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May 1, 2017 1:52 pm

Iranian-Jewish Fashion Designers Talk About ‘Reality’ of Antisemitism During Acceptance of Leadership Award

avatar by Shiryn Solny

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Abraham, left, and Saul Maslavi. Photo: Presley Ann for Patrick McMullan.

The Iranian-Jewish brothers behind a global fashion company talked last Wednesday about antisemitism as they received a leadership award at the American Friends of the Soroka Medical Center’s fifth annual gala in New York.

Iranian-born Saul and Abraham Maslavi — the owners of Jovani Fashions — were honored with the Fashion Industry Leadership Award at the benefit dinner — which took place at The Pierre hotel in Manhattan. During their acceptance speech, Saul Maslavi discussed the discrimination he faced from his peers when he attending boarding school in England as a youngster.

“As a foreigner and Jew I was the target of much antisemitism and abuse,” he said. “Thank God that was short-lived…[but] discrimination is part of the Jewish reality. This is why I’m a firm Zionist and I believe in protecting the State of Israel. We should always help our Jewish homeland and contribute as much as we can.”

Wednesday’s event raised over $400,000 for the Soroka Medical Center’s women’s health projects, including Soroka’s Breast Health Center, Negev Center for Eating Disorders, and the Saban Birth & Maternity Center, a spokesperson told The Algemeiner. The evening included a fashion show of designs by Jovani, a family-owned business that the Maslavi brothers’ late father, Jacob, founded in 1980.

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Abraham Maslavi said his father’s vision for the fashion brand connects with efforts of the Soroka Medical Center.

“[My father’s] main goal was to create gowns that will make every woman feel good about themselves,” he said. “Jovani gowns are about [promoting] the inner beauty and confidence of every woman, just as Soroka Medical Center makes everyone feel good by bringing them health and happiness.”

The other honorees at the gala were Sonia Gardner — president, managing partner and co-founder of Avenue Capital Group — and the late David Dubinsky, who helped establish the Soroka Medical Center together with the late first Prime Minister of Israel David Ben-Gurion.

Located in Beersheba, the hospital treated 6.5 million people last year, according to American Friends of the Soroka Medical Center. Wednesday’s event highlighted the fact that the medical facility has cared for patients from a diverse range cultures and backgrounds.

“Soroka gives us hope that our world will grow from acceptance and unity,” Abraham Maslavi noted.

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