Soroka Medical Center
Defending Israel’s Health
Chanukah Greetings and Year-End Appeal
Dear Friends,

We hope your Chanukah was joyous and filled with light, and extend warmest wishes for a Happy and Healthy New Year, with best wishes to you and your loved ones for much success and fulfillment in 2014. Having just celebrated Chanukah, the Festival of Lights, I find it apropos to share with you a beautiful story of Soroka’s dedication to “Tikun Olam” (repairing the world). This newsletter includes the profoundly moving story of a Soroka ophthalmologist who was part of Israel’s humanitarian mission to the Philippines and who restored vision to dozens. This was indeed a Miracle of Light for the patients who received the gift of sight.

2013 brought many exciting developments to Soroka. Under the leadership of Dr. Ehud Davidson, our plans for the Comprehensive Cancer Center are becoming a reality. I had the pleasure of attending the Cornerstone Ceremony last month, and it was truly thrilling and moving to gaze at the cranes poised on the construction site, where the work is commencing. Read below for details on the project and the ceremony.

I encourage you to visit our website regularly, where we regularly post news of interest. Also, if you do not already receive our email updates and event invitations, please be in touch and we will add you to the list. American Friends of Soroka also has a Facebook page. If you “like” us on Facebook you will benefit from our regular posts — and will be able to view pictures and videos from our events.

AFSMC has accepted the challenge to provide Soroka’s Pediatric Oncology Department with a special fund to guarantee that all patients can receive requisite advanced chemotherapy treatments, even if not covered by the Israeli healthcare system as they are “not in the basket.” Soroka champions a personalized approach to cancer treatment, using state-of-the-art tools of genetic analysis to create the most effective treatment possible for each patient. This is very meaningful project for the families of the Negev, as it greatly improves patient outcomes. Each year approximately 4 children will benefit from this fund, at a cost of $80,000 each.

Please consider making a gift to Soroka Medical Center during this holiday season. Your generosity helps us fulfill our lifesaving mission and advances our innovative, cutting edge research.

With our Sincere Appreciation for your Support,
Rachel Heisler Sheinfeld
Executive Director
Save the date:
June 17 - 2014 Gala, NYC
Special Year-End Giving Options
Please select one that is meaningful for you and write it on your return envelope.
Breast Health Center
Comprehensive Cancer Center
Emergency Services & Preparedness
Genetics Institute
Neonatal Intensive Care Center
Pediatric Oncology Special Patient Fund
As a service to our donors, we will send an acknowledgment or a certificate for all gifts made in honor or in memorial for your designees.
Did You Know That Soroka is:
The only major medical center in the entire southern half of Israel
Building the region’s first Comprehensive Cancer Center
Responsible for the health and emergency care of a million people including 400,000 children
A strategic asset for all of Israel as the only medical center on the southern front
The largest employer in the Negev and a key factor for the development of the Negev
Dedicated to advancing research and providing the best care, while treating the patient as a whole human being
A combination of medical excellence, dedication, and the achievements of pioneering Israel
A significant opportunity to partner in having a very real impact on the lives of families and children
Cornerstone Ceremony for Comprehensive Cancer Care and Research Center

The 150 million shekel building project is now underway, to benefit the 18,000 cancer patients Soroka treats every year — 750 of them children.

Be’er Sheva Mayor Rubik Danilovich, Sharon Haziz and Soroka Director General Davidson

The construction commencement ceremony for the Comprehensive Cancer Care and Research Center held at Soroka last month was a significant milestone in the annals of the residents of the Negev. Popular Israeli singer Sharon Haziz, who herself had breast cancer, MC’d the ceremony. Ms Haziz reflected on her story: “I discovered I was sick on my 36th birthday. That revelation took me by utter surprise. After that my days were packed with questions like “Why me?“Why now?” During that period I discovered many coping skills that I never dreamed I possessed. The questions were replaced with thoughts of what will be after… My optimism and love of life led me, together with the love and support of those surrounding me, on the path to recovery. Only someone who has actually undergone chemotherapy knows the extent and value of the warmth and support provided by the hospital staff and that is why it is so important to me to be part of this very meaningful project”.

The incidence of cancer in the south and around Beer Sheva has increased sharply in the last few years. The number of cancer cases has risen in general in the southern district, but lung, bladder and breast cancers have definitely taken the lead.

At present, oncology facilities are scattered far and wide throughout the hospital grounds. Most are even located in the basement area designated for wartime hospital use. The inappropriate location of the different units, the overall crowded atmosphere and poor physical conditions make it that much harder to provide medical treatment for these difficult cases.

