September 2018
Rosh HaShana Greetings & Kol Nidre Appeal

It is our honor to extend wishes to you for a Shanah Tova, a healthy and happy New Year, with our prayers for the blessings of peace, tolerance, and coexistence for all. In these “Days of Awe” we strive for inclusiveness and welcome all Friends of Soroka to deepen their connection to our essential and excellent Medical Center. Working together – to advance global health, eradicate cancer and assure that the underserved residents of the Negev have access to the finest medical care available – is a noble cause that provides great meaning for Friends of Soroka. We hope that your support for Soroka Medical Center elevates your sprit and brings you personal fulfillment and many blessings.

Summer 2018 was extremely momentous for AFSMC. This newsletter contains pictures and updates on our May 1st Gala in New York City, the AFSMC July Mission to Israel, and highlights from the July 31 opening ceremonies of the Legacy Heritage Oncology Center and The Dr. Larry Norton Institute. Read within to view photos from our debut event in Deal NJ, a fashion show with Maskit Couture House, and learn about the planting of our first Healing Arts garden with Artist Simone Kestelman “Flowers for Life.”

Please join our mission to Conquer Cancer at Soroka and provide the very best medical care for Israel’s South. Your gift of any amount will be greatly appreciated.

Ruth C. Steinberg
Rachel Heisler Sheinfeld
Executive Director

An Historic Moment
Dr. Larry Norton blessing the Mezuzah at the opening of the Legacy Heritage Oncology Center
Dr. Larry Norton attended the July 31 Opening Ceremony of Soroka's Legacy Heritage Oncology Center. His emotional remarks, excerpted below, reflect his hopes and aspiration for the success of the center.

“It was not just my love of Israel that brought me to this task – it’s that I want to rid the world of cancer. I have done everything in my life possible to achieve this, bringing every bit of energy and skill that God has given me to this task. Through my work in medical care, medical research, and administration at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in NY, as well as through wonderful organizations and networks throughout the world that I am involved with including ASCO, BCRF and the Cure Breast Cancer Foundation, my goal was to do everything in my power to achieve the eradication of Cancer from this earth.

My standing here tonight is the culmination of my entire life’s work. I feel deeply that this could be the place where we can really eradicate cancer.

Why? Israeli ingenuity. And because Soroka is a unique place in so many ways. It is an extraordinary institution surrounded by unique population demographics. The extraordinary staff is dedicated to the highest levels of patient care, for the Negev and all of Israel, and dedication to improving the care by making fundamental discoveries – extraordinary insights into biology, DNA, genetics, feeling of creativity and energy – all converging to make it happen.

Thank you for the extraordinary honor of my association with this institution. Together we will rid the world of Cancer.”
Mrs. Helen Nash unveils the naming of the Dr. Larry Norton Institute
Ribbon-cutting with Mayor of Be’er Sheva Ruvik Danilovich and Soroka leaders
Center leaders Dr. Itzhak Avital (left) and Prof. Nir Peled

Flowers For Life
Soroka Medical Center is proud to announce an exciting project that will literally “help the desert bloom” and support their new Legacy Heritage Oncology Center and Dr. Larry Norton Institute. American Friends of Soroka Medical Center is collaborating with renowned Brazilian / American Artist Simone Kestelman to create a spectacular garden of brightly colored ceramic flowers. This project advances the important role of the healing arts at Soroka. Individuals can purchase flowers and dedicate them in a special on-line tribute book and memorial book that is being established. Proceeds from the sale of the flower supports Cancer Research at Soroka.

On July 16 the artist installed the first flowers on Soroka’s campus, 70 red tulips in honor of Israel’s 70’th birthday. Underwritten by the Safra Bank of New York, these flowers will permanently grace the Healing Garden of the new Comprehensive Cancer Center where they will provide a stunning landscape for patients and their families.

The Artist Simone Kestelman reflects on this project: “How does life carry on through hardships? How can we thrive amid pain and fear? These tulips, blooming in the desert, are a testament to the power of hope, dedication and love. These flowers have grown under precarious conditions, but that has made them resilient and strong. They are beautiful in and of themselves, but what makes them tough makes them even more beautiful. Tulips are tough flowers that tend to last a long time.”

