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March 16, 2011 11:48 am

ICRF Honors Rabbi, Doctors, Philanthropists

avatar by Maxine Dovere

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Rabbi Elie Abadie, receipient of the Tower of Hope Humanitarian Award, began the evening with a blessing. Photo: Maxine Dovere

Like many organizations and persons, the Israel Cancer Research Fund has a dream.  It is a simple dream – a world free of cancer.  Along that pathway, two of its funded researchers have achieved and received the   Reaching that goal is a pathway of unending complexity.

Cancer challenges all who it touches.  Patients are affected directly; family and friends, somewhat more obliquely, and those who challenge the dread disease and search for the methods of its defeat, face continuous battles – professionally and personally – in the war against this invasive enemy.

Researchers whose work is supported by the Israel Cancer Research Fund (ICRF) are among the most ingenious in this complex field.  They have developed drugs that, as Honoree Andrew Faas, featured speaker of the evening and recipient of the Beacon of Hope Award noted, have changed cancer from a death sentence into a chronic condition.  The Honoree noted that his own cancer was abated with the use of a drug discovered by an ISRC funded researcher

ICRF will soon reach its “Chai” anniversary.  Founded in 1975 to help stem Israel’s “brain drain” and encourage the growth and development of Israel as a research center in the battle against cancer, the organization provides funds for fellowships for Israeli M.D.’s and PhD’s. In addition to support of researchers, its agenda includes an international Board of Trustees, International Scientific Council, Scientific Review and Scientific Advisory Board.  Among its achievement was the receipt of the 2004 Noble Prize in Chemistry by two ICRF-supported scientists, Professors Aaron Ciechanover and Avram Hershkok, both of the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology.

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ICRF presented its Tower of Hope Awards at an emotionally charged gathering of survivors and supporters, March 10 in New York.  Helene Miller, widow of founder Dr. Daniel Miller, was awarded the Tower of Hope Honorary Founders Award.

Keeping the evening moving at a brisk pace was celebrity lawyer Ben Brafman, whose charged comments on multiple aspects, from the structure of the Tower of Hope award symbol to the benefit of having a Rabbi (Abadie) available to pronounce the blessings over the challah to the quality of an introducer’s voice, were notable.  .

Dr. David Roses, MD, FACS, the Whitehill Professor of Surgery and Oncology at New York University received the Dr. Daniel G. Miller Excellence in Medicine Award.  He is a prolific medical writer and a leader in the field of breast cancer research.  Introduced by friend, colleague and Gala Co-Chairperson Dr. Julie Mitnick, M.D., she noted that “he exemplifies excellence.”

The talents of the multi disciplined Rabbi Dr. Elie Abadie, M.D. place him in a unique peer group.  As the Senior Rabbi of the Edmond J. Safra Synagogue in New York, he leads one of the most vibrant Sephardic Congregations in the world.   His ministering is not limited to the heart and soul:  Rabbi Dr. Abadie is a practicing gastroenterologist and Medical Director of the Beth Israel Medical Center Williamsburg Family Health Center. In his remarks, the Rabbi recalled Albert Einstein’s admonition that Science without religion is lame; religion without science is blind.” His critical analysis of the statement and the philosophy supporting was a virtual d’var Torah on his understanding of “the amalgamation of science and faith” able to “see the hand of G-d in all of creation, and the science behind it.” He praised the work of ISRF using the words of a poem written by his wife, Esti.  Quite rabbinically, the Honoree called upon Hashem to “bless us all with long life, health and happiness.”  His were thoughts very much in tune with the mission of the ICRF.

The Israel Cancer Research Fund (www.icrfonline.org) is the largest private funder of cancer research in Israel. It has provided over 1750 grants to outstanding cancer researchers in Israel whose discoveries have changed cancer treatment internationally.   Research has developed state of the art therapies for multiple myeloma, a cancer of the bone marrow (Velcade) and several drugs that attack cancer at the cell or tumor level (Gleevec and Doxil).  At the DNA level, work with the p53 Gene and DNA Methylation have changed the understanding of cancer at the cellular level.

President of the Board of Trustees Bradly Goldhar spoke of the work past and the anticipated research breakthroughs funded by ICRF. Photo: Maxine Dovere

A moment of history: Mrs. Daniel G. Miller, receipient of the Tower of Hope Honorary Founders Award and widow of Dr. Daniel Miller, a founder of the Israel Cancer Research Fund, recalled the couple's first trip to Israel in 1969 and spoke of her hopes for the ICR's future. Photo: Maxine Dovere

Rabbi Elie Abadie, receipient of the Tower of Hope Humanitarian Award, spoke as a scientist and a rabbi, integrating both aspects of his essential way in an elegant and emotional acceptance speech. Photo: Maxine Dovere

Master of Ceremonies, famed trial lawyer Ben Brafman, kept the evening on a tight schedule. Photo: Maxine Dovere

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