we are a family. We have a lot of faith in the institution and give our best each day to make the impossible possible. I am proud to work here, and I think it’s really important to talk about it.
It was with much sadness that we learned of the peaceful passing of Joy Fraser on 26th September 2023 after a short illness.
Joy was known and loved by many both in her homeland of Scotland and further afield.
She was the daughter of Alexander and Daisy, her father a minister in the Free Church.
She was brought up in Dumbarton, the middle of five children. After leaving school, she embarked on a career in nursing and midwifery, in which she was much respected and which was to take her to Malawi and Nazareth.
Her career started at Glasgow Royal Infirmary, where she became a sister in A & E and a Night Duty Supervisor. After some years, she was called to missionary work in Malawi, serving as a midwifery tutor in the Church of Scotland Hospital.
She then returned to Scotland as part of the commissioning team for the new build at Glasgow Royal Infirmary.
Joy then moved to the Highlands to be a Divisional Nursing Officer at Raigmore Hospital in Inverness.
It was from here that she went with EMMS to serve as Director of Nursing at the Nazareth Hospital in the mid 1980’s. During her time there, she was highly regarded and played a significant role in the work of the hospital, going on to serve as a trustee and making many long-term friendships.
She completed her eminent career in Inverness, working as a Health Board Executive for the Highlands.
During her time in Inverness, she was an active member of Smithton Free Church.
In 2009, Joy moved to Carluke. Although retired, she did not in any way slow down. She was very involved in many areas of church life within St John’s Church of Scotland and the local community.
Joy had a real heart for people, but especially young people, being involved with various youth groups and the local High School. She was a regular attender at worship, often leading prayer meetings and Bible studies and assisting at the weekly coffee morning.
She was a committed member of the prayer team at Braehead Christian Healing and Retreat Centre, where she also served as a trustee.
Joy was a member of Listen Well Scotland and was instrumental in establishing Carluke Listeners, now with a large number of volunteers offering Christian listening throughout the local area.
A service of thanksgiving for Joy’s life was held in Carluke, attended by people of all ages and from all walks of life, many of whom had known her from times shared both in Scotland and Nazareth. During the service, Rev Elijah Obinna led the congregation in a prayer of thanksgiving for Joy’s sense of what was good, right and decent, for her warmth and love, for every life she enriched and for the faith by which she lived.
At Joy’s request, the gathering afterwards in the church hall was an opportunity to share fellowship together. However, most importantly, it gave an opportunity to share how God had touched people’s lives through knowing Joy.
At her burial the following day in Inverness, Rev David Meredith described Joy as an independent and strategic thinker with a keen, biblically informed mind who was not afraid to challenge the status quo and whose advice was always fresh and insightful.
She had a heart for God’s church and its mission in the world and was generous in sharing her many gifts with others. She was particularly gifted in hospitality, counselling and listening and had a deep affinity with young people, developing strong relationships of trust and encouragement.
Joy will be remembered for her elegance and for the calm and sensitive way she shared her faith.
But in everything, Joy sought only to give glory to God. Her life was rooted in her strong Christian faith and her love for the Lord, whom she trusted and served all of her days.
She will be much missed by all who had the privilege to know and love her.
May she rest in peace with the Lord she loved and served.
We would like to extend our sincere thanks to all those of you who have sent us messages expressing your deep concern and prayer support for the staff and institutions of the Nazareth Trust following the horrific violence and destruction of life we have witnessed over the past days. These very tragic events have deeply traumatised both Jewish and Arab communities in Israel and Gaza and we share in their pain and sorrow at this very challenging time for all of us.
Our prayerful desire is that the Nazareth Hospital EMMS will continue to provide a ministry of healing, hope and hospitality in Jesus name to all those who come to us in their hour of need (as it has during past wars and conflicts in the Holy Land). We also pray that the entire campus of the Nazareth Trust (including the Doctor’s House, the Nazareth Academic School of Nursing and the Nazareth Village will provide a place of peace and refuge to all our service users and visitors during the current conflict.
Please join us in continuing to pray for the following needs in the days and weeks ahead:
With our thanks and gratitude for your prayers and support during this difficult time.
