September 2022
Holiday Greetings   News   Events
Happy New Year Dear Friends!

In anticipation of the Jewish New Year and High Holidays, we are humbled to wish our Soroka Friends community a Shana Tova! On October 25, we are celebrating 10 Years of Friendship for our American Friends of Soroka (AFS) organization. This has been a period of unprecedented development for Soroka, and we are so proud and honored to partner with such a noble healthcare institution that is the bedrock of life in Israel's Negev.

Over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, we were so fortunate to have such a caring and generous community of friends and supporters who helped in so many ways. Thank you to those who choose to support Soroka. It is deeply appreciated, and makes a real difference for the people of Israel's Southern half. It is a privilege to participate in tzedakah and "tikun olam" - helping to build a just, peaceful and healthy society - and supporting Soroka Medical Center is a beautiful way to express these values.

We also thank you for supporting us during times of conflict. This year's Operation Breaking Dawn saw Soroka again on high alert, caring for patients evacuated to Soroka with a range of injuries including PTSD, and we were forced to evacuate nearly 100 babies receiving intensive care to a sheltered area of the hospital.

This underscores the profound importance of our new flagship project - the creation of a new state-of-the-art Neonatal Care Center. Our Gala is dedicated to supporting this project.

Soroka is devoted to improving healthcare outcomes for the under-served, providing cutting-edge medical care to the 1.2 million residents of the lower half of Israel, and dedicating enormous resources to advancing new research to improve treatments, detection, prevention of disease, to benefit humanity world-wide.

We warmly invite you to attend the gala, and if that is not possible, please visit the gala site and learn about this year's stellar honorees and ways for you to participate and support.

We give thanks to all of our dear supporters and friends, and look forward to a wonderful year ahead, of meaningful accomplishments and deep fulfillment, enjoyed in peace and good health. Wishing you a Happy and Healthy New Year,
Caroline Franklin Freidfertig
Rachel Heisler Sheinfeld
Executive Director
Hadassah Leiberman
Hadassah is the daughter of Holocaust survivors who fled the Czech Republic to the US. Her family history deeply influenced her development into a strong voice for women's health, promoting international understanding. She is a graduate of Boston University with a BA in Government and Dramatics and Northeastern University with an MA in International Relations and American Government. Her career in public health included positions at Lehman Brothers, Pfizer, and the National Research Council. Her memoir Hadassah: An American Story was published in 2021. She is married to former Senator Joseph Lieberman; they have four children and twelve grandchildren.
Angela & Gary Retelny
Angela and Gary are passionate about advocating for Israel and medical innovation. They are deeply committed to the life-saving mission of Soroka. Angela is a respected Board Member of American Friends of Soroka Medical Center and has held substantial leadership roles in major Jewish organizations. An elite realtor with Compass in Scarsdale, Angela is ranked among the top 1.5% of all agents in New York. Gary is the President and CEO of Institutional Shareholder Services, the world's leading provider of corporate governance and responsible investment solutions. Angela and Gary are parents of Jessica (Jason Shames) and Daniela (Andrew Blum) and grandparents to Harris and Chelsea.

To purchase tickets, participate in the auction or donate to Soroka's Neonatal Care Center, visit
The History of the Star of David Artwork Unveiled at Soroka
On July 10, Soroka Medical Center celebrated Israel's newest cultural landmark, the "The History of the Star of David" by Marc Bennett. It was unveiled in a moving ceremony in its permanent home at the Healing Garden of the Legacy Heritage Oncology Center and Dr. Larry Norton Institute in the presence of directors and members of the Friends of Soroka from the United States and Israel, members of the hospital staff, employees, patients and other dignitaries.
Rachel Heisler, Marc Bennett & Dr. Shlomi Codish
The uplifting color palette of this spectacular art installation depicts the enduring journey of the world's most recognizable star, shining as a beacon of hope at the center of Be'er Sheva. Thanks to AFS board, supporters, partners, El Al Airlines and to the Iranian American Jewish Federation, this art installation was made possible.

