Rosh HaShana Greetings & Kol Nidre Appeal
Happy New Year
from American Friends of Soroka Medical Center
"Tishri Breastplate" by Mark Podwal

Dear Friends

It is our pleasure to wish our dear friends and supporters a happy and healthy New Year, and a wonderful year ahead filled with accomplishment, fulfillment, enjoyed in peace and good health. Allow us to take this opportunity to express our thanks for your support throughout the year: we so appreciate the spirit of caring and partnership with which you embrace our unique healthcare institution.

We hope you enjoy the beautiful artwork created by artist Mark Podwal, depicting the awe and majesty of this season.

The high holy days, when one prays for good health and fulfillment for the year ahead, are a time when Jews around the world traditionally contribute to charity. We humbly appeal to our friends to consider making a gift to Soroka. How life affirming it is to donate to the busiest hospital in Israel, with the most diverse population. Your gift makes a real difference in the health of the residents of the south of Israel. All funds collected during this period, unless earmarked for another purpose, will go towards the purchase of equipment for our new Rehabilitation Hospital.

We also pray for peace. Our mission to "Defend Israel’s Health" is always a priority for Soroka’s directors. We provide the excellent medical care our constituents depend on us for, while also focused on the safety of our staff and patients. Last week the entire campus participated in a nationwide emergency drill, to be sure that all are prepared in the event of a missile attack. Watching the staff participate in this drill, we were reminded of how essential it is for Soroka to complete its infrastructure projects to expand the trauma center and build a new, protected NICU. With your help, Soroka will be prepared.

With our warmest wishes for a Happy & Healthy & Sweet New Year!
Ken Abramowitz Rachel Heisler Sheinfeld
President Executive Director
Upcoming Events
2017 Gala - April 26, Pierre Hotel, NYC
Mission to Israel - July 2017
Changes Urged for BRCA Testing

On July 30, Soroka hosted a symposium for leading cancer researchers, led by Dr. Larry Norton, the head of the Evelyn H. Lauder Breast Center at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York. Participants included Dr. Ehud Davidson, Soroka’s Director General, and Dr. David Geffen, chief of breast oncology services.

The consensus was that family history is not an adequate predictor of cancer risk. The team of doctors stopped short of making a formal recommendation, yet they strongly urged all Ashkenazi Jews, regardless of family history, be tested.

Over the past few years, dozens of breast cancer researchers in separate labs all came to the conclusion that doctors are using the wrong criteria to decide who should be tested for the cancer-causing BRCA genes. Now they aligned to convince medical professionals, insurance companies and the rest of the healthcare field to change the rules on who is, and isn’t, eligible for genetic testing. Currently, only people who have a family history of cancer are approved for testing for mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, which are much more prevalent among Ashkenazi Jews than other populations that have been studied — 1 in 40 Ashkenazi Jews carry the mutation compared to 1 in 400 in the general population.

Dr. Larry Norton heads the Evelyn H. Lauder Breast Center at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York

"A lot of people don’t have a family history suggestive of breast cancer and ovarian cancer but they really do carry the abnormal genes and they are at risk, and they don’t know it," sad Norton, "If you only test the people with family history, you’re going to miss half the cases."

Women who have a BRCA mutation have as much as an 85 percent chance of developing breast or ovarian cancer during their lifetimes — more than 10 times the rate of the general population. Male carriers have a much greater risk as well: Men carrying the BRCA2 mutation have breast cancer rates estimated to be as much as 80 times higher than in the general population; for prostate cancer the rate is estimated to be between 2 and 5 times higher.

Norton added that even though predisposition to breast and ovarian cancer is genetic, there are several reasons why the disease might not show up in someone’s family. "For a lot of reasons, family history is not a very good predictor of who may be carrying one of those [mutated] genes" - yet for decades, family history has been the main factor used for determining cancer risk and what this coalition of researchers proposed — to make genetic testing available to all Ashkenazi Jews, or even to all people.

Because 1 in 40 Ashkenazi Jews have BRCA mutations, Norton and his peers feel it’s a no-brainer that they all should be tested. This is especially true because tests that only look for the three most prevalent mutations — which make up 90 percent of the BRCA mutations found among Ashkenazi Jews — is relatively cheap: "tens of dollars" compared to hundreds or, often, thousands of dollars for full genome sequencing, according to Norton.

