April 2020
Spring Greetings & Passover Appeal
Dear Friends,

In the face of the global Coronavirus pandemic we are counting our blessings, so thankful for good health and the privilege and opportunity to partner with Israel’s most strategic healthcare institution in confronting this massive global health crisis.

We invite you to help save a life in Israel NOW and help Soroka Medical Center provide tomorrow's healthcare today. The citizens of Israel, especially the underserved families of the NEGEV, thank you. Please Donate Now to our appeal for urgent COVID-19 RESPONSE equipment.

Please read below for up-to-the-minute details on Soroka's response to COVID-19, fulfilling our mission of Defending Israel's Health. We are also proud to bring you an update on our exciting History of the Star of David @ Soroka, which is slated for completion as soon as conditions allow.

Soroka has coordinated its preparations for COVID-19 with a rapid, vigorous rollout of infrastructure and staff, assuring the Negev that we are prepared, as always, for any eventuality. We are so thankful for all our supporters for their contributions, encouragement and passion for helping Soroka. We rejoice in the diversity of our supporters, unified by the common goal to strengthen and support one of Israel’s most vital institutions.

This year our holiday observances will certainly be different on many levels. On behalf of the Board of Directors of American Friends of Soroka Medical Center, we extend our warm and sincere wishes for a happy and healthy holiday with the blessings of good health and personal fulfillment. As you allocate funds for Maot Hittim and your charitable giving for the remainder of the year, we hope you will be inspired by the remarkable work being done at Soroka. We pray, as always, for peace and for the complete recovery of all affected by the Coronavirus.
Jay E. Selman, MS, MD
Rachel Heisler Sheinfeld
Executive Director
And the American Friends of Soroka Medical Center Board of Directors

Conquering COVID-19 at Soroka
As the only Major Medical Center in the Negev, Soroka Medical center bears a tremendous responsibility to meet the population’s healthcare needs. Working tirelessly to fight the virus, we are preparing for dire scenarios in a rapidly evolving situation, and working to increase hospitalization capacity for CoronaVirus patients, our war on the CoronaVirus is ongoing and intensified every day.

We are now facing a very real need to acquire life-saving supplies and testing equipment.
Please donate generously. Equipment needed includes:
  • 1 Extra Corporeal Membrane Oxygenation device @ $50,000
  • 2 Video Laryngoscopes for safe intubation @ $11,000
  • 10 Blood pressure monitors with Pulse Oximeter to monitor pulse and oxygen levels @ $2,000
  • Personal Protective Equipment -$3,000 per staff member per month.

    Your donation of any amount is appreciated and will be immediately deployed.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, with an abundance of caution, we have decided to postpone our June 8 "Desert in Bloom" Gala. We will inform your as soon as the new date is confirmed. We also made the difficult decision to postpone our July mission to Israel. Our utmost concern is with the health and safety of our friends and family in America and Israel.

Award for Professor Ohad Birk
Prof. Ohad Birk, Director of the Soroka Genetics Institute, received the Rare Disease Coalition Award in Israel for 2020, in recognition for having identified 12 serious hereditary diseases and 40 rare diseases.

Prof. Birk received the award at the recent annual Rare Disease Conference of the Association for the Rights of the Sick. Awarded for excellence in research and special distinction in treating patients with rare diseases and their family members, the winner was selected by an elite committee chaired by the Israel Prize laureate.
Prof. Birk has devoted the last 20 years to treating thousands of patients with rare diseases in the south of the country and their families. Prof. Birk and his team have discovered some 40 new rare hereditary diseases, three of which are named after him as well as dozens of diseases afflicting the Bedouin population. Prof. Birk exhibits truly unique dedication to patients, to the extent of visiting the homes of many of them to counsel and care for families, and establishing groundbreaking relationships within the Bedouin communities.

Prof. Birk said, "I deeply appreciate the recognition we received from the Rare Disease Association. Thanks to the integration of the Soroka Institute of Genetics staff with our activities in the community and the Morris Kahn Research Laboratory at Ben-Gurion University, we have established a comprehensive analytical framework that helps families suffering from rare diseases through scientific and genetic research, diagnosis, prevention and treatment. We have found and analyzed the mechanism of dozens of new diseases that were previously unknown in the world, including serious genetic diseases common in the Bedouin sector, two of the most common hereditary diseases in Morocco and Iraq, and diseases affecting Indian and Ethiopian Jewry.”

