December 2021
With Best Wishes for the New Year
Dear Friends of Soroka,

These past two years have highlighted the paramount importance of the blessing of good health and our collective responsibility to help those in need to access world class medical care. Despite the incredible challenges, the American Friends of Soroka community is very proud of our role in supporting Israel’s leading medical center, allowing Soroka to continue to distinguish itself brilliantly.

While serving on the frontlines of the pandemic and maintaining the care of 1.2 million residents, Soroka continued to advance its cutting edge research. The Genetics Institute, which has decoded over 40 rare diseases, recently discovered the genetic mechanisms of ADHD, paving the way to transform the lives of the children afflicted with this disorder. We also hosted a very special Plastic Surgery mission, featuring Dr. Oren Lerman at Soroka.

To have an institution like Soroka Medical Center in the world – and in our lives – is truly meaningful and impactful to the lives of many. We are deeply honored to have special friends Dr. Jay Selman and Pedro Lichtinger, award recipients at our October Gala Evening. We were honored to have Dr. Albert Bourla, the CEO of Pfizer, as Honorary Gala Chair. Highlights of this special event are included within, as well as highlights from our summer events in Deal, NJ and East Hampton, NY.

Your gift to Soroka Medical Center will be immediately deployed to help Soroka Medical Center save lives in Israel’s Negev. As a special Thank You to our donors, with your donation of $500 or more you will receive entry into our amazing Diamond Ring Raffle (see below). Your partnership is so appreciated.

On behalf of the board of directors, we extend our best wishes to you for a happy, healthy and safe holiday season and New Year!
Caroline Franklin Freidfertig
President of the Board
Rachel Heisler Sheinfeld
Executive Director

Soroka NYC Gala!
On October 18, 2021, American Friends of Soroka Medical Center celebrated Tomorrow’s Health Today, its ninth annual gala event, at Cipriani 25 Broadway in New York City. 250 guests attended the auspicious event, with hundreds more participating via livestream. It was a magical night spotlighting Israel’s Soroka Medical Center leadership in medical and scientific research fostering innovation in the service of saving lives, while supporting a new innovation center in the Negev. Board President Caroline Friedfertig, describes how crucial the connection with American Friends and Israel is to help save lives, as she says “AFSMC plays a vital role in connecting our American community with this major medical center--it is thrilling to see the difference we have made over the years in supporting the hospital and its exciting new projects.” Thanks to the combined efforts of Friends around the world, Soroka Medical Center is one of Israel’s leading institutions in the fastest growing and most diverse region advancing global health.
(L to R) Dr. Amit Frenkel, Pedro Lichtinger, Dr. Albert Bourla, Caroline Freidfertig, Rachel Heisler
Dr. Amit Frenkel, Caroline Freidfertig, Dr. Jay Selman, Susie Stern, Rachel Heisler
Pedro Lichtinger &
Dr. Albert Bourla
Dr. Jay E. Selman, recipient of the Inspired Leadership Award, is a powerhouse of wisdom and compassion with a strong dedication to Soroka, which combined with his impressive clinical experience and generosity makes him an exceptional leader. As board leader, Dr. Selman is inspired by Soroka Medical Center’s core humanitarian values. Dr. Jay Selman expressed his gratitude for Soroka and the people of the Negev, as he said “Tonight is about the 1.2 million people of the Negev, which represents half of the area of the State of Israel and the people who work at Soroka - the nurses, the therapists, the physicians, the support staff and all of their families, who work under difficult and dangerous conditions providing lifesaving healing to all in need, while focusing on groundbreaking research in cancer, heart disease, environment and many other fields. They are not just taking care of patients but making active contributions benefiting global health. Together, we are celebrating Soroka’s achievements and preparing for even greater achievements.”

