Two children who have been the recipients of Save a Child’s Heart’s care. (Credit: SACH)
The United Nations as a whole – and through many of its affiliated organizations – has shown hostility and outright hatred for anything Israeli for decades. So it was surprising and encouraging when Save A Child’s Heart (SACH), a non-political, voluntary organization based at Wolfson Medical Center in Holon, was recently awarded the UN Population Award for saving the lives of more than 5,000 Third-World youngsters born with congenital heart defects.
It was the first time than an Israeli non-profit organization received the award.
“Most people don’t know that about one out of every 100 children are born with congenital heart disease. And though most of these children have correctable conditions, the majority of them will die before the age of 20 as a result of the lack of facilities and doctors capable of performing the life-saving heart surgeries or catheterization they so desperately need,” said Dr. Lior Sasson, SACH’s lead surgeon when he accepted the award from UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres during an official ceremony at UN headquarters in New York. Sasson was accompanied by his colleagues, Dr. Akiva Tamir and Dr. Sion Houri.
Sasson continued that every child saved has the potential to change the world – and indeed, some have gone on to start schools and support orphans. “The mandate of the United Nations Population Fund is, in part, to deliver a world in which every young person’s potential is fulfilled. The goal of Save a Child’s Heart, as we see it, is to contribute our small part to achieving this mandate. We hope that by mending hearts we are building bridges of peace, person to person, nation to nation, and saving the world one heart at a time.”
Dr. Lior Sasson attends to one of his young patients. (Credit: SACH)
Each year, the Committee for the UN Population Award honors an individual or institution for outstanding contributions to issues of population and reproductive health and to their solutions. The award won by SACH was established by the UN General Assembly in 1981 and first presented in 1983. It consists of a gold medal, a diploma and a monetary prize.
The organization was established in 1995 at Wolfson Medical Center with the mission to improve the quality of pediatric cardiac care for children in developing nations and creating centers of competence in these countries and saving lives regardless of the child’s nationality, religion, color, gender or financial situation. So far, their surgeons and nurses – all working on a voluntary basis at the hospital – have saved children from 57 countries in Africa, South America, Europe, Asia, and throughout the Middle East. Half of the children they have treated are Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza, which are officially and practically at war with Israel.
Every Tuesday, SACH holds a cardiology clinic for Palestinian children. Twenty to 30 children arrive at Wolfson every week with their parents, to be examined by the SACH heart physicians. Doctors accompany the children from Gaza who also come to work in the clinic with their Israeli partners.
SACH has also trained more than 120 medical personnel, including Palestinian doctors, and holds preoperative and follow-up cardiology clinics in Holon and abroad on a weekly basis. It also leads surgical and educational missions to partner countries, which include Ethiopia, Senegal, Zanzibar, Tanzania, Romania, Myanmar and Fiji. SACH is currently training at Wolfson medical personnel from Tanzania, Kenya, Ethiopia, and the Palestinian Authority.
The organization is now constructing an International Pediatric Cardiac Center at Wolfson that will enable SACH to save more children every year. The seven-story building, to be completed next year, will be named the Sylvan Adams Children’s Hospital and also serve young Israelis in the area.
SACH’s founder, Dr. Amram (Ami) Cohen, was a pediatric cardiothoracic surgeon, who immigrated to Israel from the US in 1992. He quickly established the organization, which he turned into an important contributor to children’s health worldwide. He joined Wolfson’s staff and served as the deputy chief of cardiovascular surgery and head of pediatric cardiac surgery.
In 1988, while serving in the US armed forces in Korea, the head of the international organization Save the Hearts approached him. The organization was sending orphaned and indigent Korean children to Western countries for medical care not available locally. Cohen was so impressed with the idea that he requested and received permission from his superiors to participate in the program, and during the rest of his time in Korea, performed 35 pediatric cardiac surgeries.
He joined the staff of the Wolfson Medical Center and served as its deputy chief and then director of pediatric cardiovascular surgery. The organization came into being when an Ethiopian doctor contacted Cohen after being referred to him by a mutual friend at the University of Massachusetts. He asked for Cohen’s help with two children in desperate need of heart surgery, which in fact saved their lives. Cohen died tragically in 2001 from altitude sickness while climbing Mount Kilimanjaro – but SACH continued.
“Ami would have been very proud of us that we are continuing what he started by operating on young children from Gaza,” Sasson added.
Nine years ago, despite terrorist attacks on southern Israel from Gaza, a three-week-old baby named Jafar underwent surgery. Sasson, his surgeon, said Jafar – who was accompanied by his grandmother –would almost surely have died quickly after birth because he was born with a severe congenital heart defect, the transposition of the great arteries. “He is a very sweet baby. We don’t care if he comes from a Hamas family or what. He is a baby,” he said. “We have a well-oiled operation, and the security forces know us well. There are no problems, even during a war,” Sasson said.