Birk’s contribution in the diagnosis and prevention of dozens of hereditary diseases afflicting Jews and Arabs in Israel and around the world has had a profoundly positive impact on infant mortality and in improving the lives of thousands of families, and is a shining example of Soroka Medical Center’s extraordinary achievement. We are so proud of Professor Birk for his tireless care for the children and families of the Negev, his contributions to peaceful coexistence, and his being a role model for an outstanding physician.

Fashion & Philanthropy Miami Style
A warm thank you to our South Miami Friends who came out and made this fashionable luncheon a great success! Curated by Israeli Brand Ambassador Kim Heyman, top Israeli designer Elisha Abargel presented his gorgeous and sophisticated designs to an audience of supporters in Coral Gables. Guests enjoyed a gourmet luncheon at The Gables Club and mingled with surprise guest Ambassador Ishmael Khaldi, the new acting Consul General of Israel to Miami.
Helene Lindenfeld, Minnie Bandel, Eva Buzoglu, Gisela Lowenstein, Yael Muller, Lili Kamely, Roselyne Freeman
Mexican Talavera Mezuzot by DevoraMichael.com
Beverly Friedman, Aida Politano and Joyce Cohen
Elisha Abargel
Jennifer Naim and Evelyn Marcushamer
Guest, Deborah Cherki, Ariel Roman-Harris, Director of Cultural Affairs, Consulate General of Israel in Miami, Pazit Levitan, Acting Consul General Ishmael Khaldi, Rachel Heisler Sheinfeld, Martin Lindenfeld
The club was transformed into a holiday including the unique Mexican pottery Mezuzot of Deborah Koenigsberger Gutierrez. Thank you to Deborah Cherki, Julie Franklin, Roselyne Freeman, Helene Lindenfeld and Ana Karina Politano for their leadership in championing this event.

El Al Partnership/ The Star of David Takes Flight
EL AL and the American Friends of Soroka Medical Center announce a cultural project to support The History of the Star of David Artwork. As the national airline of Israel, EL AL takes its responsibility as a cultural ambassador very seriously. Since 1948, with EL AL’s maiden flight from Geneva, Switzerland to Tel Aviv, the carrier’s fleet has proudly displayed the flag of the State of Israel on its aircraft’s tail. In this spirit, EL AL announces a partnership with the American Friends of Soroka Medical Center to bring The History of the Star of David artwork to Israel. Through this partnership EL AL will expand visibility for Soroka’s philanthropic art project by sharing its inspirational message with more than 600,000 of EL AL’s best customers.
“We are proud to partner with Soroka Medical Center on such a culturally momentous project,” said Yoram Elgrabli, managing director North and Central America EL AL. “It is also our pleasure to share this unique work of art with the Jewish community worldwide.”
Artist and filmmaker Marc Bennett’s artwork serves as a time capsule that invites us to discover the centuries-long evolution of Judaism’s iconic symbol. The American Friends of Soroka Medical Center commissioned Bennett to create a monumental installation of this artwork, which will be the largest of its kind, standing 16 feet tall and spanning 24 feet wide. This permanent installation will become the focal point for the Healing Garden adjacent to Soroka’s Legacy Heritage Oncology Center and the Dr. Larry Norton Institute, set to be installed at the Soroka campus in Be’er Sheva. customers.
“This is a significant opportunity for Soroka Medical Center that will support our life-saving mission.” States Dr. Shlomi Codish, Director General for Soroka Medical Center. “The artwork’s intrinsic optimism for the future reflects Soroka’s current strategic role for the State of Israel, enabling the transformative development of the Negev region.”

EL AL will transport The History of the Star of David artwork from Los Angeles to Tel Aviv, traversing 7,537 miles across the globe. Ten percent of all worldwide art and related merchandise sales will be donated in perpetuity to Soroka Medical Center, Israel’s most strategic medical center. Additionally, the airline will work with the artist and Soroka to cross-promote this philanthropic art project by sharing the educational and charitable messages tied to Bennett’s cultural art piece.

