Dr. Rick Hodes shares inspiration of work in Ethiopia

Dr. Rick Hodes tells a gathering in Scotch Plains about his work with patients in Ethiopia, where he has worked for the JDC for 21 years. Photo by Elaine Durbach

New Jersey, USA – When Dr. Rick Hodes showed his audience a picture of an Ethiopian boy with a facial tumor so huge it threatened to suffocate him, and then showed the boy restored to smiling normality, it was very clear what motivates him.

But the Long Island native acknowledged that only some cases turn out that well. In a country with only 2,000 doctors to treat a population of 80 million, Hodes and his team at the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee confront poverty and tragedy on a scale few Americans ever see, and face an endless struggle to find funding and resources.

On Jan. 27, the JDC’s Ethiopia medical director described his work during a talk at the Wilf Jewish Community Campus in Scotch Plains. About 80 people attended the event, hosted by Women’s Philanthropy of the Jewish Federation of Central New Jersey. Guests included Women’s Philanthropy of United Jewish Communities of Metro West NJ, with which the Central federation plans to merge in July.

Hodes has worked in Ethiopia for the JDC since 1990, with brief spells dealing with crises in other countries. In addition to its assistance to the Ethiopian Jewish community, the “Joint” has served tens of thousands of Ethiopian Jews and non-Jews through clinics, immunization, nutrition programs, family planning, and community health. Read More