Artist Simone Kestelman planting the first 70 "Flowers for Life" in the Healing Garden of the new Comprehensive Cancer Center
Simone Kestelman is a sculptor and multi-media artist working primarily with glass, ceramics and photography. Coming from one of the largest developing nations – Brazil – she is very sensitive to social challenges faced by its people, especially the disabled, children and women. Brazil’s beauty, vibrant society and nature inspire her work.

For additional information please contact Pazit Levitan, Director of Development for American Friends of Soroka Medical Center, at or (914) 725-9070

Cancer Center Opening
Built at a cost of NIS 200 million, the new center will be a leader in research and development. It was funded by Clalit Health Services together with donors from Israel and abroad, including the Legacy Heritage Fund and the Nash Family Foundation. Many American donors have been inspired to assist in establishing the new institute, named in honor of Dr. Larry Norton, a world-renowned cancer researcher and breast cancer specialist. Norton remarked:

“It is an extraordinary honor and joy to be part of a community dedicated not just to world-class cancer care in the Negev and Israel, but committed to improving cancer medicine throughout the world by conducting important research,” said Norton, senior vice president at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York and Medical Director of its Lauder Breast Cancer Center. “This is a terrific building, a brilliant staff and an exciting opportunity to make profound progress. I am deeply grateful.”
Opening light show
The Legacy Heritage Oncology Center at Soroka Medical Center
The Legacy Heritage Oncology Center at Soroka Medical Center

Gala Recap
American Friends of Soroka Medical Center (AFSMC) hosted its sixth annual gala benefit dinner on May 1st, 2018 at the Pierre Hotel in New York City, with nearly 400 guests in attendance. The new Legacy Heritage Oncology Center and the Dr. Larry Norton Institute will be the first Comprehensive Cancer Center for the entire south of Israel. The new state-of-the-art facilities will be the most advanced cancer treatment facility in the Middle East and fulfill an urgent need to provide world-class cancer treatment to the 1.2 million people living in Israel’s Negev region, the most profoundly diverse region in Israel.

“Soroka is a growing force for innovation in cancer care, integrating breakthrough research and technology.” In his opening remarks Professor Itzhak Avital, head of the CCC at Soroka Medical Center, stated “Soroka’s relationship with Ben-Gurion University and its proximity to Israel’s cyber hub in Be’er Sheva, place it at the center of forward-thinking talent.” Dr. Shlomi Codish, the Director General of Soroka, highlighted the major growth and development that has taken place at Soroka in recent years, while scoring the highest in the country in quality measures.

Soroka Medical Center’s Legacy Heritage Oncology Center and the Dr. Larry Norton Institute will serve more than 18,000 cancer patients each year, including 750 children. That number is expected to increase significantly over the coming years given the higher rates of Cancer in the region and growing population. The Center will also house groundbreaking research laboratories dedicated to discovering better ways to prevent, diagnose, and treat cancer. The newly expanded center will encompass seven floors and thirteen clinics. This expansion will effectively double the space for cancer treatments, provide advanced research capabilities, as well as offer comfortable spaces and a healing garden for patients and their families.

Dr. Larry Norton was honored for his outstanding global leadership in the effort to conquer cancer. Dr. Norton’s tireless work has made a profound difference in the lives of countless patients and their families. The Dr. Larry Norton Institute at Soroka Medical Center is named in recognition of his enduring contributions and ongoing support. “The Comprehensive Cancer Center will provide world-class care to a thriving and expanding population,” says Dr. Larry Norton, honoree and supporter of AFSMC, “The CCC will also be the home of basic and clinical science that could improve Cancer Care throughout the world.”

“Our top priority is to help cancer patients live longer, better quality lives,” remarks Rachel Heisler Sheinfeld, Executive director, AFSMC, “We aim to employ the most advanced treatment technologies currently available, and foster cutting-edge research that will save lives globally. There are still many significant opportunities available for donors to support this important project, including acquisition of key equipment, completion of the Cancer Center, Research and Clinical Care.”

Other honorees included international bestselling Author, Nicole Krauss. Her latest book “Forest Dark” is a New York Times Notable Book of 2017 and named best book of 2017 by Esquire, Publishers Weekly, the Financial Times, the Guardian, Refinery29, and Popsugar. Krauss’ thought-provoking books draw important connections to philanthropy and spirituality.

