The American Friends of Soroka Medical Center—a nonprofit that seeks to increase awareness of Soroka Medical Center—gathered at the Pierre Hotel in New York April 26 for the fifth annual gala benefiting Soroka Medical Center’s women’s health initiatives: Breast Health Center, Negev Center for Eating Disorders, and the Saban Birth and Maternity Center. Dan Abrams, national-television legal correspondent, was the evening’s master of ceremonies.
The event, a celebration of the fashion industry, honored Soroka Medical Center’s American founding father, the late David Dubinsky. Dubinsky was honored with Soroka’s Statesman for Israel Award, accepted by Ryna Appleton Segal, his granddaughter. A video tribute detailed the life of the man who changed the garment/fashion industry in New York and worldwide. Dubinsky served as president of the International Ladies Garment Workers Union (ILGWU), was vice president of the AFL-CIO and received the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Shouly and Abraham Maslavi, principals of Jovani Fashions, received the Fashion Industry Leadership Award. A fashion show featuring glamorous Jovani special-occasion dresses was a highlight of the evening. The brothers expressed their deep support of Israel, as well as their appreciation of the work of the state-of-the-art medical facility. A fashion- and entertainment-filled “silent auction” added to the fundraising excitement.
The inaugural Dubinsky Humanitarian Award was presented to Sonia Gardner, president, managing partner and co-founder of Avenue Capital Group. Gardner, a noted humanitarian committed to women’s issues, health care and social justice, spoke of the need to “give back.” She has received numerous leadership awards recognizing her philanthropic work.
In 1955, as part of the effort to “make the desert bloom,” Moshe Soroka, a major pioneer of health services in Israel—together with Israel Barzilai; David Tuviyahu, the first mayor of Beer-Sheva; and David Ben-Gurion—asked Dubinsky to help. He raised $1 million to build a hospital in Beer-Sheva. The Central Hospital of Negev, initially a 250-bed facility, opened in 1956.
Some 60 years later, it is one of Israel’s largest, most strategic hospitals, serving one of Israel’s most diverse regions. The almost 1,100-bed facility, renamed Soroka Medical Center after the 1972 death of Moshe Soroka, is home to Israel’s busiest maternity center. Per the American Friends of Soroka Medical Center, the hospital provides “prevention, research, diagnosis, education and integrated care for all, regardless of race, religion or politics in medical areas including cancer, genetics, brain and trauma” and “is essential to meeting the medical needs of the Israel Defense Forces.”
Dr. Ehud Davidson, director general of Soroka Medical Center, served as the gala’s keynote speaker. He described the wide range of facilities provided by the medical center, noting that it is “a pioneering and preeminent teaching hospital…improving the lives of some of Israel’s most vulnerable citizens.”
Emphasizing the center’s inclusiveness, Davidson concluded, “When one person is in pain, it hurts the rest of us. It is much more than just a hospital. Soroka is a place where the Negev heals and grows stronger together.”
Angela Retelny served as the gala chair. The evening’s co-chairs were Nira and Ken Abramowitz, David and Hengameh Kimiabakhsh, Caroline and Shlomo Freidfertig, and Ruth and Jeffrey Steinberg. Rachel Heisler is executive director of the American Friends of Soroka Medical Center.