Dr. Shlomi Codish, Director General of Soroka Medical Center, remarks "The members of the Friends of Soroka Association in New York have a deep and long-standing partnership with the hospital. The members of the association work hard to promote and develop the medical center. This wonderful display is an example of the connection of the members of the association to the physical and spiritual healing of the residents of the Negev, and I thank them for that." AFS Board President Caroline Freidfertig, Board Vice President Carlos Gutierrez, Board Treasurer Hillel Caplan, Board Secretary Deborah Cherki and Board Members, David Kimiabakhsh, President Emeritus Ruth Steinberg, President Emeritus Dr. Jay Selman, Henri Boll and Ran Daniel were instrumental and are proud to be part of Soroka's initiative combining art and healing.
"The History of the Star of David" by Marc Bennett with AFS Board, Mindy Gale and Dr. Itzhak Avital; (Photo Credit: Jordan Polevoy)
Visitors, patients and staff are now able to connect with the powerful piece, reflecting hope, perseverance and strength. Prof. Yitzhak Avital, Director of the Legacy Heritage Center for Oncology at Soroka: "The environment plays a significant part in the healing process, and the healing garden in the oncology center allows the patient to relax, take a break from the treatment routine and inspire hope. The special work that was placed in the garden represents the survival of the Star of David over the years, which may also strengthen our patients in their daily struggles." The installation evokes a sense of survival and determination, as well as a celebration of Jewish culture, tradition and faith.

Looking to the future, the work of art, a stunning example of entrepreneurial philanthropy, is expected to generate significant revenue for Soroka's Comprehensive Cancer Center, though merchandising and art sales. Learn more about the project at Contact, (212) 993-5815, to discuss merchandise licensing opportunities.

An Evening of Art and Inspiration
Judith F. Hernstadt graciously hosted Deputy Consul General of Israel in NY, Israel Nitzan, for a lovely gathering and private briefing in her Manhattan home. Nitzan delivered a behind-the-scenes geo-political briefing. Guests enjoyed a tour of Ms. Herstadt's exquisite apartment and art collections.
Eliza De Sola Mendes, Rachel Heisler, Caroline Freidfertig, Judith Hernstadt, Pazit Levitan & Will Liss
Sophie Sassoon, Malcolm Kanter & Pazit Levitan
Deputy Consul General of Israel in NY, Israel Nitzan with Judith F. Hernstadt
Karen & Mitch Kuflik, Rachel Heisler, Mitch Lindenfeld & Israel Nitzan
This evening afforded new Friends of Soroka the opportunity to learn about our lifesaving mission, and explore the ways Soroka save lives in Israel and around the world with excellent healthcare, innovation, clinical research and medical breakthroughs.
Rachel Heisler, Israel Nitzan & Caroline Freidfertig
Judith F. Hernstadt & Caroline Freidfertig

A Medical Miracle in the Negev
In March, AFS had the honor of introducing Head of Pediatric Neurosurgery at Soroka, Dr. Mickey Gideon to our NY, FL and LA communities, where he was hosted by Iracilda & Pedro Lichtinger in Miami, in Beverly Hills by Temple Sinai and Iris & Mikey Dardashti and in New York by Hengameh & David Kimia and Dr. Malcolm Kanter & Sophie Sassoon.

Dr. Gideon shared the heroic and awesome story of the miraculous surgery of successfully separating conjoined twins. This is a story of international collaboration, harnessing cutting edge technology including 3-D modeling, virtual reality and AI in preparing for the matarton surgery of separating Israel's first event twins conjoined at their heads. The result could not have been better - the girls were successfully separated, thriving, and are expected to live independent and full lives. They are currently receiving intensive ongoing therapy at Soroka.

Expressing his gratitude for the strong support, Dr. Gideon stated "The doctors, nurses and staff at Soroka are the mind and body, while you, our American friends, are the heart and spirit of Soroka. We cannot exist without your partnership and support."
Dr. Mickey Gideon, Iracilda Lichtinger, Rachel Heisler, Pazit Levitan, Pedro Lichtinger & Joel Sheinfeld
Orna Myara, Rahel Shamailova, Rachel Heisler, Caroline Freidfertig, Iris & Mikey Dardashti, Dr. Mickey Gideon, Pazit Levitan, Chloe Kimiabakhsh & Bryan Kimiabakhsh
The separated conjoined twins (Credit- Soroka Medical Center)
Malcolm Kanter, Dr. Mickey Gideon, Rachel Heisler, Dr. David Staffenberg, Caroline Freidfertig, Pazit Levitan, Rahel Shamailova & Sophie Sassoon
We thank the AFS Board of Directors for their leadership! Our board members hosted, organized and collaborated with our professional team and committee volunteers on making these events a huge success, introducing the extraordinary work done at Soroka to our community.