Pedro Lichtinger’s outstanding global leadership in the biotechnology & pharmaceutical industries is directed by the belief that innovation is always at the heart of advancement in medical science. He is the recipient of the Healthcare Champion Award. While accepting his award, bestowed by Gala Honorary Chair Dr. Albert Bourla, CEO of Pfizer, Lichtinger stated: “Soroka Medical Center is a unique center of research that will change the future of clinical research, medicine and health. I am honored to be receiving Soroka's Healthcare Champion Award.” With his deep connection to Israel, Pedro Lichtinger is extremely proud to be supporting medical advancement at Soroka.
Pedro Lichtinger & Family
Dr. Jay Selman & Family
Guests at AFSMC's 9th Annual Gala
As longtime friend and colleague of Pedro Lichtinger, Dr. Albert Bourla said “I am proud to call Pedro Lichtinger my dear friend-- he is a brilliant businessman, an excellent negotiator and sees opportunities when others could not.” He added “At Pfizer, I say “growth never just happens - growth is created”, a phrase I have learned from Pedro, bringing clarity to my work and how I communicate with others. Congratulations, Pedro. I am forever grateful for the lessons you have taught me that have helped shape my life and career.”

In reflecting on the decision for Israel to become the real-world test case of the vaccine’s efficacy, Bourla stated: “As a small nation with universal healthcare, sophisticated systems for collecting and sharing data and deep experience in crisis management, Israel was considered an ideal place for studying the vaccine in a real-world setting. As one of Israel’s leading institutions, with a pioneering spirit and deep focus on clinical research, Soroka represents an ideal place for innovation and medical breakthroughs.”

Guests at AFSMC's 9th Annual Gala
Guests danced the night away feeling hopeful and inspired for a future of medical innovation, science and research. Thanks to your meaningful participation, the Tomorrow’s Health Today Gala was extraordinary! Executive Director of AFSMC, Rachel Heisler Sheinfeld, states “From bench to bedside, research and innovation at Soroka saves lives; shining as a beacon of hope and healing by delivering tomorrow’s health today.” The new Innovation Center at Soroka will focus on advancement of personalized medicine and the study, prevention, and cure of disease. Israel’s most promising physician-researchers will be equipped with the laboratories, resources, and guidance necessary to initiate transformational, patient-centered medical research that benefits the region, the country and the world.

Plastic Surgery Mission
In November, AFSMC’s Medical and Scientific Advisory Council arranged a week-long visiting-professorship at Soroka Medical Center with renowned plastic surgeon Dr. Oren Lerman. Dr. Lerman is a recognized leader in breast reconstruction and cosmetic procedures of the face, breast, and body, and is the director of breast reconstruction at Lenox Hill Hospital's Institute for Comprehensive Breast Care. He is a plastic surgery attending physician at the Lenox Hill and Manhattan Eye, Ear & Throat Hospital and Director of the Breast Aesthetic and Reconstructive Fellowship, where he oversees the training of future plastic surgeons. Dr. Oren Lerman shared his expertise and pioneering techniques in breast reconstruction surgery.
(L to R) Dr. Meir Retchkiman, Dr. Oren Lerman, Dr. Udi Maor & Dr. Itay Wiser
(L to R) Dr. Eldad Silverstein, Dr. Itay Wiser, Dr. Shlomi Codish & Dr. Oren Lerman
Dr. Oren Lerman & Team Performing the Breast Reconstruction Surgery
The Department of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery at Soroka Medical Center, led by Dr. Eldad Silberstein, is one of the largest and most diverse of its kind in Israel. A rare separation of conjoined twins was recently performed at Soroka with the leadership of Prof. Silberstein and his team. The Department of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery at Soroka Medical Center offers a wide range of surgeries and services to address reconstruction needs following trauma, cancer, or due to congenital malformations. Microsurgical surgeries are complex and lengthy surgeries, which require special training and advanced equipment, therefore welcoming Dr. Lerman to further improve the department’s capabilities.

