President Reuven Rivlin and Health Minister Ya’acov Litzman each reiterated their condemnation of violence against doctors and nurses, saying that neither physical nor verbal violence can be tolerated, and it must be put to an end.
Litzman also urged that harsh penalties be given those who abuse medical staff.
The two were among the speakers at the second annual prize awarding ceremony in memory of Danielle Sonnenfeld, who in March, 2015, was killed in a traffic collision on her way home to Ra’anana.
She was 20 years old and had dreamed of becoming a doctor. As a member of a haredi family, she did civilian national service, working initially with children with cancer at Schneider Children’s Hospital, and later with youth at risk in Acre. At Schneider, doctors, nurses and patients regarded her as an angel. She was a pretty girl, with laughing eyes and a captivating smile who always exuded optimism, empathy and compassion.
When she spoke to the young patients about conquering their illnesses, it was never “you” it was “We are going to get over this…” Following her death, her family decided that the best way to honor and preserve her memory was to create a foundation in her name which would sponsor projects that were dear to her heart, and which she herself would have initiated, had she lived.
To date, said her father Moti Sonnenfeld, at the awards ceremony at the President’s Residence on Wednesday, there are 40 such projects in the spheres of health, education and social welfare – all of which bear Danielle’s name as part of her legacy.
The Danielle Prize, Healing with a Heart, was awarded for the second consecutive year, and will be awarded annually in perpetuity to doctors and nurses who rise beyond their professions and give of themselves to patients.
Prior to his address to a hall that was packed with CEOs of hospitals across the country as well as heads of oncology departments and people connected with the Danielle Foundation, Rivlin congratulated moderator Yehoram Gaon who was named earlier in the day as one of the beacon lighters at the opening of the Israel Independence Day celebrations.
Turning to Gaon Rivlin said: “Our dear Yehoram, we were excited together with you when you were chosen to light a beacon for Independence Day, but we were not surprised that a native son of Jerusalem was given the honor.” Rivlin was alluding to the song sung by Gaon in the film Kazablan in which the refrain is Le Mi, Le Mi yesh yoter Kavod? (Who has the most honor?) With regard to the medical honorees, Rivlin said that medicine is not just a profession – it’s an art – the art of humanity. An excellent doctor is not just a top professional, stated Rivlin, but a physician who treats the patient and not only the disease. Quoting Rambam, Rivlin said that every patient should be seen as a special person. “Doctors who treat patients with their whole hearts, are not only top professionals, but exceptional human beings,” said Rivlin, adding that the prize winners “are an example and an inspiration to all of us.”
Litzman praised the honorees for doing “holy work” and said that the prize is a form of recognition for their devotion and the good they are doing.
Recognition for good deeds is one of the most important things in life he said, and regretted that it is too often forgotten or overlooked in Israel “especially in political circles.”
Prizes were awarded to: Prof. Dina Ben Yehuda of Hadassah University Medical in Jerusalem’s Ein Kerem; Dr. Talia Golan, director of Preliminary Clinical Studies at Sheba Medical Center, Tel Hashomer; Dr. Shai Yagne, director of Hematology at Poriya Medical Center; Dr. Avivit Neuman-Orbach, senior doctor of the Oncology Unit at the Department of Urology, Rambam Medical Center; Dr. Hila Magen, senior doctor in the Hematology-Oncology Unit at the Rabin Medical Center-Beilinson Campus, Petah Tikva; Prof. Nathan Cherny, director of Cancer Pain and Palliative Medicine Service and Oncology Institute at Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem; Asnat Avinaim, executive secretary, Oncology Institute Poriya Medical Center; Yael Orbach, a nurse in the Oncology Institute Kaplan Medical Center in Rehovot; Maya Krikheli, a nurse in the Oncology Unit at Sheba Medical Center; Miriam Pinhas, a nurse specialist and treatment coordinator in Oncology Outpatient Clinic at Meir Medical Center Kfar Saba; Ronit Gold, clinical counselor and co-ordinating instructor in the Oncology Outpatient Unit at Sourasky Medical Center; and Rachel Huss Oncology Day Care Nurse at Shaare Zedek. A prize not previously announced was given to Litzman in appreciation of his willingness to listen to the needs of the various medical centers and to act in accordance with their needs.