New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg dedicated an Israeli hospital in his father’s name during a visit to Jerusalem.
With Sephardi Chief Rabbi Shlomo Moshe Amar looking on, Bloomberg put a mezuzah on the doorpost of the newly opened William H. Bloomberg Magen David Adom Jerusalem Station.
“My family was attracted to Magen David Adom because of its spirit of volunteerism and its unwavering commitment to treat all people equally regardless of race or religion,” Bloomberg said at the dedication ceremony. “Today is a great day for Magen David Adom, its supporters, my family and the people of Jerusalem.”
Bloomberg’s large donation helped build a new five-story wing on the hospital's original building, which was built in 1963. New additions to the hospital include a blood donation center, a training center, a visitors’ center and a conference center.
“I don’t think our father could ever have imagined that we would one day have the opportunity to travel to Israel, no less dedicate a major medical facility in his name,” Bloomberg said of his father who died when Bloomberg was a junior in college.
More than 1,000 staff work at the hospital, which serves an estimated 1.2 million people.
Even in Jerusalem, Bloomberg could not escape questions about the Occupy Wall Street protests.
“We just want to make sure that people have the right to protest,” he said when asked if there were any plans to crack down on the movement. " The First Amendment is a wonderful document. It gives you the right to protest, it also gives you the right to not protest.”
Bloomberg added that he and Nir Barkat, the mayor of Jerusalem, had “very similar views of protecting people’s rights to the freedom of speech.”
The politician also compared Jerusalem to New York City, saying that both are iconic cities that have been the targets of terrorism.
Bloomberg finished his visit to Israel by having dinner with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. He gave the Israeli leader an American flag and asked him to pass it along to freed Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit and his family, telling Netanyahu that New York’s support for Israel was “strong and unshakeable.”