Norton states that genetic testing needs to be expanded beyond Ashkenazi Jews. "We know about the common mutations among Ashkenazi Jews, because they have actively cooperated with cancer researchers and have been ‘very extensively studied,’" Norton said. But most populations have a prevalence of certain disease-causing mutations (called "founder mutations). It’s just that, for most groups, the mutations haven’t been identified yet. Expanding testing to all Ashkenazi Jews is a start, he said.

"We think this is a step in the direction for testing everybody," Norton said. "It isn’t that this is a Jewish problem, because you find founder mutations all over the world." And what about the 10 percent of Ashkenazi Jews who have non-BRCA mutations? Should they remain in the dark? "It very well might be that we need to test for all mutations, not just founder mutations," he said. "For a lot of people, 90 percent isn’t good enough."

Testing for all possible mutations would be an enormous financial and logistical challenge - but in the future, it may become the norm, because, whatever the cost, it’s ultimately less costly to prevent a disease than to treat it.

"The technology is constantly improving," Norton said. "Yes, it should be less expensive, but when you look at the lives saved by knowing that somebody has a predisposition to cancer, it is something that really should be covered by insurance. "We’re talking about saving lives: if you find out you have a mutation and you’re predisposed to cancer, doing something before you get cancer is the best thing you can do" he said. The group hopes that enough research and good information will convince health care decision makers to expand testing, and coverage, for more categories of people.

This was the second international symposium organized by Soroka Medical Center. Soroka’s new Comprehensive Cancer Center, the first for the Negev, is scheduled to be completed in 2017.

June Gala in New York City
Dan Abrams

Our annual gala benefit dinner, this year named the Blue & White Night , was held on June 15, 2016 at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel. The event was dedicated to fundraising to complete the construction of a new facility to house Soroka’s Rehabilitation Medicine Department. Soroka’s new rehabilitation center will serve the more than 1 million people living in the geography, representing the fastest growing region in Israel. This facility will contribute greatly to alleviating the suffering of patients and their families who would otherwise have to travel to Tel Aviv for rehabilitation treatment services. Attended by 300 guests, it was our most successful fundraising event to date.

Dr. Iuly Treger

Dan Abrams, chief legal affairs anchor for ABC News, welcomed guests as master of ceremonies for the event held at The Mandarin Oriental in New York City. The evening featured several inspiring speakers. Dr. Iuly Treger, chief of the Department of Rehabilitation at Soroka Medical Center informed guests on the importance of having family members present throughout the rehabilitation process. He shared a touching video

Gadi Yarkoni

showing patients from all walks of life during various stages of recovery. Mayor Gadi Yarkoni shared his touching story of tragedy and triumph. During Operation Protective Edge last year, Yarkoni was attempting to repair power lines with two of his friends, Ze’evik and Shahar. A heavy barrage of mortar fire landed near them just moments before the ceasefire was reached. During the attack Yarkoni lost both of his friends and both of his legs. He explained the challenges of having to relocate to Tel Aviv during his recovery and how hard it was on his family. Following his rehabilitation, Yarkoni went on to win an election

Cantor Israel Singer, Mindy Gale Zeigerman, Amb. Ido Aharoni, Marc Bennett, Rachel Heisler Sheinfeld

earning his title as Mayor of the Eshkol Council. His love and pride for Israel was apparent to all in the room that night.

Two Israelis were honored with awards recognizing their tireless efforts in support of their land.

Ambassador Ido Aharoni received the Statesman for Israel Award in recognition of his inspirational advocacy for Israel and his support for its institutions during his term as Counsel General for Israel in New York. Professor Zehavi Cohen received Soroka’s Distinguished Service Award. Prof.

Dr. Zehavi Cohen & Rachel Heisler Sheinfeld

Cohen served as the Director of Pediatric Surgery at Soroka from 2000 to 2014. The Soroka Pediatric Surgery Department is renowned for handling complex cases referred by all the hospitals in southern Israel treating infants and youth in a variety of surgical specialties including oncology.

Rabbi David Greenberg, spiritual leader of Temple Shaaray Tefila of Bedford, NY, made a special presentation of a check to Soroka – representing the culmination of a community-

Rabbi David Greenberg

wide fundraising drive to raise the funds to dedicate a special new Incubator to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. The Israel Action Committee, the Men’s club, the Hebrew school and Bnei-Mitzvah groups have all held fundraisers to contribute to this projects for Soroka’s NICU.

