Rosh HaShana Greetings & Kol Nidre Appeal
Dear Friends,

As the Jewish New Year approaches, we are thankful for all the good fortune in our lives, and are appreciate all of the wonderful opportunities we enjoy. We are indeed privileged to have ample occasions to participate in “tikun olam” – helping to build a just, peaceful and responsible society, and how better to express this than by supporting Soroka Medical Center. Soroka as an institution is devoted to improving healthcare outcomes for the under-served, providing cutting-edge medical care to the 1-million residents of the lower half of Israel, and dedicating enormous resources to advancing new research to improve treatments, detection, prevention of disease and to benefit humanity world-wide.

The friends of Soroka who participated in our June mission to Israel were witness to the amazing developments of the Soroka Medical Center Campus. Just as the city of Be’er Sheva is rapidly transforming into a buzzing high-tech hub, and as the development towns that surround it are burgeoning into coveted bedroom communities, Soroka is fulfilling its promise to Israel to keep their citizens secure in their healthcare. Preeminent amongst these developments is the new Comprehensive Cancer Center. I am personally fortunate to have witnessed the advancement of this project, together with Soroka’s dedicated and laser-focused leadership team, from the time of the building’s groundbreaking to the creation of one of the very best cancer centers in the world. Soroka has hired the most talented and visionary leader for this center, Prof. Itzhak Avital, and we are eagerly awaiting the opening in 2018. There are ample important opportunities for you to participate in this project. Please contact us to learn more.

It is with great pride that we share with you a wonderful achievement: Soroka has received recognition from the Ministry of Health for its performance on 13 key patient-care metrics. This was realized through the unwavering dedication of each and every Soroka staff members. Please enjoy reading about this important development, as well as other medical advances from Soroka, within this letter. It is my pleasure to wish you a happy and healthy New Year. We give thanks to all of our dear supporters and friends, and look forward to a wonderful year ahead, of meaningful accomplishments, enjoyed in peace and good health.

With our warmest wishes for a Happy, Healthy & Sweet New Year!

Ken Abramowitz Rachel Heisler Sheinfeld
President Executive Director

“Two Pomegranates and An Apple” by Soroka friend, artist Mark Podwal. Available from the Jewish Museum shop as a New Year card.
Save the Date for Upcoming Events
Sep 24 - New Jersey - Kaplen JCC of the Palisades: Epilogue screening and VIP reception with Alon Ben Gurion, a collaboration with IAC Cinematec Info & tickets here

Oct 16 - Philadelphia - Lunch & Learn with Professor Ehud Davidson, Soroka CEO and Parlor meeting in Bala Cynwood Please contact Kim Amzallag at

Oct 18 - Toronto - Gala benefit

Oct 19 - Montreal - Social event

Oct 26 - New York City - Young professionals event at the Jewish Museum

Nov 8 - Great Neck - Epilogue Screening and VIP reception with Alon Ben Gurion

Dec 16 - Los Angeles - Hanukah Party

May 1 - New York City - Gala 2018 at the Pierre Hotel to benefit Soroka’s Comprehensive Cancer Center
Please donate generously to help Soroka flourish in the New Year! With our sincere thanks for your support, The American Friends of Soroka Medical Center Board of Directors.
Donate Now!

April 26 NYC Gala Draws record attendance
Thank you for our best gala to date!
We were delighted to have had the opportunity to honor extraordinary friends of Soroka: Sonia Gardner received the David Dubinsky Humanitarian Award, presented by her sister Ruth Steinberg and brother Marc Lasry. Shouly Maslavi and Abraham Maslavi received the Fashion Industry Leadership Award, presented by David Kimiabakhsh. We also paid tribute to the legendary labor leader David Dubinsky, who mobilized the International Ladies Garment Workers Union to fund the establishment of Soroka in 1959. Ms. Ryna Appleton Segal received the award on behalf of her grandfather. Her award was presented by mens fashion guru and FIT professor Nedo Berlucci. Our Gala, attended by 435, wove together the history of Soroka, with that of today’s leaders who are nurturing Soroka through a period of extraordinary growth and advancement, as we continue to facilitate the great Zionist dream to make the desert bloom.

Thanks to your generous support, we exceeded our goals, raising urgently needed funds to support Women’s Health Programs at Soroka Medical Center.

A special thank you to the huge efforts of our gracious gala chair, Angela Retelny, whose vision and style was instrumental in creating a magical night to remember. Co-chairs were Caroline Freidfertig, David Kimiabakhsh, and Ruth Steinberg, who helped us raise essential funds to support woman’s healthcare at Soroka Medical Center.