Board President, Caroline Freidfertig said: "I cannot let this go by without congratulating our fabulous team who put together a whirlwind tour of events, featuring our own Soroka star, Dr. Mickey Gideon. Each event was meticulously coordinated and took a lot of work and collaboration. In Miami, Los Angeles, and New York City, we had amazing events generating a lot of enthusiasm, new friends and good will!" We thank those of you who supported our life-saving mission and we look forward to keeping in touch with our blossoming communities.

Soroka Friends at the Mets
American Friends of Soroka Medical Center Celebrated Israel with the NY Mets at Citi Field on August 14! Soroka friends enjoyed a lovely social afternoon outing of sport, sun and philanthropy. If you missed the event and would like to contribute to our life-saving mission, visit
Rachel Heisler, Max Epstein, Henny Witriol, Chaya Khaimova & Melissa Chapman
Pazit Levitan, Lev Gilbert & Guests

Peaceful Co-Existence at Soroka Medical Center: A Circle-of Life Organ Donation Chain
During Operation Breaking Dawn, where hundreds of missiles rained onto the Negev and residents hid in bomb shelters, a transplant marathon occurred at Soroka, saving three lives. 49 years old Paz Arbeli-Baruch decided to become an altruistic kidney donor. "For years I had a secret desire to perform the significant act of organ donation," said Arbeli-Baruch. She is the mother of three children and a school principal in Be'er Sheva. "A few years ago I watched a television interview on the subject of kidney donation. This idea entered my head, and grew stronger year by year."
This year Paz decided to take action and contacted the transplant center. She underwent numerous medical tests and screening interviews, and passed them all - and the miracle of life initiated by Paz began to unfold. "I came from a place of excitement, not fear - I felt deeply that it was a great privilege for me to be in this position."

Paz understood that her donation would initiate a domino effect, saving other patients, which heightened her anticipation for the operation.
Paz Arbeli-Baruch
This organ-transplant marathon transpired in collaboration with other hospitals. Paz donated her kidney at Soroka Medical Center to Marvan Janini, a 68-year-old family doctor from Abu Sanan in the north of Israel. Marvan's wife, Miranda Janini, 58, donated her kidney to 63-year-old Shams Khashan at the Sheba Medical Center. Shams' son, 31-year-old Timur, donated his kidney to 51-year old Eliyahu Shilian, and his transplant was performed at Soroka Medical Center. At the end of the day, three lives were saved.

Paz recalls the day of her operation saying "I realized that it was a unique chain, in which three people would gain a new kidney. It was a very exciting day and I felt like I was about to change someone's world, an act that creates life. It's hard for me to even explain my appreciation for life.
Sheba's Dr. Ronan Ghinea with transplant recipient Shams Hashan, his son Timur, who donated a kidney, and family.
Kidney transplant recipient Eliyahu Shalian and the Soroka transplant team
Dr. Marwan Janini stated: "I spoke with Paz, and I shared with her my appreciation and understanding of the Jewish people, who have an profound culture of giving, no matter to whom. The value and ethics surrounding organ donation are complex, and I am eternally grateful to Paz for saving my life."

In reflecting on how the organ transplant chain she initiated unfolded simultaneously with a barrage of fire from Gaza, and the recipient of her kidney is an Arab, Paz stated: "We, all the residents of the south, were under fire together, and the fact that the recipient of my kidney was an Arab intensified the emotions. He seems to be an amazing person. I see the person and not the stereotype. I hope this positively impacts future cultural sensitivity and understanding in our society. I am from a very Zionistic background, and I grew up with the value to cherish all life. I hope these events amplify these values".