A highlight of the evening featured the presentation of a special work of art created by artist Mark Podwal to Ambassador Ido Aharoni. The spectacular Jerusalem Rose was inscribed with a special message of thanks to Ambassador Aharoni, who has supported and encouraged all of the activities of American Friends of Soroka with his trademark collaboration and charm.

Right to left - Farzad Pakravan, Faramarz Kimiabakhah, Dr. Parviz Lalehzari,
Shawn Pakravan
Cantor Israel Singer

Sitting: Ronit Elihou, Simone Kahen,
Linda Benhuri | Standing - Shahram Nassi, Sakhaie, Faramarz Kimiabakhsh, Bijan Elihou, Hengameh Kimiabakhsh,
Dr. Massoud Benhour

Victor Novack, Gerry Shawstack, Jack Lahav, Iuly Treger, Ehud Davidson
Ken Abramowitz

Tal Brody with Eyal Shachi

Dan Abrams with Judith & Eyal Shachi Professor & Mrs. Zahavi Cohen and family
Thane Rosenbaum & Melanie Franklin Lee

Caroline Freidfertig, Jonathan Franklin, Ehud & Tami Davidson

Mark Podwal is renowned for his innovative ink drawings and paintings of the Jewish experience. Initially known for his drawings on The New York Times Op-Ed page, he is the illustrator of numerous books in collaboration with the likes of luminaries such as

Amb. Ido Aharoni & Miri Ben-Ari

Elie Wiesel, Harold Bloom, and Francine Prose. In pen and ink, gouache and watercolor this prolific artist universalizes the meaning of Jewish history, tradition and Biblical imagery. A sense of hope, joy, and the miraculous infuses each of Podwal’s often humorous and always clever images. Reimagined: 45 Years of Jewish Art, a collection of 350 of the artist’s drawings and paintings, as well his textile designs from the world’s most historic synagogues, will be published by Glitterati, Inc. in September 2016.

Rabbi David Greenberg

Special Guest Tal Brody took to the stage to introduce Miri Ben-Ari. Tal serves as Israel’s Good Will Ambassador and also added a unique warmth and excitement to the evening by declaring that, as evidenced by the enthusiastic crowd, Soroka is now “On the Map”.

The night ended with stunning visuals and inspiring sounds from Grammy Award-winning violinist, Miri Ben-Ari. She opened with an electronic song titled Intense, a collaboration she did with Armin Van Buuren that is very popular in Israel. She also played a number of her most popular ballads including Symphony of Brotherhood, which features excerpts from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s I Have a Dream speech, to highlight the spectacular accomplishments people can make when they come together in brotherhood.

We thank the extraordinary committee who planned an executed this highly effective evening. Led by dinner chairs Caroline Friedfertig and Ruth Steinberg, the committee worked tirelessly to procure attractive auction gifts and create a magical ambience.

Gwen & Owen Caplan, Twins
Gwen & Owen Caplan

Gwen & Owen Caplan, twins from Teaneck, NJ, recently celebrated their Bar & Bat Mitzvahs, and undertook a joint mitzvah project to benefit the Neo-Natal Intensive Care Unit at Soroka. They raised money towards the $20,000 purchase price of an incubator for pre-mature babies, donating 10% of their Bnei Mitvah gifts. During the family’s recent trip to Israel, they visited Soroka, had a special meeting with Dr. Aggie Golan, Head of Soroka’s Neonatal Department, and observed first-hand the amazing work of the NICU, and the medical excellence and profound diversity at Soroka. The Soroka facts that moved them the most:

Soroka delivers over 15,000 babies annually and has the lowest infant mortality rate in Israel
Soroka doctors visit developing countries, sharing their knowledge and experience
Special funds

The following special funds have been established at Soroka this year. Donations can be earmarked for any of these funds, and please contact us to establish your own.

Gwen and Owen Caplan Bnei-Mitzvah NICU Fund
Prof. Abraham Geffen MD Memorial Fund for the Department of Imaging
Dr. Donald Heisler DDS Memorial Fund for the Brain Institute
Dafna Meir Memorial Fund for the Trauma Center Expansion Project
Shaaray Tefila of Bedford NICU Fund

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