Pioneering Spirit: How JNF UK and Ruach Dromit are transforming cancer patients’ lives

“I have two medical lives – my conventional medical life and my complementary medical life. I’m a believer in combining conventional medicine with complementary techniques – this is Ruach Dromit’s philosophy, so I’m very much at home here.”

Ruach Dromit (Southern Wind) is a Be’er Sheva based charity providing palliative care to cancer patients. The charity was the chief beneficiary of JNF UK’s most recent Rosh Hashanah Appeal – the generosity of our donors enabled the organisation to purchase new premises for a clinic in Be’er Sheva.

Dr Shragit Greenberg, a passionate believer in the potential of complementary medicine, was recently appointed the organisation’s Director. JNF UK spoke with Dr Greenberg to discuss the future of the project and how the generosity of our donors is helping Ruach Dromit care for some of the 18,000 Negev residents currently fighting cancer.

Raised in Be’er Sheva, Dr Greenberg gained her qualifications at Ben Gurion University. Following her graduation Greenberg travelled to Vancouver in order to obtain further training; the city was to remain her home for the next seven years, and it was here she first developed an interest in complementary medicine.

“I was working alongside a clinical psychologist in family practice and palliative care, a really excellent doctor – perhaps the best doctor I’ve worked with. She used hypnotherapy as part of the care she provided for patients. I began to study with her and grew to appreciate the potential of hypnotherapy to help patients cope with life-threatening illness.”

Complementary treatments of the kind offered by Ruach Dromit are designed to boost patients’ sense of wellbeing as they fight cancer and deal with the side effects of the treatments they are required to undergo.rdii

“I took courses in reflexology and healing – anything that might help someone deal with a serious illness. Some people in the medical establishment are suspicious of complementary medicine, but I could see the results for myself. Someone who has a good attitude, a positive attitude, is so much more likely to cope with a serious illness than someone with a negative outlook. I saw how the two types of treatment related to each other, how complementary treatment accelerated healing.”

“I returned to Be’er Sheva and eventually became head of palliative care here. While my career in conventional medicine was moving forward my passion for alternative treatments continued to grow.”

Shragit became aware of Ruach Dromit when the sister of a patient told her of the ‘wonderful people’ who had made such a difference to the final stages of her brother’s life.

“I thought nothing of it at first – there are many wonderful people working with any cancer patient – but she was insistent, always telling me about the ‘extraordinary place’ and the people who volunteered there, and I began to investigate.”

Ruach Dromit operates from Soroka hospital and its new premises in Be’er Sheva. The charity’s 35 volunteers provide therapies to some 200 patients monthly.

Though ambitious for the future, the charity remains small and demand is likely to outstrip supply for some time to come.
In its early stages, Ruach Dromit struggled through the difficulties that beset many charitable initiatives; money was short and volunteers struggled to find time to dedicate to the project. Not only has JNF UK invested money, but staff have assisted Ruach Dromit in drafting an action-plan to ensure that it is ready to meet whatever challenges it faces in future.

“We have lots of ideas for the future. We’re keen to extend our work with non-Jewish Israelis, particularly Bedouin. We’re also planning lectures on alternative healthcare.”

“I was asked to join Ruach Dromit as Director. We’ve hired a number of new people recently. I’m new at Ruach Dromit – I’ve been here three months, but I’ve already seen lives transformed by the work we’re doing. People return to Ruach Dromit again and again, often to specific therapists. So many times I’ve heard a patient call one of our volunteers a ‘wonderful person’ or a ‘special person’.”

JNF UK does not restrict its work to large organisations. Ruach Dromit is just one of many grassroots initiatives to have benefitted from our financial assistance and administrative support. JNF UK looks forward to watching this inspiring project grow further, helping more Israelis in their fight with cancer.