We invite you to visit and explore opportunities to purchase artwork at www.soroka.org/soda

Passover Panel from The History of the Star of David Artwork
Detail of a porcelain Passover plate, made by Joseph Wetter, Vienna (1900). The design has six heart-shaped spaces for the symbolic foods of the seder meal and a Star of David in the center. Each of the six items arranged on the plate illuminates the retelling of the story of the exodus from Egypt. Judaism has a long tradition of commissioning Jewish ceremonial art and ritual objects from talented craftsmen and artists. It is believed to enhance a mitzvah by performing these rituals with a beautiful object.

Soroka Medical Center Responds to Coronavirus
In coordination with the Ministry of Health, Soroka opened a Special Treatment Complex for Corona Virus patients. This dedicated compound for Coronanirus provides in-patient care for up to 54 patients who need to be hospitalized while protecting the general population and staff. This facility is operated in accordance with government procedures and guidelines, which are updated daily as the situation evolves. Soroka is intensely preparing for the anicipated "wave" ahead.
Soroka Medical Center began preparing in February to deal with the outbreak, designating a dedicated team of experts who have implemented best-practices and highly innovative procedures for the intake, isolation, medical care and special logistics procedures required for cases of patients with suspected infection with Corona. The hospital is actively carrying out hundreds of laboratory tests daily to identify the virus, as our Virology lab is one of four licensed laboratories for this test in Israel.

The dedicated complex is itself “isolated”, situated apart from the other hospital buildings, protecting regular hospital operations from disruption. The complex is carefully designed with emphasis on reducing the risk of exposure to the virus. The compound has one virus-positive ward, with two rooms that can provide care for respiratory patients if needed. In a second ward, patients suspected of having the virus will be admitted before receiving a laboratory response. There is complete separation between the two units. We are currently completing the preparation of of teo additional areas: one with 93 beds for COVID-19 patients who do not require ventilation, and another for 33 patients requiring ventilation.

A CCTV is installed for communication with patients, monitoring and control. Innovative Tele-medicine technologies will be utilized through sensors that monitor the patient continuously and through the telehealth Tyto device, which allows remote and diagnostic testing and heat measurement, and transmits data to the care team.

This week, Soroka opened three tents adjacent to the Coronavirus unit, to accommodate expanded testing and triage, as the hospital braces for the predicted wave of new patients. We have developed contingency plans to allocate 700 addional beds (nearly 60% of our total capacity) to COVID-19 patients.

The complex has a dedicated team led by Dr. Leonid Barsky, Director of Internal Medicine Division 6 at Soroka, together with Senior Physician Dr. Eli Rosenberg and medical, nursing and social workers who have been trained to use protective measures. The teams underwent special simulations at "Simulna", a unique mobile training facility of Clalit Health Services stationed at Soroka, enabling them to practice therapeutic skills with innovative and sophisticated technology that simulates a hospital environment. The teams simulate unconventional situations, including self-protective methods of performing life-saving operations such as insertion of a transfusion, probe and catheter, while being protected in protective clothing.

Dr. Shlomi Codish, Director of Soroka Medical Center, stated "This is a complex logistical preparation that involves hundreds of dedicated Soroka staff from all sectors enlisted in the mission. Establishing a dedicated compound for the absorption of Corona patients provides a response to the population suspected of having and ill with the virus and plays a huge role in preventing the infection from spreading to the general population.”

Soroka is uniquely prepared for this strategic role in containing and treating the Corona Virus in Israel, given our status as the top hospital in Israel for infection control over the past two years, and the only hospital that has achieved and maintained the status of Joint Commission International accreditation for ten years.

It is though our partnership with friends and supporters like yourself that Soroka suceeds in meeting these challenges. With profound appreciation, we wish you a Happy, Healthy and Safe holiday.

Please visit us at soroka.org to keep abreast of Soroka’s COVID-19 response and to watch recordings of our Ask-the-Expert series, including advice on managing stress and relationships during the Corona Pandemic, and insights from our infectious disease experts.
American Friends of Soroka Medical Center
PO Box 184-H | Scarsdale, NY 10583 | (914) 725-9070