“In the Holistic Center, they treat both the patient’s body and mind, with a focus on the mind, in order to ease the suffering of patients. It is not only about easing the pain, but about prolonging life.”

Prof. Yonatan Halevi, Director, Shaarei Zedek Medical Center

 The activity of the Holistic Center in the Shaarei Zedek Medical Center provides cancer patients and their family members with access to a regular and reliable framework of alternative medical treatments. The supporting treatments that are given to cancer patients have a significant impact on their quality of life, and on the ways in which they can cope, both physically and mentally, with the challenges of their illness.

 It is important to note that our activity in Shaarei Zedek is based on a legal contract that affords a collaboration between the Yuri Shtern Foundation and the hospital. This is expressed in financial support for the foundation and in professional support as well. The Holistic Center’s volunteers work in all of the departments of the Oncological Center and in the Children’s Wilf Hospital. They hospital’s medical staff, including Prof. Nathan Cherny and the director of the Oncological Center, Prof. Nir Peled, direct their patients to receive alternative medical care with us as part of the accepted treatments in the Oncological Department. The approach is integrative, and it eases the challenges of cancer in substantial ways.

 In the hospital the treatments that are provided by our caregivers are: various touch-based therapies and massages, shiatzu, reflexology, holistic pulsing, reiki, breath-based therapy, guided meditation and more. Many of our caregivers incorporate healing techniques as well as mindfulness.

 Our years-long experience has shown that after receiving treatments from our caregivers, many patients report a substantial relief in the symptoms caused by radio and chemotherapy, including increased appetite, better sleep, renewed sensation in the extremities, and decreased nausea or numbness. The treatments provide hope and improve the patient’s ability to cope with additional chemotherapy, to engage in daily activities and routines, and with that, improve their prognosis. Additionally, alternative treatments also ease depression and anxiety which are very common among cancer patients and their family members. The treatments strengthen the patients’ inner healing power.

 Holistic Center hours of operation in the Oncological Departments

Oncological Day Hospitalization – Sun-Thu, 9:00 – 14:00

Hematological Day Hospitalization – Sun, Tue-Thu, 9:00 – 11:00

Children’s Hospital –Sund-Wed, 9:30-11:30

Hematologic-oncological Department – Sun-Thu, 16:00-18:00

 For more details:

Ilana Russel, director of volunteering and instruction


The holistic treatments are given by volunteering and certified caregivers, without cost.


Shaare Zedek Medical Center Website

Lena Shtern, founder of the Holistic Center, shares:

“For me, Shaare Zedek is our Alma Mater. This is place in which, in the summer of 2007, our activity, both physically and emotionally, began to form and develop. The hospital is a complex place, which many of us do not want to visit and often hurry to leave waling through its corridors. But for Ilana Russel it is part of her work in the Holistic Center. Ilana is in charge of our activity in Shaare Zedek and like a soldier, she has tremendous spirit. She would not trade her place of work in the oncological departments, despite all of its complexities. She carries with her a tremendous sense of purpose, of meaningful work, as if in the battlefield, which fills her up every day anew. Ilana is a physical psychotherapist, and she knows all of the spaces in Shaare Zedek, especially, floor six through eight where her ‘kingdom’ is, so to speak. Ilana is in charge of the work and activities of 60 volunteers and she manages it like no one else.

Ilana also remembers the personal stories of the patients and their relatives, as well as of each of the volunteers that work under her. She always has a smile, she always listens, she always find the right word or piece of advice to those who need it.

Together with Ilana works Neta Eliav. Together they manage the activity of the volunteers in the oncological and hematological day hospitalizations, in the oncological hospitalization, and the children’s hospital. Recently, our volunteers have also been occasionally working in the intensive care unit, in the premature delivery unit and in the surgical department, to which we were invited by senior surgeon, Dr. Joseph Halberton".


Orit Azar, formerly in charge of the Holistic Center’s activity in Shaare Zedek:

"Imagine you have to go to the hospital. The entrance to the hospital is filled  with a smell that can only exist in this place, and if we pay attention, memories from the past and sensations in the body reacting from previous experiences can rise up. A tall building, elevators, different people from all walks of life, corridors, almost no windows that bring light in. We arrived at the oncology department, time begins to blur, an announcement: 'Patient number 136 to room number 5', a blood test, nurses running around to provide a proper response and treatment for each patient, thoughts running through your head: "How will it go today?", "How long will we stay here?”, " Did the tests turn out well and will I receive treatment?", "Today I am also meeting with the doctor", "What will the doctor say?", "When will the medicine arrive and they will give it to me?”

"And in the middle of this whole experience, suddenly a therapist comes and approaches you, introduces himself and says that he is a volunteer at the Holistic Center, a touch-based therapy caregiver. He explains that the treatments are given free of charge and that they can help the body relax a little from the stress and tension. They can alleviate the side effects caused by the disease and the medicine, but also with issues that are not directly related to the treatment and the illness. He continues and says that the treatments can help the body cope a little bit better with what is happening at the moment, strengthen it by giving it the attentive touch that the body needs. The caregiver looks you in the eyes, puts a hand on your shoulder and asks you: “how are you, how are you feeling today? How does your body feel? How has the week been for you?” He invites you to the holistic treatment room and tells you that in that room, the lights are deemed, that there is pleasant and relaxing music that comes out and merges in that small capsule of a room. Little by little, with an enveloping, attentive and careful touch, the body agrees to surrender itself into the mattress and let go, to accept the touch and the treatment experience, where the variety of parts that we are made up of are made possible, where powerful, significant, and calming moments can take place. At the end of the treatment, we will say goodbye with anticipation of meeting next week".