Media star Dan Abrams, devoted and charismatic friend of Soroka, returned as MC. An emotional highlight was rising star Danielle Goz, granddaughter of our Secretary Caroline Freidfertig, singing the Star-Spangled Banner, and Internationally acclaimed baritone David Serrero singing Hatikva. Please contact the office for further information, and to join the 2018 committee! Next year’s gala will be devoted to raising funds for the new Comprehensive Cancer Center.
Jovani Fashion Show!
Shouly & Orly Maslavi, Halle & Abraham Maslavi
Jovani Fashion Show!
Rachel Heisler Sheinfeld, Sonia Gardner, Ruth Steinberg
David Dubinsky with David Ben Gurion
Ryna Appleton Segal
Angela Retelny and Dina Kawer
David Serero and Danielle Goz
Hengameh & Faramarz Kimiabakhsh

Soroka is Declared as Leading Hospital in Israel
Soroka was confirmed as the leading hospital by Israeli Ministry of Health, based upon 13 national quality indicators for patient care.

At the annual Transparency in Healthcare Conference in June 2017, the Israeli Ministry of Health published the achievements of Israel’s general hospitals with respect to 13 national quality indicators. The results were based on Soroka’s outstanding response time to medical needs of the patients.
Performance of cardiac catheterization within 90 minutes: This relates to urgent therapeutic catheterization for myocardial infarction due to obstruction of a coronary artery. The literature shows that there is a direct connection between the quick opening of the artery and lower death rates. The 2016 national goal for this quality indicator was 85%. Soroka achieved an average of 93% success in the response time. Additionally, it was noted that Soroka Medical Center treats more heart attacks than any other medical center in Israel.
Median response time for acute stroke patients: This relates to the time of treatment for acute stroke patients, from the time they are admitted to the hospital (provided that they arrived within 3.5 hours from the start of symptoms) until they receive MRI/CT procedure. The 2016 national goal for this quality indicator was 38 minutes. Soroka’s median time between arrival to performance of the exam was 31 minutes.
Performance of hip fracture surgery: This relates to the percentage of patients who come to the hospital with hip fractures, and who have surgery within 48 hours of their arrival. Research shows that performance of this surgery within 48 hours is directly correlated with a decline in the rate of postoperative morbidity, complications and death. The 2016 goal for this quality indicator was 85%. Soroka’s average is 87%.
Prof. Ehud Davidson, Director of Soroka Medical Center commented that “quality care is at the heart of our day-to-day work. This incredible achievement by Soroka brings our excellence in the field to a new height, and it has turned Soroka’s leadership strategy into reality. I would like to emphasize that this achievement belongs to all of the hospital’s employees, and it is the result of their dedication, caring, professionalism and devotion to our patients.”

Fashion Collaboration in Michigan
Margo Wall and Judy Grant
The elegant Bloomfield Hills home of Eugene and Tamara Friedman was transformed into a high-fashion showcase on May 21 when Israel’s first couturier MASKIT joined forces with the Friedman’s in support of Soroka Medical Center. Chaired by Judy Grant, over fifty guests gathered to learn about Soroka and enjoy a stylish afternoon of friendship and philanthropy. AFSMC Executive Director Rachel Heisler Sheinfeld shared the history and profound impact of Soroka in Southern Israel. Soroka has an important link to the fashion industry, as the original funds to build the hospital in 1959 were raised by the legendary labor icon David Dubinsky from the members of the International Ladies Garment Workers Union.

Tamara Friedman
MASKIT Fashion House was represented by Sharon Tal, the designer for the label. MASKIT was founded in Israel in 1954 by the visionary, Ruth Dayan, widow of Israeli general and politician, Moshe Dayan. MASKIT’s designs were sold internationally in stores such as Bergdorf Goodman and Neiman Marcus. Sharon graduated from Israel’s Shenkar School of Design, worked in Paris at Lanvin, and Alexander McQueen. In 2014, Sharon returned to Israel to revive the MASKIT brand, infusing its rich heritage with modern fashion, while delivering exclusive couture designs.

Pazit Levitan named Director of Development
Pazit Levitan
We are happy to welcome Pazit Levitan as Director of Development. Pazit is a seasoned development professional, innovator and community builder. She has held senior positions with Israeli-American nonprofit organizations (e.g., Moatza NY, Israeli-American Council, Global JCC fellow and the 92nd Street Y) as well as Columbia University, where she is currently pursuing her doctorate. Pazit holds a BA in Journalism and Art History from Hebrew University, an MA in Communications from Bournemouth University and an MBA in Media Management from Metropolitan College of New York.