Dr. Lerman successfully performed breast reconstruction surgery on a local patient, affording Soroka’s Plastic Surgery staff the opportunity to observe and be trained in his cutting-edge techniques. In addition, Dr. Lerman presented a state-of-the-art lecture that was broadcast via ICOPLAST to the international plastic-surgery community. NYC Plastic Surgeon Dr. Itay Wiser, AFSMC board and committee member, spearheaded this educational opportunity. Dr. Udi Maor and Dr. Meir Retchkiman, plastic surgeons at Soroka, played instrumental roles in planning the visiting-professorship program. Dr. Udi Maor, Director of Breast Reconstruction at Soroka Medical Center, says “I am glad we were able to make the most of Dr. Lerman’s visit to Israel. Due to the complexity of such surgical procedures, we welcome Dr. Lerman’s expertise to provide better care for our patients”.

Dr. Lerman presented and lectured on Aesthetic Considerations in Autologous Breast Reconstruction, specifically the DIEP Flap Breast Reconstruction Method. This advanced technique utilizes excess abdominal skin and fat transferred from the lower abdomen to the chest to create a new breast mound. By using these advanced microsurgical techniques, the blood vessels that supply this tissue are reconnected to new blood vessels in the chest wall under a microscope. This ‘transplanted’ tissue is living natural tissue that looks, feels, and ages like the original breast tissue allowing for a more natural and enduring result following mastectomy. Participants witnessed the hands-on, personalized surgical experience and training, delivering outstanding results the patient deserved, while furthering Soroka Medical Center’s capabilities in microsurgical techniques.

DECODING ADHD: Soroka Geneticists Discover Molecular Genetic Pathways of ADHD
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a common childhood-onset disorder with unusual levels of hyperactivity and trouble focusing attention on a single task. While there is clearly a genetic predisposition to ADHD, the genes and the molecular mechanism of this common disorder have until now only been partially understood.

A study published this week in Nature Communications demonstrates that a mutation in a single gene, CDH2, can cause ADHD. Moreover, insertion of the human mutation in the homologous mouse gene using CRISPR, caused hereditary hyperactivity in mice. CDH2 encodes N-cadherin, which is known to act in formation and activity of synapses in the brain. The study further demonstrates that the mutation in CDH2 alters the activity of N-cadherin, affecting downstream molecular pathways and dopamine levels in both the ventral midbrain and prefrontal cortex, brain structures known to be involved in ADHD. Thorough electro-physiological and molecular analysis of neurons of the mutant mice demonstrated the precise effects of the mutation on synaptic transmission, with impaired presynaptic vesicle clustering, attenuated evoked transmitter release and decreased spontaneous release.
Prof. Ohad Birk & Daniel Halperin
Hyperactivity in the mutant mice: 6-minute video capture of a CDH2 mutant mouse (right) and its healthy non-mutant sibling (left)
The study was done as part of the MD-PhD thesis of Daniel Halperin, guided by Prof. Ohad Birk at the Morris Kahn Lab of Ben Gurion University (BGU) and the Genetics Institute at Soroka Medical Center. As head of the Genetics Institute of Soroka Medical Center and the Morris Kahn Human Molecular Genetics Lab at BGU, Prof. Ohad Birk’s revolutionary work has solved the complicated genetic puzzles rippling through the Bedouin community. Prof. Birk’s research lab has deciphered the molecular basis and mechanism of more than 40 human diseases, including some of the most prevalent severe hereditary diseases in Arabs and in Jews. Also participating in this study were Dr. Alexandra Stavsky, Dr. Daniel Gitler, Dr. Gal Meiri and members of the Birk lab and the Genetics Institute. The study was supported by the Israel Science Foundation and the Morris Kahn Foundation.

The study demonstrates that a novel mutation in CDH2 is associated with familial ADHD, through impaired presynaptic vesicle clustering, attenuated evoked transmitter release, decreased spontaneous release, and reduction in dopaminergic distribution within limbic pathways. The investigators delineated the role of CDH2-related pathways in the pathophysiology of ADHD. Besides the scientific importance of the findings in clear delineation of a novel genetic basis and molecular pathways for ADHD, both the mutant human cells and the mouse strain carrying the human mutation can serve as an effective model system for discovery of novel medications for ADHD. New studies along these lines have now been initiated by the Birk team at the National Institute for Biotechnology in the Negev (NIBN). The complete scientific article can be found at