The Comprehensive Cancer Center, whose construction has recently begun, will consist of a five-story building that will centralize the treatment of oncology and hematology patients under one roof. Transitioning from units and departments spread all over the hospital to a single center will greatly improve the care options. The new center will be constructed at a high standard to meet the modern demands of patient-centered oncology care, and include:

Oncology and hematology day treatment facilities (ambulatory care)
Oncology and hematology outpatient clinics
Hospital wards
Research labs
An oncology pharmacy
A bone marrow transplant unit
Complementary medicine
Spacious therapeutic gardens, and waiting and treatment areas

Dr. Ehud Davidson

Dr. Ehud Davidson, Director of Soroka Medical Center, remarked “The Cancer Center will operate in full cooperation with all the entities in the community involved in the care of cancer patients, synchronizing the work of all pertinent medical, technological and psycho-social services. The highly professional staff at Soroka treat these patients with great sensitivity. These patients are confronting the reality of a harsh disease and the new center currently under construction will serve to ease their plight as well as make the work of the staff more effective”.

Soroka Medical Center is a tertiary hospital serving a population of one million. The broad information and database on the patients provide fertile ground for conducting unique advanced research studies. The Cancer Center will be able to lead in the field of Oncology-Epidemiology-Genetics research due to the special population mix found in the Negev and close collaboration with the Faculty of Health Sciences at Ben-Gurion University.

Silvan Shalom

The Ministry for the Development of the Negev and Galilee is a key partner in this project. Member of Knesset Mr. Silvan Shalom, Minister of National Infrastructure, Energy and Water Resources, Minister for the Development of the Negev and Galilee and Minister of Regional Cooperation stated “The

Ministry for the Development of the Negev and Galilee gives tremendous importance to advancing and upgrading medical services in the Negev. The establishment of the Cancer Center at Soroka will contribute to the quality of research and the health of the residents in the area. It represents another giant step in advancing the health field in the Negev”.

Beer Sheva Mayor Ruvik Danilovich shared with the participants at the ceremony his personal experience when accompanying his late mother for her treatments in the Oncology Institute located in the basement: “Soroka’s physicians and nurses in the Oncology Department are professional and dedicated, but the physical conditions simply do not suffice. As

Ruvik Danilovich

Mayor I set various goals in the fields of education, housing, employment, but when speaking about health you are talking about quality of life and that is the most important thing. I want to sincerely thank Dr. Micky Sherf, former director of Soroka Medical Center and today Deputy Director General and Head of the Hospital Division at Clalit, and the Ministry for the Development of the Negev and Galilee for their foresight, assistance and cooperation in carrying out programs such as this one for the benefit of the residents of the Negev.”

Prof. Samuel Ariad, Director of the Department of Oncology at Soroka Medical Center offered his thanks to donors: “Some 30 years have passed since I was an internal medicine resident and first saw the special treatments provided to cancer patients at Soroka. The field of oncology at Soroka has made tremendous

Former director of Soroka
Medical Center
Dr. Michael Sherf

strides since then. Globally too, the field of oncology in the past few decades has undergone vast changes. New chemical substances have been introduced, therapeutic protocols have become more complicated, but their use has greatly improved the prognosis of the patients. In the past decade new biological drugs have been adopted that are dependent on the accurate identification of the developmental mechanism of the tumor. Accordingly, today more precise diagnostic means are required.

We are on the brink of a new era. The establishment of the Cancer Center will enable our patients to receive appropriate treatment that will be administered under the very best conditions. This could not be achieved without the generosity and kindness of the donors and without the help of good people who toil day and night for the success of this important initiative.”

Benefit Concert

On October 19, American Friends of Soroka Medical Center hosted a festive Benefit Concert at the Young Israel of Scarsdale, where we raised money for the Pediatric Oncology special fund. A sincere thank you to the event sponsors, who helped us arrange an enchanting evening.

Rona Berns & Maggie Kagan

Professor Joseph Kapelushnik, head of Pediatric Oncology at Soroka, was our special guest. Professor Kapelushnik, who directs all clinical care and research for Pediatric Cancer, takes his work extremely seriously — and does not rest until he knows he has done the utmost for each family seeking cancer care for a child. This can present him with great challenges. Of particular note is the fact that he strives to help indigent families get access to cutting edge therapies for a sick child, when insurance does not cover — indeed he takes it on as a personal mission. He has created this special fund at Soroka for pediatric cancer patients, to help fund chemotherapy in those situations where it is not covered by the government Insurance, and the family needs assistance. In Israel, experimental treatments are not covered by insurance. If a child, G-d forbid, has a disease that does not respond to current therapies, and the doctor wants to try a drug that is not currently in the insurance “basket”, the family must pay out of pocket. This fund assures that all families have the best shot available for a cure for their child. Many thanks to the world master of Sephardic song Gerard Edery, Malgorzata Panko, Renowned Polish Mezzo-Soprano, and Claudio Betan, Argentine Basso/Guitarist for the beautiful music