“I am delighted to join American Friends of Soroka Medical Center and the powerful group of leaders, movers and shakers who support Soroka around our shared values. This is more than a job for me --- it is a mission and a great responsibility. I look forward to meeting each and every one of you and together we will reach new heights in support of Soroka.”

Pazit can be reached at Please join me in welcoming Pazit to our team.

Genetics Team Breakthrough for Male Infertility
Male infertility has many causes and ejaculate that contains no sperm is a rare condition, and one that doctors can do little to treat. They often cannot even determine the cause of non-obstructive azoospermia, the complete absence of sperm cells in a man’s ejaculate, in the roughly 1 percent of men who suffer from the condition.

Soroka’s Genetics department, acclaimed for discovering the most rare genetic diseases, has identified a mutation in the gene called TDRD9 causing this form of infertility, which is believed to affect anywhere from five to twenty percent of infertile men.

The scientists, lead by paper co-author Eitan Lunenfeld, head of infertility and invert medicine at Soroka, found that five men from a Bedouin tribe in the Negev with the condition all had the same type of mutation in the TDRD9 gene. The mutation does not cause infertility in women, noted the researchers from Ben- Gurion University of the Negev and Soroka Medical center. A better understanding of why some men cannot produce sperm hasn’t yet led to a cure, but treatment may be possible in the future.
Prof. Itzhak Avital has been appointed as the director of the Soroka Comprehensive Cancer Center.
Prof. Itzhak Avital
Professor Avital is an outstanding and experienced oncologist who has been director of major cancer centers in the US. He was born in Be’er Sheva and came to the US for his education and training - attending NYU for both undergrad and medical school. He completed his residency at Cedar Sinai at the University of California, Los Angeles before returning to New York for a surgical oncology and hepatobiliary fellowship at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. Prof. Avital also holds a Master of Business Administration Degree from the George Washington University School of Business. Prof. Avital is a visionary who is striving for excellence. Supporters of the Soroka Comprehensive Cancer Center have the unique opportunity to make a real difference in the healthcare for the southern half of Israel - and also advance cancer care for all of Israel and beyond.
Early-Term Babies Are at Greater Risk for Diabetes
BEER-SHEVA, Israel...August 7, 2017 - Early term deliveries impact babies’ long-term health with increased risk of diabetes and obesity-related illnesses as well as a shortened life span, according to a new study by Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) researchers. “Early term” is defined as delivery between 37 and 39 weeks. Pregnancy is considered at full term when gestation has lasted between 37 and 42 weeks. Babies born between 39 and 41 weeks of gestation have better outcomes than those born either before or afterward.

In the study, published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, the researchers investigated hospitalizations of children up to age 18 to determine the impact that early-term versus full-term gestation had on pediatric health and hospitalizations. A population-based cohort analysis was conducted of 54,073 early-term deliveries and 171,000 full-term deliveries.

“We found that hospitalizations up to the age of 18 involving endocrine and metabolic morbidity were found to be more common in the early-term group as compared with the full-term group, especially at ages five and older,” says Prof. Eyal Sheiner, M.D., Ph.D., a vice dean of the BGU Faculty of Health Sciences (FOHS) and head of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Soroka University Medical Center. What’s more, “Obesity was significantly more frequent among the early term.”

The researchers also discovered that children older than five exhibited significantly higher rates of type I diabetes mellitus when born early term.

“Pregnancies ending at early term were more likely to be complicated by hypertensive disorders and maternal diabetes (both gestational and pre-gestational). Deliveries were more often cesarean, and mean birthweight was significantly smaller,” Dr. Sheiner says. “Babies delivered at early term were also more likely to be low birthweight -- less than 5.5 pounds (2.5 kilograms).”

These diseases may increase the likelihood of other associated maladies with a detrimental long-term impact on one’s health and well-being, increased lifetime healthcare expenditures and a shorter life span, the researchers conclude.

Exclusive First Mission to Israel
Our first-time mission to Israel was a resounding success. With participants experiencing a carefully curated and interwoven program designed to immerse them in and elevate their appreciation of the beauty, culture, history and future of Israel, it was a lifetime experience for all and we look forward to next years trip. Details to follow.
Mindy Gale, Edilia Gutierrez & Carlos Gutierrez Jr.
Visit to Knesset
Briefing with MK Michael Oren
American Friends of Soroka Medical Center
PO Box 184-H | Scarsdale, NY 10583 | (914) 725-9070