Soroka Summer Highlights
Hamptons Event
High Tea with Dr. Larry Norton in East Hampton was hosted by Board Member Julie Ratner and Patti Kenner at the Leiber Museum.
Rachel Heisler, Dr. Julie Ratner, Itzhak Perlman & Patti Kenner
Guests Enjoying the Classical Music Performance
Myra Baldreidge, Mimi Freidfeld and Rita Wasserman
Perlman Music Program Alumni elevating the experience with live classical music variations
Esteemed Breast Cancer Oncologist and Scientist - Dr. Larry Norton conversing with guests
Guests were invited to visit the exclusive Judith Leiber collection

Food, Fashion & Philanthropy
Food, Fashion & Philanthropy in Deal, NJ was a beautiful afternoon of friendship with hundreds of guests enjoying a luxurious afternoon of culture and friendship.
Executive Director of #SorokaFriends Rachel Heisler introducing Soroka Medical Center
MC Marlene Tawil conversing designer Elisha Abargel about his work and inspiration
Elisha Abargel with the beautiful models
Shelly Antebi & Friends
Poopa Dweck & friends
Alice Adjmi during her vegetarian demonstration
Fashionista Tobi Rubinstein with her new book “ The House of Faith & Fashion”
Shifra Hanon & Family

Mrs. Jila Khani (née Kimiabakhsh)
We extend condolences to board member Faramarz David Kimiabakhsh of Great Neck, NY on the passing of his beloved sister Jila Khani, and to Jila’s husband Dr. Soleyman and children Payam, David and Pouya. Jila was born in Tehran. She moved to Los Angeles after the revolution of 1979 and ultimately raised her family in Great Neck, New York.
Jila was a role model of Chesed, revered for her selflessness, dedication to Tikun Olam, and her big heart. The active yet modest manner she participated in communal life was to be admired. There was nothing she wouldn’t do for her family and wide circle of friends, who revered her as a true angel.

Over the years, she hosted a synagogue in her home, welcomed people in need to live in her home, and was president of her Synagogue Beth Hadassah Synagogue of Great Neck. When she became ill, her family searched tirelessly for a cure - conducting bone marrow drives across the country. While sadly no match was revealed for her, the drives resulted in numerous matches and have already saved several lives.

Lady Nina Franklin
We mourn the passing of Lady Nina Franklin, mother of our president Caroline Freidfertig. Lady Nina died peacefully at the age of 96 surrounded by her children, holding hands with Roland, her loving husband of 72 years. Nina was the matriarch of a prolific family with numerous grandchildren and great grandchildren.Theirs was a storybook romance that exuded love and were exemplary role models for generations to come.
Born in Holland in 1925, she moved to England in 1927, graduating from the Royal Academy of Music as a pianist. In 1979 the family emigrated to the United States. Their adventurous life journey continued when they moved to Antigua, BWI in 1987. It was a courageous move, pioneering on a tropical island that became their home. Her memory will be cherished by many across several continents. Her commitment to Judaism never failed and she imparted strong family values to her children and grandchildren. Nina touched everyone she met, her hospitality was unmatched, her wisdom and advice priceless.

Nina is survived by her devoted husband, Sir Roland Franklin, and her children Caroline, Vivian, Melanie, Jonathan, Rosalind and Martin, and two brothers, Stephen and Ian, and a sister, Evelyn.

May their memories be for a blessing.

Special Diamond Ring Raffle!!
A generous friend has donated this amazing ring set to help Soroka raise urgently needed funds. With your donation of at least $500 you will receive automatic entry in this raffle. Only 72 tickets will be sold, with a limit of 5 tickets per patron. Good Luck to all!!
Purchase A Raffle Ticket
100% of proceeds will help us acquire highly specialized neonatal incubators for Soroka's tiniest and most fragile babies.
Donations of $500 will receive a complimentary entry into AFSMC's Holiday Raffle
American Friends of Soroka Medical Center
PO Box 184-H | Scarsdale, NY 10583 | (914) 725-9070