Professor Kapelushnik with Bob & Ellen Benson
AFSMC President Ken Abramowitz
Diane Stern, Vida Lebwohl, William Stern
Penny Kornstein, Janet & Warren Newcorn
Jamie Smith, Eva & Arthur Bodek,
Debbie Smith
Judy Aqua, Maggie and Bryan Kagan,
Lynn and Eli Moore
Record Number of Births at Soroka
Some of the proud new moms
and their infants born on
November 13, 2013 at Soroka
November 13, 2013 will be remembered as one of the busiest days at the Saban Maternity Center with 56 births in a single day. The Soroka birthing center averages 40 births daily and is the front runner in Israel in births per year. It recorded more than 15,000 births in 2012 and is keeping its lead in 2013 too, boosted on this recent day, when medical staff and midwives in the delivery room at Soroka were even busier than usual, welcoming 56 newborns to the world. Dr. Doron Dukler, Director of the Delivery Rooms at Soroka Medical Center states “Since the opening of the Saban Maternity Center at Soroka we are witness to a steady rise in the number of births at the hospital. Each year a new record is set.
Parlor Meeting
Dr. Asher Moser and Patient

On December 11, 2013 Dr. Moser, a senior member of Soroka’s Pediatric Oncology group, joined American Friends for a Parlor Meeting in the Scarsdale home Adeena and David Rosen. He discussed the challenges and ethical dilemmas of providing cancer care to the profoundly diverse and often economically challenged residents of the Negev. He shared many inspirational stories of his unique patients. Pictured above is a 17 year old girl who arrived to Israel for a pre-aliyah program. Several months into the program she was diagnosed with an acute lymphoma. Soroka provided complete support and care for her. After several weeks of treatment without family support or visits, her mother was able to get a visa to visit her.

Tikun Olam: Soroka in Philippines

A ray of light — Israeli doctors restore eyesight of blind Philippine residents.

The Israeli medical delegation deployed to the Philippines to help in the aftermath of their catastrophic typhoon chalked up some wonderful successes as it tended to patients with an affliction referred to as “Surfer’s eye”, or Pterygium, a growth-induced blindness. Lt. Col. Dr. Erez Tsumi, a Soroka ophthalmologist and member of the delegation explains: “Many locals had this disease before the typhoon hit the islands, but those who are poor couldn’t afford surgery”.

According to Dr. Tsumi, who has been performing the surgeries in the Israel Defense Forces field hospital set up as a humanitarian effort, the delegation realized they did not have suitable equipment for operating on pterygium, but Reuven Gulfund, a staff nurse with the delegation, from the Orthopedic Department at Hadassah Hospital, managed to find a solution. Gulfund relates: “I found medical tools and redesigned them to make them more microscopic, gentler and sharper. Then we started operating”.

Dr. Tsumi explained the procedure: “The growth is peeled off and in order to prevent its return, a clean conjunctiva is transplanted. The suture threads were brought in from Israel, but the rest of the tools are the result of nurse Gulfund’s improvisational skills”. He added: “The patients who all of a sudden could see after the operation were so excited - it’s a miracle happening before your very eyes”. “The local nurse who also served as interpreter was thrilled and was jumping with joy along with the patients when the surgeries ended and they confirmed they could see his fingers,” Gulfund noted and added: “You feel like you’ve given people their lives back. It feels amazing. They all thanked us profusely”.

Celebrating Chanukah at Soroka
Yehuda Farsi and Shimon Elankri
lighting the seventh candle of Chanuka
together with the Director of Soroka
Medical Center, Dr. Ehud Davidson,
Deputy Director of Soroka
Medical Center, Mr. Moshe Sadeh,
and Beersheva City Rabbi Yehuda Deri

IDF Soldiers wounded in Gaza just before “Operation Pillar of Defense” lit the seventh candle of Chanukah at Soroka and met with army buddies and the medical staff that treated them.

Shimon Elankri and Yehuda Farsi were evacuated to Soroka Medical Center in critical condition after being injured in the Gaza Strip a year ago, just prior to Operation Pillar of Defense. The physicians at Soroka struggled to save them and succeeded! Yehuda, who had been seriously wounded, unfortunately lost his eyesight, despite all the efforts. Shimon, who also had been injured in his eyes, has regained partial vision. At the very moving candle-lighting ceremony held at Soroka, Shimon and Yehuda met with the medical teams that had treated them at the hospital. Members of their army units surprised them by showing up at the ceremony too.

American Friends of Soroka Medical Center
PO Box 184-H | Scarsdale, NY 10583 | (914) 7259070
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Conquering Cancer at Soroka 6th Annual Gala

Conquering Cancer at Soroka 6th Annual Gala

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Soroka with Larry King

Aaron Wienstein, Performing at June 2012 Benefit

Aaron Wienstein, Performing at June 2012 Benefit

Welcome from Executive Director Rachel Heisler Sheinfeld

Welcome from Executive Director Rachel Heisler Sheinfeld

Israeli Public Affairs Counsel - Gil Lainer

Israeli Public Affairs Counsel — Gil Lainer

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Welcome to Soroka Medical Center

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Soroka at War 2009

Mandy Patinkin at Soroka 2013 Gala Benefit Dinner

Mandy Patinkin at Soroka 2013 Gala Benefit Dinner


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In the United States:
American Friends of
Soroka Medical Center
Rachel Heisler Sheinfeld
PO Box 184-H
Scarsdale, NY 10583
Telephone: 914725-9070
Fax– 914725-9073
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