2007 Gala: Providing a Vital Lifeline for Israel

A star-studded group of 600 supporters attended the 2007 American Friends of Rabin Medical Center (AFRMC) Annual Gala Dinner on October 28, 2007 at the magnificent Cipriani Wall Street in downtown Manhattan. AFRMC Chairman, Barry Cohen, welcomed everyone and noted that the evening's purpose was to support the Rabin Medical Center, Israel's premier hospital and an institution of central importance in Israel and the Middle East. Cohen recognized distinguished guests and supporters of Israel who were in the audience. They included gala honoree Frederick Frank, a renowned investment banker; gala co-chairs Arnold Burns, Esq., and Millie and Larry Magid; Dina Recanati, past gala honoree; David Barouk and his family, a generous friend Phil and Pat Frost; Alan Dershowitz, the keynote speaker; and numerous Hollywood and Broadway personalities, including Tovah Feldshuh, Sherill Milnes, Anne Meara, and Eli Wallach and Anne Jackson, the Award of Excellence honorees. This year 170 young professionals were in attendance to support the Gala Dinner, and to attend a first ever After Party for the young and young-at-heart.

Nava Barak, President of Israel Friends of Rabin Medical Center since 1997, a First Lady of Israel and the First Lady of the Rabin Medical Center, greeted the assembled guests. She reminded everyone that Israel still faces threats and danger on a daily basis, with a barrage of Kassam rockets fired continually on the citizens of Sderot. The situation is still volatile, she stressed, and all segments of Israeli society rely on the Rabin Medical Center, from immigrants to IDF (Israel Defence Forces) soldiers. Nava praised the tremendous transformation at Rabin Medical Center, thanks to the cooperation and friendship of the circle of friends of Rabin Medical Center. She introduced a video showcasing the work of Rabin Medical Center's Emergency and Trauma department, featuring a heart attack survivor and a wounded IDF soldier. As a special surprise, Tom Schechter, the young wounded soldier featured in the video, took the podium and spoke of the "amazing" treatment he and his military unit had received at Rabin Medical Center. "We couldn't have been in a better place or better hands," he said. "This hospital is our lifeline." The audience was deeply moved as he thanked everyone for their support and generosity.

Jennifer Roth, Senior Vice President at Sotheby's, conducted a successful Equipment Appeal auction to raise money for equipment that would help bolster the Emergency Unit.

The highlight of the evening was the keynote address by Professor Alan Dershowitz, renowned civil liberties lawyer and Harvard University Professor. Prof. Dershowitz spoke about the three threats facing the Jewish people and Israel today: an academic threat from hate-filled propaganda on college campuses, political attacks on Israel, and a military threat from a nuclear Iran. Dershowitz highlighted Rabin Medical Center's record of excellence and compassion, demonstrating the best of the Jewish community and the Jewish state. Hospitals in Israel admit and care for all patients equally, irrespective of religion or ethnicity. Further, Israel per capita exports more lifesaving technology to the rest of the world than any other country. Such facts demonstrate the highest values of respecting human life, which Israel represents and champions.

The evening's entertainment was provided by Loren Schoenberg's Jazz Museum in Harlem's All-Star Band. Tovah Feldshuh introduced Anne Meara, who presented the AFRMC Award of Excellence to Eli Wallach and Anne Jackson, stars of the stage and silver screen, for their cultural contributions which have enriched the lives of all Americans. Next, Judge Abe Sofaer, one of America's outstanding jurists, presented the evening's award to Frederick Frank, Vice Chair of Lehman Brothers, a friend of Israel and the Jewish people. Co-chairs of the dinner, Millie and Larry Magid, introduced the new CEO of the Rabin Medical Center, Dr. Eyran Halpern. Dr. Halpern described the work of the hospital, and then paid tribute to Dr. Dan Oppenheim. The concluding evening's entertainment was provided by the Three Mo' Tenors. Following the dinner, there was a spectacular After Party with entertainment provided by Johnny Colon and his Salsa Orchestra. This year's Gala Dinner was the most successful to date in attendance and fundraising efforts.

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