The Gift of Life
Mindy Ziegerman Gale and Jeffrey Amtman had the unique experience of transporting two donated corneas to Soroka Medical Center. New York Eye Bank for Sight Restoration provided the donor tissue for vision-restoring corneal transplants, and Dr. Boris Knayzer performed the transplant surgery. Soroka has outstanding Opthamologist facilities and the need for organ donations is very high.
Mindy Ziegerman Gale & Jeffrey Amtman

The Future of Israel is Born at Soroka Medical Center
The critical importance of Soroka Medical Center, known as Israel's Medical Iron Dome and the sole major medical center in the south of Israel, was underscored once again during Operation Breaking Dawn. Soroka stood ready for any eventuality by establishing an emergency command center to help coordinate logistics with medical staff. Soroka's Francis and Nathan Kirsh Emergency Department and Trauma Center, Israel's busiest ER, prepared to treat physical and psychological trauma for all; including Jews, Arabs, immigrants, refugees, as well as IDF personnel.
Neonatal Care at Soroka
Unfortunately, Soroka is experienced with such dire emergency situations. This was the 8th time in recent years that Soroka relocated the NICU to shelters. The dedicated doctors, nurses and staff responded immediately. Their first mission was to relocate all vulnerable departments into temporary sheltered facilities, including the fragile babies in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. Staff members, IDF personnel and parents carefully transported babies connected to multiple pumps and breathing tubes in incubators to underground protected facilities. Imagine minutes after giving birth, the happiest moments in a couple's lives, running to shelters due to the looming danger and uncertainty of the evolving situation. Fortunately, the situation was resolved without harm to the babies.
Staff members relocating the babies of the NICU to temporary shelters
American Friends of Soroka Medical Center's (AFS) mission is to provide support for Soroka's family-centered intensive care departments with world-class survival rates. As Israel's busiest Neonatal department, with over 17,000 births a year, there is an urgent need to upgrade, expand and protect the entire range of neonatal services. AFS 10th annual gala on October 25th at the Pierre Hotel will be fundraising for the babies of the Negev the future of Israel. The physical conditions of the existing neonatal department, built in the 1980s, were no longer suitable for modern family-centered neonatal care. The building had glass bricks in the ceiling and many large windows, originally intended to allow healthy penetration of daylight, but become life threatening due to threat of missile attacks. The new protected Neonatal Care Center will be completed within 4 years: construction began this past summer. Many significant donor recognition opportunities remain.
AFS invites you to join our community in creating a brighter future for the people of Israel. In the spirit of Rosh Hashanah, let's work together for the sake of peace and life in the New Year. Donations can be made at To inquire about donation opportunities, please contact or call our office at 914-725-9070.
Upcoming Events
• NYC Gala - Oct 25, 2022
• Backgammon Tournament - Nov 10, 2022
• Miami Soir√©e - Jan 26, 2023
• Mission To Israel - Mar 12-19, 2023

Soroka's Friends Mission to Israel 2022
The friends of Soroka who participated in the AFS July Mission to Israel were witness to the amazing developments on the Soroka Medical Center Campus and throughout the city of Be'er Sheva, which is rapidly transforming into a buzzing high-tech hub. Soroka is fulfilling its promise to Israel to help the desert bloom.
Israel is a country of immense natural beauty, world-class culture, and rich history. On our 4th AFS Mission to Israel, 14 Soroka Friends from around the USA were immersed in the culture, history and innovations that comprises the fabric of Israel on this content-rich seven-day trip, which included an unforgettable visit to Soroka Medical Center, experiencing the scope and impact of the hospital, and exploring medical specialties that resonated for them personally.
The trip started in Jerusalem with a visit to the Western Wall, hidden gems of the Old City and an immersion into the diverse communities that comprise Israel today. In the Negev, participants gained a unique perspective of the Ethiopian community and Bedouin society, while experiencing Israeli Startup Culture and world-class science, with a focus on Health and Sustainability. The trip culminated in Tel Aviv/Jaffa, with art, culture and history explorations, beautiful beaches and exciting nightlife of Israel and amazing friendships.

Soroka's Israel Mission 2023 will be in the Spring this year, from March 12-19. Registration is now open:
American Friends of Soroka Medical Center
PO Box 184-H | Scarsdale, NY 10583 | (914) 725-9070