"Imagine a hospital ward where patients stay for days, weeks and sometimes months, lying in beds and merging with everything that happens to them and around them. Here too, a caregiver arrives to the patient's bed and offers a little ease for the soul and relief from pain, a touch that gives the body a pleasant and calm feeling, eyes that at you, see you and are there with you, with all of you, as you are!"


The unique activity of the Holistic Center at the Wilf Children's Hospital in Shaare Zedek

Since November 2017, the Holistic Center began to operate at Wilf Children's Hospital. The Center’s caregivers provide touch treatments to children as well as their parents in the hematology-oncology day hospitalization unit and in the inpatient, intensive care, dialysis and natal wards.

We look at the parents and the children as one unit that functions in times of crisis. Therefore, we take care of the children as well as their parents.

At the children's hospital, we also treat children with a variety of medical conditions, children defined as 'palliative' with the cooperation and referral of the support care team: the palliative nurse, Sissy Bartov, and Dr. Iris Fried, head of the pediatric oncology-hematological department. The work at the children's hospital requires specific skills, and communication skills with children and family members. That is why the Holistic Center provides special training to specialize in the treatment of children with oncological-hematological issues and their parents. The uniqueness of the treatments at the Children’s Hospital is characterized by multi-framework that brings together various elements of the medical staff, the school for hospitalized children, music therapists and animal-based therapists, medical clowns and more. Treatment at Wilf Children's Hospital in the Shaare Zedek Medical Center is provided on Sunday-Thursday between the hours of 9:00-12:00.

Shaare Zedek Holistic Treatment Principles:

-       The treatments are given to patients and their family members free of charge.

-       The timing is flexible according to each department and as needed.

-       The integrative treatment is offered by the caregiver as well as through direction from the medical, nursing or supporting staff in the hospital.

-       The integrative treatments are giving alongside the medicinal treatments and in real time.


Patients share experiences:

“I look forward to each treatment! The treatments ease the side effects and make our bodies stronger when facing chemotherapy. All cancer patients should know about these treatments and receive them.”

Rina, a patient at Shaare Zedek Medical Center

“The volunteers are angels of compassion.”

Mohammad, a patient at Shaare Zedek Medical Center

“In April 2017 I began chemotherapy in the oncological day hospitalization department in Shaare Zedek. My personal and professional life went off course. I arrived at the department after an operation and a month later I met Orit Azar, who was in charge of the alternative treatments, and Anat Moscowitz, the reflexologist. I want to thank you for the patience, the professionalism, and the smile in the morning and every time we meet. For the care, the ability to give, and for giving me a humane and wonderful treatment experience in the most difficult of times. Thank you for being there for me, in my private moments of weakness;  your care, professionalism and humanity allowed me to cope with the process in its beginning and will defently help me in the future. With great gratitude.”

Batya, a. patient at Shaare Zedek Medical Center

“Thanks to the massage, the sensation in my feet is coming back. The treatments are very relaxing and help lower my blood pressure. This is very significant when receiving chemotherapy. The treatment is very positive, and the help that the therapists provide the patients gives me a good feeling. I am now very close to my therapist, Tehila.”

Lucia, a patient at Shaare Zedek Medical Center

“Thanks to the reflexology treatments, there is a significant improvement in the side effects. I feel that there is a cumulative effect of the treatments. The treatments weaken the side effects and thus strengthen the body's resistance to chemotherapy. This allows me to receive stronger doses of chemotherapy and speed up the treatment. I am very much looking forward to the treatments, especially from the therapist Orly. Her touch has a very powerful feeling. All cancer patients should know about these treatments and receive them. Donors should also know about the project and help...” Rina, a patient at the Shaare Zedek Medical Center

“Instead of arguing with the nurses, this half-hour calms me down. It gives me the strength to be calm. The therapists are soulful, and they do it with love. They have no agenda. There aren't many people who would do something just like that. They give a lot. Another thing that helps to cope.”

Sadek, a patient at Shaare Zedek Medical Center

“After Ilana's treatments, my legs feel light, and my sense of stability when standing and walking returns. The sensation in my hands returns and I can fold my fingers. The treatments give me a good general feeling. I am very grateful to Ilana and the volunteers and whoever initiated this project. No one helps terminally ill patients with any so much patience, adaptability and good will.”

Abigail, a patient at Shaare Zedek Medical Center

“The experience is fun. It helps to turn chemotherapy treatments into a much more positive experience. I feel that due to the disease and the treatment, a lot of stress accumulates. The treatment releases what has accumulated in the body. The therapists are sensitive. It's simply a positive thing.”

Rebecca, patient at Shaare Zedek Medical Center

“The alternative treatments were very beneficial for me. The fact that they are done voluntarily, and that the caregivers are not an integral part of the department's staff, as is customary in important medical centers in the world, indicates the underestimation of the contribution of these treatments to the recovery and the strengthening of physical and mental health during the cancer treatments. I hope that this situation will be corrected soon, and that the regular treatments will routinely incorporate alternative medicine, as well as aspects of nutrition, physical activity and mental support, all of which have a positive and strengthening effect on the immune system.”

Dina, a patient at Shaare Zedek Medical Center