Spring Greetings & Passover Appeal
Dear Friends,

The tension and pain in Israel from the current surge in terrorist attacks is felt deeply at Soroka. The recent wave of violence has hit close to home, with the attack at the Be’er Sheva bus station, and most recently the murder of our nurse, Dafna Meir, may her memory be for a blessing. The outpouring of messages and condolences reverberated with shock and anguish, and led our volunteers, Judy Grant and Dr. Elon Granader to action. Read within of her initiative to honor Dafna’s memory, while helping assure Soroka’s preparedness for victims of trauma.

Looking ahead, we are thrilled to announce that American Friends of Soroka Medical Center will be honoring Ambassador Ido Aharoni at our annual gala in at Mandarin Oriental Hotel in NYC on June 15. Ambassador Aharoni will receive Soroka’s “Statesman of Israel” award in recognition of his creativity, innovation, intelligence and leadership, as a strong and respected force for collaboration, unity and advocacy for Israel. We are delighted to have this opportunity to give thanks to an individual who tirelessly advocates for Israel and wholeheartedly supports Soroka, one of its most important institutions. I warmly invite you to join the special tribute committee, and we sincerely hope you will attend the event and help us honor our dear friend! There will be a tribute journal produced for the event. The Gala is dedicated to creating a new Rehabilitation Hospital at Soroka, the first for the Negev region of Israel.

We are also delighted to share with you updates on the special events that we help through the past months. Soroka hosted over 18 events in 2015, ranging from parlor meetings, intimate briefings, your professionals gatherings and fundraisers. Please reach out to get involved – we welcome your ideas and energy toward advancing our life-saving mission, to support Soroka, the only major medical center for the entire south of Israel.

NYC Gala
Wednesday June 15, 2016
Ambassador Ido Aharoni
details to follow
please contact Rachel Heisler Sheinfeld to join the tribute committee RachelH@Soroka.org 914-725-9070
at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel
New Board Member

AFSMC is proud to announce that Faramarz Kimiabakhsh has joined out board of directors. Mr. Kimiabakhsh is a longstanding real estate developer whose projects have influenced New York City communities in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens since 1985. He is a graduate of Northeastern University, Boston, with a degree in Business Management. David was born in Teheran, Iran and after continuing his education in England, he made his home in United States. He lives with his wife and four children in Great Neck, Long Island, where their family is actively dedicated to strengthening values, traditions, and support for Jewish communities domestically and abroad.

Special Opportunity
Cruise the British Isles this August and a contribution will be made to Soroka by Israel Travel specialist Jane Kuttner. Departing from Southampton, UK. Jane@pisabrothers.com,
212-265-8420 x208
Wishing you a lovely spring and happy holiday! 
Ken Abramowitz Rachel Heisler Sheinfeld
President Executive Director
Mourning the loss of Dafna Meir, Neurosurgery Nurse
Ms. Dafna Meir z'l, Soroka Neurosurgery Nurse
11-year-old Noa Meir and her 10-year-old sister Ahava

Soroka Medical Center is heartbroken to announce the death of beloved colleague Dafna Meir, who was murdered by a terrorist in her home in Otniel on Jan. 17. She was a cherished and highly professional nurse, and was beloved by her peers and patients alike. Meir, 38, worked as a neurosurgery nurse at Soroka. We extend our condolences to her husband Natan and her four children. Two of her daughters are pictured below.

Under the leadership of Judy Grant and Dr. Elon Granader we have established a special fund at Soroka to raise money to name a treatment bay in the new Emergency room / Trauma center in memory of Dafna. Any donations received in her memory will be earmarked for this project, and names of donors provided to the family.

Great Neck Fundraiser

On January 19, Faramarz and Hengameh Kimiabakhsh hosted a magnificent reception in their home to introduce Soroka Medical Center to the Kingspoint community. 130 guests experienced an extremely moving program that conveyed the critical importance of Soroka to Israel, and had the opportunity to meet Soroka CEO Dr. Ehud Davidson and Dr. Nitza Neuman Heiman, Deputy Director of Soroka. Dr. Heiman shared her remarkable story, of how she personally encountered the severe hardship faced by citizens of the Negev due to the lack of in-patient rehabilitation in the region. When faced with a personal tragedy - the death of a son - she pledged to honor his memory by committing to advocate for and raise the funds necessary to change this equation. Due to her efforts, this month marked the first anniversary of the operation of a Rehabilitation Department at Soroka, and plans are being finalized for the construction of the new Rehabilitation Hospital at Soroka. Distinguished guests included Ambassador Ido Aharoni, Consul General of Israel in NY, and New York State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli. Francis Sedaghatpour also participated in the program, providing a unique perspective on the holistic nature of healing, and the importance of supporting Soroka. Guests enjoyed a beautiful dinner buffet and the warm and gracious hospitality of the Kimiabakhsh family. Though planned with short notice, this event was hugely successful, a tribute to the passion of the hosts for supporting Soroka, one of Israel’s most important institutions, and the talents of Sabine Poisson, who orchestrated and curated the evening.

