By: Jason Cohen
Two women living in different countries who are nearly two decades apart have much more in common than meet the eye.
Abby Kra Friedman,40, is a West Orange native, who studied at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing, and is now a midwife in Israel. Liat Greenwood, 21, lives in West Orange, was born in Israel, is studying at Penn nursing and plans to move to Israel to be a midwife as well.
The two of them met each other this past fall when Greenwood studied abroad with the Penn University Hadassah partnership, which Friedman did several years ago as well.
“We really had a lot in common,” Friedman said. “Now that she was living my life. We got along really well.”
Friedman is a nurse midwife at Hadassah Medical Organization in Jerusalem and a teacher at the Henrietta Szold Hadassah. She grew up in West Orange and like Greenwood, attended Joseph Kushner Hebrew Academy and the Frisch School for high school. Friedman explained that since she was young there were two things she loved, nursing and Israel. She visited the Jewish homeland at age 14 with a group, at 16 with her family and then on her gap year before college.
“I was in love with Israel, but I wasn’t necessarily thinking about moving there,” she said. “I knew I wanted to do something in medicine.”
What really cemented her relocation to Israel and desire to be a midwife, was doing a semester abroad in Israel with Hadassah in 2000 while studying at Penn.
She eventually made the move permanent in 2005.
“I fell in love with it (Israel and nursing),” she said. “It’s not for everybody. When you’re a midwife you can’t get it out of your system. The semester that I spent in Israel really brought me full circle to where I am today.”
When she met Greenwood this past fall, she described it as a big sister meeting her long-lost little sister. The two bonded, spoke about nursing, Israel, college and became friends.
“It was really very special,” she said.
As they continued talking, they could not believe how they were both from West Orange, went to the same schools and how when Greenwood lived in Israel, she even attended the same elementary school as Friedman’s kids.
“I said oh my God I can’t handle it,” Friedman exclaimed. “All these similarities kept coming.”
Furthermore, both families attend Congregation Ahawas Achim B’nai Jacob and David on Pleasant Valley Way.
Greenwood’s family has lived in West Orange for 15 years. She is a senior at Penn nursing and is also pursuing her master’s concurrently.
She is interested in the intersection between trauma and women’s health and has also volunteered for the West Orange First Aid Squad as well.
“I kind of always thought I wanted to deliver babies for a living,” she explained.
Greenwood lived in Israel until she was 7 and also for a year in middle school. Like Friedman, her goal is to be a midwife and plans to eventually move to Israel as well.
She recalled that when she went abroad in the fall, her plan was to learn about nursing in Israel, but never did she imagine she would meet someone like Friedman.
There was an instant connection between the two women. When Friedman invited her over for Shabbat it was an offer she could not refuse.
They stayed up until midnight talking and found out they lived in the same dorms in college, had the same teachers and many other similarities.
“It was just funny, we could not stop laughing,” Greenwood said. “She feels like my big sister. She’s in a place that I want to get to.”