CEO of the Nazareth Trust
Merrill Kitchen’s connection to the Nazareth Trust’s ministries can be traced back to 1972, when she and her husband Paul travelled to the Nazareth Hospital to cover for a surgeon that was on leave. Several years later, Merrill was involved in the early stages of the Nazareth Village. Read on to learn more about her story:
My name is Merrill Kitchen. I was born in Melbourne, Australia, and I have postgraduate degrees in the medical sciences and theology.
I learned about the Nazareth Hospital at a medical conference with my surgeon husband, Paul, in Scotland in 1972 when an appeal was made for short-term help for the hospital.
We shared the big old house on the hospital property with the Bernath, Martin and Haines families. Paul was active in a surgical role while I did lots of short-term jobs in microbiology, teaching nurses, and schooling for my young family.
I enjoyed discussions with Mike Hostetler and others about the possibilities of development of the Village. Later, over almost 20 years, we brought many Australians with a variety of skills for short terms to help in the establishment of the Village.
We spent a short time helping with an urgent need at the Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza. That was a profound experience of the life of refugees.
Also, we have special memories of camping with the Martins, Bernaths and Haines families down along the Dead Sea and into the Sinai region.
We saw the Israeli-Palestinian situation through different eyes and have been committed to finding a just solution for the conflict ever since.
On returning from Nazareth, while engaging in teaching in medical sciences, I had lots of theological questions that needed some exploration, so I took the opportunity to attend theological classes in my spare time and eventually completed a postgraduate degree. This resulted in a career change as I became a college Dean and later a Principal. I was awarded an Order of Australia Medal for my contributions to theological education, which also mentioned my contributions to the Nazareth Hospital.
The Nazareth Hospital employs people from all three Abrahamic religions, and they work together in harmony for the benefit of their patients. Over the years, the hospital has become self-sufficient and a place of learning over a broad range of medical disciplines.
My most treasured memory was giving birth to my daughter Lisa in the maternity ward in 1975. She is very proud of her birthplace and returned with me recently to the Hospital Anniversary.
My name is June Asquith, and I’m a retired vicar from Liverpool. I’m fortunate that I have been part of the church all my life, from being taken to Sunday School at an early age by my aunt, who was a Sunday School teacher. I grew up and became involved in many areas of church life as a lay person. I married Eric, who was another member of my church in Anfield (opposite Liverpool Football Club). We had two children, and it was not until I was 42 that I decided to go to university and study Theology and History.
I then went into teaching for ten years before feeling a call to ordination. At first, I was a self-supporting minister while still teaching and then moved to full-time in 2012. I served in my home church in Anfield, Christ Church, while I was self-supporting and then moved to the Bootle Team Ministry as curate in 2012. In 2014 I was made Rector of St Mary Wavertree. I retired in 2022. All these churches are in the Diocese of Liverpool. I am now supporting the ministry in two churches in South Liverpool.
I was part of my local Anglican church from a young age and a really active youth group. I had been away on a Christian holiday in 1979, and at the youth meeting, they asked if God was calling anyone to serve Him overseas. I felt unsure whether this was me, but I applied to Tearfund for their summer work camps and was selected to go to Nazareth.
Liz and I were asked to be part of the CSSD (Central Sterile Services Department). At that time, we went round the wards and collected used needles and cleaned and then sterilised them, and they were reused. This was before AIDS and before disposable needles were in common use. I also worked in the kitchen part of the time, cleaning out the huge walk-in refrigerator and also cleaning huge canisters for cooking foods. I remember cutting up aubergines and having my hands turn purple in the process. I also remember the very strong Arabic coffee the staff drank and their friendliness but surprise at my drinking both coffee and tea with milk!
I loved working in the CSSD; the staff were so lovely and grateful for our service. In fact, it seemed the whole of Nazareth were pleased that we were there, and we were given a banquet on the last night of our time in grateful thanks for our visit. I also loved early in the morning in the CSSD, those who were Christians would get together and pray and sing choruses before work.
It didn’t seem to matter whether we were singing in English or Arabic, as we knew we were singing the same praise to God. I also felt so welcomed by the Muslim staff. It didn’t feel like there was any conflict between Christians and Muslims, and Jews were welcome at the hospital, though few lived near Nazareth. I also loved the chapel, with the altar a carpenter’s bench, as this was where Jesus would have learned the trade from his father. It was so peaceful and so wonderful to worship together with the Christian staff.