Dr. Nitza Neuman Heiman, Faramarz Kimiabakhsh & Dr. Ehud Davidson Jake, Faramarz, Bryan & Ethan Kimiabakhsh with Amb. Aharoni Ambassador Aharoni, Dana Mosevics, Hengameh & Faramarz Kimiabakhsh Rachel Heisler Sheinfeld, Tom DiNapoli & Faramarz Kimibakhsh
Rachel Heisler Sheinfeld, Faramarz & Hengameh Kimiabakhsh, Tom DiNapoli & Pouya Khani Nushie and Emanuel Piroozian with Ambassador Ido Aharoni Ambassador Aharoni & Sabine Poisson Arthur Bodek & Ruth Steinberg
Ellie & Danny Kimia     Pouya Khani, Faramarz Kimiabakhsh, Rachel Heisler Sheinfeld, Amb. Ido Aharoni, Ronit Elihu & NYS Comptroller Tom DiNapoli
Miami Soirée
Elise Lasry & Carol Antman

On Jan. 23, Soroka’s Miami committee arranged a very special evening: guests enjoyed a debut production of Michel Houseman’s extraordinary original play “The Golem of Havana”, and enjoyed a lovely champagne reception and buffet dinner on the Lincoln Road patio, a welcome from the Honorable Carlos Gutierrez and presentations by Dr. Ehud Davidson and Dr. Nitza Neuman Heiman. Thanks to the committee, led by Roselyne Freeman, Karina Gutierrez, Helene Lindenfeld, Gabrielle Sheinfeld, and Rafael Yaniz for planning this spectacular evening. Photography credits to Benji Freeman.

Jose Rafael Yaniz, Alina Yaniz, Claudia de la Vega, Rudy Mayor & Rafael Yaniz Martin Lindenfeld & Michael Freeman Felice Nelson, Rachel Heisler Sheinfeld & Roselyne Freeman Sally Tenenbaum & Bev Lev
Minnie & Steven Bandel Marilyn & David Kane Sami and Beno Schecter
Bernard & Liliane Eckstein
Seno & Mini Brill
Ambassador Avital
Ambassador Colette Avital Visits with AFSMC Executive Director Rachel Heisler Sheinfeld

On December 17, AAFSMC hosted Colette Avital for a discussion of her her recent visit to Soroka and observations on our unique role in Israeli society. “ Soroka serves the 1-million plus residents of the Negev as the sole major medical center for the region. Many of the residents of the Negev arrived in Israel following the Holocaust and “Soroka does a stellar job of catering to the medical needs of this aging population”. Ambassador Avital participated in a dedication ceremony for Soroka’s new rehabilitation hospital, and noted that the new center is essential to the needs of the IDF Soldiers, the children and the elderly. She is particularly passionate about the need to incorporate hydrotherapy Pools in the new Rehabilitation Hospital building.

Intellectual Salon at the Israeli Consulate

On August 20, Dr. Gadi Shaked was the featured speaker at an Intellectual Salon at the residence of Ido Aharoni, the Consul General of Israel in NY. One of Israel’s most acclaimed “medical heroes” from Operation Protective Edge , he serves as the head of the Trauma Department at Soroka Medical Center. Guests received an insider’s view into the tremendous amount of preparation that is required to ready the hospital and its staff for a military operation, and heard riveting personal stories from the trauma unit.

Dr.Gadi Shaked Dr. Robert Winchell & Dr. Craig Blinderman Eliza De Sola Mendes & Eve Steiglitz
Pesticide Exposure Raises Parkinson’s Rates

A study conducted by a Soroka neurologist has found a high incidence of Parkinson’s disease among those living in Jewish agricultural communities near the Gaza border. According to the study, the percentage of Parkinson’s sufferers is 37% to 54% higher than average in the Negev. The researchers concluded that the reason for the high morbidity is exposure to pesticides, which are used in field cultivation. Parkinson’s is a gradual degenerative disease that affects the central nervous system, and is characterized by motor disturbances such as a slowing and decline in movement, muscle rigidity, involuntary tremors, problems of balance and more. The source of the illness is defective functioning in the parts of the brain responsible for motor control. There is no certainty about the causes, but the prevailing assumption is that they have both genetic and environmental components.

This is not the first time that a connection has been made between exposure to pesticides and a higher incidence of Parkinson’s. “Our study joins previous studies that reinforce the environmental connection to Parkinson’s, and we believe there’s a connection between agricultural pesticides and the disease,” says Dr. Yair Zlotnik. The study utilized the database of Parkinson’s patients in the area of the Gaza “envelope” who are insured by Clalit Health Services (which insures 70 percent of the Negev population), and included 3,792 patients, Jews and Bedouin. The information was examined relative to the proximity of the patients to cultivated fields in their area of residence. There were dramatic differences in the frequency of the disease – among Jews the percentage of Parkinson’s sufferers is 37 percent higher than the average in the Negev in places with few cultivated fields. In communities with many cultivated fields the morbidity is 54 percent higher than the regional average. In the Bedouin diaspora the frequency is 53 percent lower than the average in the Negev as a whole, and 71 percent lower than the average in the permanent communities that are not surrounded by cultivated fields.

American Friends of Soroka Medical Center
PO Box 184-H | Scarsdale, NY 10583 | (914) 725-9070
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