And SACH has had the additional benefit of bringing hearts together. A poll of Palestinian relatives of children who underwent free heart surgery at Wolfson found that a vast majority “positively changed their opinions about Israel” as a result. They said that the good deed strengthened mutual trust between the two peoples. Eighty-eight percent of the relatives praised the level of medical care at Wolfson and warm contacts with the staff. When the general Palestinian public were asked whether the program brings Palestinians and Israelis closer together, they agreed. About half of the representative sample of Palestinians polled knew of the Save A Child’s Heart program. More than 80% of them were in favor of children from Gaza and the West Bank who needed heart surgery going to an Israeli hospital for treatment.
Most Israelis who were also surveyed said they favor Palestinian children from Gaza and the West Bank being allowed to come to Israel hospitals for heart surgery and catheterizations and said it was better to do it here than in other countries. A majority of Israelis (80%) said it was right for Israeli surgeons and other hospital staffers to treat these Palestinian children well.
We all know that the midterm elections are different this time around. They are usually like “all politics,” namely local. But this time around they’re different. They are all presidential, all about Trump, as most everything is. And for the anti-Trump crowd — I’m talking about the political commentators and “analysts” — any and all things bad are held to be Trump’s fault. This is presumably because they believe that their condemnations of Trump will result in a Democrat takeover of the House of Representatives.
A new book explores how graffiti artists in Beirut skirt limitations on expression to share political criticism in the streets.
A photograph of the book “Drawing Lines” by Tamara Zantout, taken at the launch of the book at Beit Beirut cultural center, Beirut, Lebanon, Oct. 25, 2018.
BEIRUT — Beirut’s alleyways and streets are peppered in bright, detailed and provocative graffiti. Street artists use the medium, which exists in a legal grey area, to express their identity and give voice to political frustrations.
On Tuesday, San Francisco will become the largest city in the nation to allow noncitizens to vote, and the city has spent $310,000 on a “new registration system” specifically aimed at illegals. As the San Francisco Chronicle reports, the plan is the first in the state and follows Proposition N, a 2016 ballot measure allowing votes by noncitizens over the age of 18, reside in the city, and have children under age 19.
By the count of the Chronicle, only 49 noncitizens have signed up to vote on Tuesday, which works out to $6,326 for every illegal voter, but there’s more to the story. City officials are worried that voting could expose illegals to ICE, who might come looking and possibly deport somebody. So supervisor Sandra Lee Fewer, a backer of Proposition N, urged the city to spend $500,000 to warn the illegals.
At first Sabbath service after massacre, shooting survivors are blessed; rabbi says to those who condemned Trump’s visit: ‘No one tells me how to welcome a guest in my own home’
On November 3, 2018, a joint communal Shabbat prayer service at Pittsburgh’s Beth Shalom Conservative synagogue following the massacre a week prior which saw 11 Jewish community members killed. (Amanda Borschel-Dan/Times of Israel)
PITTSBURGH, Pennsylvania — A week after an anti-Semitic shooter massacred 11 worshipers at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue, the community embraced each other in prayer on Saturday.
IS EUROPE RETURNING to the horrors of the 1930s? In an assessment typical of the moment, Max Holleran writes in the New Republic that “in the past ten years, new right-wing political movements have brought together coalitions of Neo-Nazis with mainstream free-market conservatives, normalizing political ideologies that in the past rightly caused alarm.” He sees this trend creating a surge in “xenophobic populism.” Writing in Politico, Katy O’Donnell agrees: “Nationalist parties now have a toehold everywhere from Italy to Finland, raising fears the continent is backpedaling toward the kinds of policies that led to catastrophe in the first half of the 20th century.” Jewish leaders like Menachem Margolin, head of the European Jewish Association, sense “a very real threat from populist movements across Europe.”
IS EUROPE RETURNING to the horrors of the 1930s? In an assessment typical of the moment, Max Holleran writes in the New Republic that “in the past ten years, new right-wing political movements have brought together coalitions of Neo-Nazis with mainstream free-market conservatives, normalizing political ideologies that in the past rightly caused alarm.”
We’ve been told for a long time that the ceasefire is on the way. It had many names in the past, such as tahdiah, hudna, and most recently—”an arrangement.” On Friday, once again, reports started emerging that an agreement has been reached. Several hours later, southern Israel was hit with a barrage of rockets. What happened?
And He said, “You will not be able to see My face, for No Human Being shall see Me and live.” — Shemot 33:20
Faith is deeper than knowledge. While scientific data is absorbed only in the brain, faith permeates all parts of the human personality. Nothing is untouched, all spiritual limbs quiver, and everything is transformed. It is thus more difficult to acquire faith than knowledge, and faith has a more radical effect on the human being.
A Catholic archbishop recently touched on an unspoken but highly subversive phenomenon: How anti-Christian forces exploit Christian teachings to empower those who seek to dismantle Christian civilization, Muslims being chief among them.
In an interview published last summer by the Italian outlet IlGionarle.it, Catholic Archbishop Athanasius Schneider of Kazakhstan said:
The King of Jordan, not some lowly clerk, announced that Jordan will not extend the currently existing leases renting two parcels of land to Israel. One is the so-called Island of Peace in the northern Naharayim area and the other located in the southern Arava, near Tzofar, an agricultural cooperative village (moshav). Jordan was entirely within its rights to decide not to renew the leases