Consul General to Israel in New York, Amb. Dani Dayan (right) with Cathy and Paul Shaffer, Rachel Heisler Sheinfeld and Rachel Norton
During a special tribute Soroka honored the late Rosalind Franklin (1920-1958), the pioneering scientist who took the famous “Photograph 51,” which lead to the discovery of DNA. Her work was the precursor to personalized medicine that has transformed Cancer Care. Franklin’s niece and namesake Rosalind accepted this special tribute award, along with her niece Caroline Freidfertig, the Secretary of the Board of Directors of American Friends of Soroka Medical Center.

Paul Shaffer, best known as David Letterman’s Bandleader on the CBS Late Show, provided the stellar entertainment, where his performance included a stunning rendition of the theme of “Exodus.” The evening concluded with Dr. Larry Norton taking the stage with his ukelele for an inspirational duet with Mr. Shaffer.
Board Member Dr. Jay Selman presents the Literary Arts Award to Author Nicole Krauss
Multi-talented Musician Paul Shaffer with Honoree Dr. Larry Norton
The Franklin sisters accept the Tribute Award, honoring the legacy of Rosalind Franklin
Board President Ruth Steinberg (left) with Executive Director Rachel Heisler Sheinfeld

Mission to Israel
Soroka leaders and friends joined together for a weeklong immersion in Israel, going behind the scenes to experience a unique perspective of the history, culture, innovation and brilliance that has given rise to Israel 21C. The group enjoyed world-class culinary experiences, extraordinary and relevant cultural experiences, private encounters including a briefing by MK Yehuda Glick at the Knesset, personal and scholarly insights from David Ben-Gurion biographer Prof. Michael Bar Zohar, and dinner with Israel’s cultural Ambassador Tal Brody. We learned about Israeli innovation, compassion, high-tech prowess and of course – immersion at Soroka Medical Center. Save the date for our third mission – May 31st - June 7th, 2019, and join us for the trip of a lifetime. Contact us at for more information and registration.
Soroka Mission visiting Soroka Medical Center
Soroka Mission exploring the Bedouin community in the Negev
Soroka Mission visiting Knesset Israel in Jerusalem
Soroka team salutes a photograph of Prof. Nir Peled awarding him for Science Innovation at the Knesset
Soroka Mission with Dr. Shlomi Codish, Director General of Soroka Medical Center (in center)
Soroka Mission visits the new Comprehensive Cancer Center with Dr. Itzhak Avital (in center)

Fashion & Philanthropy in Deal, NJ
A new Soroka Summer tradition has been established, with our spectacular summer event in Deal. Dr. Nelly Huppert opened her home to for a fashion event featuring the premier Israeli Couture House Maskit. Nearly 100 guests enjoyed lunch and cocktails, mingling with Maskit Lead Designer Sharon Tal, perusing the new collection, bidding on an impressive array of designer jewelry and accessories. Thank you to our interns Freida Sasson and Rahel Shamailova, and the wonderful committee led by Shifra Hannon and Board President.
From left: Event Planner Mariel Tawil with interns Rahel Shamailova and Frieda Sasson
From left: Committee Chair Shifra Hanon, Sandra Greenstein, Board President Ruth Steinberg, Executive Director Rachel Heisler Sheinfeld, Elise Lasry
From Left: Elise Lasry, Host Dr. Nelly Huppert, Board President Ruth Steinberg, Yvette Benarrosh
From left: Gisele Chera, Eleanor Steinberg, Sarah Saka, Marlenn Sabbagh, Francine Benun, Linda Sasson, Dina Huppert, Junie Sutton, Melanie Ades, Rachel Heisler Sheinfeld, Sharon Tal
Lead Designer Sharon Tal (right) with Soroka Friends demonstrating the latest collection of Maskit
Magnificent models showcasing the Maskit collection

Introducing Star of David greeting cards that are perfect to use now for sending Holiday Greetings
The cards feature the spectacular artwork of The History of the Star of David by artist Marc Bennett on the front, and are blank inside
Exclusive opportunity to obtain a package of these special-edition cards as a thank-you gift from Soroka. Your donation will benefit the Star of David at Soroka Art project, supporting Cancer Research at the new Legacy Heritage Oncology Center & Dr. Larry Norton Institute at Soroka.

The recommended donation for the cards is $180 for a pack of 20 blank cards and envelopes, $118 for a pack of 12.


You will receive your greeting cards in the mail within 1-2 business days. If you would prefer to send a check, or for naming opportunities ($10,000-$180,000) please contact us at

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