I realised that missionaries were just ordinary Christians serving God where they were. It didn’t matter whether you were serving in Israel or England; you were doing God’s work wherever you were. I was fortunate that I had a sabbatical from my work in the arts at that time to go to Nazareth, but I realised from then that I wanted to serve God in a full-time ministry, but at that point, I did not know what that was. I was shortly married in 1983 but then in 1996 was when I began my degree, and from then on, I believe both teaching and working in the ministry were both places where I could live out my faith more fully.
In 2017 I was feeling a little unfit and decided to take on ‘Couch to 5K’. My church warden asked why didn’t I do a sponsored run, and he would support me. So, with the help of JustGiving, I decided to have a go at the 2018 5K run in Sefton Park, Liverpool. As I have continued to support the Nazareth Hospital since my visit there in 1980, I decided I would split the money raised between my church, St Mary Wavertree, and the Nazareth Hospital.
There is a real sense of God’s presence when we volunteer. Not only the blessing of accomplishing something good for the community but also the sense of God’s closeness in both the good and the difficult times. When I was in Nazareth, I picked up a bug and was ill for a few days and ended up having one of those blunt, second-hand needles put in my backside with anti-biotics. However, convalescing, sitting on the roof of the nurses’ home (now the Pilgrim’s Guest House), I remember feeling so blessed by God. Despite, at the time, planes flying over to bomb Lebanon, I felt nothing could take away that serenity and that feeling of being loved and accepted.
Having visited Israel twice, the land where Jesus lived and taught is such an important place, especially with the ongoing conflict between Jews and Palestinians. The Nazareth Hospital is doing a fantastic job in an area that I believe has no state-provided hospital treatment. Since I was there in 1980, the areas of work and the ministry they provide to the sick, for all people in Nazareth, has grown and developed. Also, the work provided by the Nazareth Village looks amazing. If I ever return, I would love to see that. I love the fact that it’s not just expats, but even when I was there, I learnt so much from the local community, and it’s great that many local students have had the chance to gain education and work through the School of Nursing.
Last year we spoke to Ivone Sima’an, the Nazareth Village weaver.
I was at a church meeting, and Mike Hostetler told us they needed workers at the Nazareth Village. I approached him and said I’d like to work there. Back then, I already had two jobs: I was a seamstress manager at Abu Sna’an and Haifa.
I didn’t know what to do, but my dad said: “No need to be confused. Come, we will pray.” We agreed that the first phone call to ring would be where I should work: it would be God’s answer to prayer. Indeed, the first one to call was Maha Sayegh from the village, and that’s how I started working there.
There was a lot to do at the beginning, including planting, building and cleaning. We all worked hard every day until we could barely stand on our feet. When I look at the Nazareth Village from my home window today, I’m proud of how far it has come.
Life at the the village is such an enjoyment for me. I love to give from my heart because it’s not a top-down relationship: we are a family. We eat from the same plate and share all the small and big things. The management gives so much value to the workers. We all work with a joyful heart because everyone around us supports and encourages us.
The village has taught me three things: love, be generous, give it your all, and sacrifice. Working at the Nazareth Village as a believer, I could show love for the tourists and interact with kindness. I could greet everyone with an open heart. I love the village because it’s my second home.
I worked for 30 years in Kitan, a textile factory. I started as an employee and grew within the company throughout the years: I trained new employees and managed several departments. That job gave me strength and perseverance and taught me a lot about responsibility. However, something was missing: there was no fire of faith burning in my heart. I joined the Nazareth Village as a believer, and my life started to bloom as I learned more and more. I came here to serve with honesty and integrity. All the staff is generous and full of love. Even when I leave the Nazareth Village, I will never actually leave it because it’s in my blood, heart, and spirit.
I will always pray for the Nazareth Village. I will visit and support them; whenever they need me, I’ll be there. I will always be part of the Nazareth Village family. I wish that Nazareth Village grows year after year and has lasting success. I wish all the staff and management find strength and health to keep the bond that ties them together.
In 2023, I’ll come as a volunteer to meet my beloved friends and share their happy and sad moments. Share in their weariness because I’m one of them, and I’ll always be here for them.