Inspired by 2017 Laureate Anish Kapoor, philanthropist Morris Kahn joins the Genesis initiative to fund hearing restoration treatment for Syrian children at Ziv Medical Center in Safed
September 25, 2017 – Today the Genesis Prize Foundation (GPF) announced a six-figure grant to Ziv Medical Center in Safed, Israel, to fund the treatment of hearing loss among Syrian children brought from conflict areas to Israel for diagnostic examination, clinical treatments, surgery and rehabilitation.
This pilot grant is part of GPF’s global initiative to aid refugee causes and encourage other Jewish foundations and philanthropists to expand their engagement in a humanitarian effort to alleviate the suffering of refugees from Syria and other conflict zones. The focus on alleviating the plight of refugees was chosen by the 2017 Genesis Prize Laureate Anish Kapoor, who at the time of his selection said: “Jews understand the horror of being forced from our homes. Jews understand, perhaps more painfully than anyone else, how it feels to be ‘the others.’ I want to show young Jews that together we can make a real difference for the displaced.”
Kapoor added: “I believe the refugee crisis is the defining challenge of our age, and all of us, Jews and non-Jews, have a moral obligation not to be silent in the face of this great tragedy.”
As all the other Genesis Prize laureates, the renowned sculptor and human rights activist Kapoor will “re-gift” his entire $1 million award. Specific grants and initiatives to be supported by Kapoor and GPF will be announced between October and June, when the Genesis Prize will honor its 2018 laureate.
Ziv Medical Center is located in Safed, Israel, near the border with Syria. The high-tech medical center has extensive experience treating wounded Syrian civilians, including children and infants. The Genesis Prize grant will pay for direct expenses related to treating hearing loss among Syrian children. Statistics indicate that one out of every three Syrian children in the combat area examined by Ziv’s hospital staff suffers from hearing loss. Hearing loss negatively affects the child’s health and development, reducing chances for a healthy, functional life later on. Timely and appropriate medical treatment can preserve hope for a better future.
Ziv Medical Center developed specialized medical protocols to assist Syrian children. These include a full diagnostic examination and specialized hearing tests for each child. Clinical treatments, surgery and rehabilitation will then be provided to each patient as required. In addition, all child patients will receive individually adapted, state-of-the-art hearing devices. The current cease-fire in the area close to the Syria-Israeli border provides an opportunity to begin treatment immediately and achieve tangible results in the near term.
The director of Ziv Hospital, Dr. Salman Zarka, will oversee implementation of the Genesis Prize grant. Dr. Zarka, who is the first Druze to head a major hospital in Israel, said: “We have treated more than 1,000 Syrians of all ages who needed our help over the past four years. I feel lucky to have the opportunity with my staff at the Ziv Medical Center to save lives and provide medical support for Syrian casualties during their time of need. It’s really important for me as a physician, as an Israeli, and as a human being. I am also extremely grateful to Anish Kapoor and the Genesis Prize Foundation for shedding the light on the important work we do. With their help, we can make the world a better place for a lot more Syrian children.”
Other Philanthropists Join
The grant to the Ziv Medical Center is being made in partnership with Morris Kahn. An innovative and prolific philanthropist and entrepreneur, Mr. Kahn was inspired by the 2017 Genesis Prize theme and felt it was important to support the refugee cause. He said: “Anish Kapoor’s dedication of his Genesis Prize to helping Syrian and other refugees is an amazing humanitarian gesture, and this can only be a lesson, for us as Israelis, and for us as Jews. We as a people have suffered. We know what it is to have our lives destroyed, we know what it is to try and survive. In my mind, it’s a humanitarian imperative and a privilege to be able to do this.”
Stan Polovets, chairman and co-founder of the Genesis Prize Foundation, said: “We are very pleased to partner on this project with Morris Kahn and are immensely grateful for his generosity. We Jews have for centuries suffered as refugees. Now it’s time to help others. The brutal civil war in Syria has created nearly 5 million refugees, many of them children. The Genesis Prize Foundation invites other donors, Jews and people of other faiths, to support the great work being done by the Ziv Medical Center and other organizations that aim to alleviate the suffering of the wounded, especially children.” Polovets added that GPF is working with Ziv to make it easier for other foundations and philanthropists to support this medical center. Individuals and organizations interested in contributing can visit the Ziv Medical Center donation page here: http://www.ziv.org.il/?CategoryID=2580.
Natan Sharansky, Chairman of the Jewish Agency and Chairman of the Genesis Prize Selection Committee, said: “The Genesis Prize works to instill and develop the sense of pride in being Jewish. There is no doubt that helping Syrian refugees, helping wounded children and women, is something extremely important in this context. Amidst the horrors of this war, an Israeli hospital provides a safe place where wounded Syrians, women and children, can come and receive medical treatment like no other place in the world. This is a very Jewish thing to do. And I am glad that the Genesis Prize continues to inspire such initiatives.”
About the Genesis Prize
The Genesis Prize is a global award created to celebrate Jewish achievement and contribution to humanity. Launched in 2013, the Prize is financed through a permanent endowment of $100 million established by the Genesis Prize Foundation (GPF). The Prize operates as a partnership among The Genesis Prize Foundation, the Prime Minister’s Office of the State of Israel, and The Office of the Chairman of the Executive of the Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI).
The Genesis Prize Foundation encourages the laureates of the Genesis Prize to re-gift the proceeds of the award to support philanthropic initiatives they are passionate about. Laureates to date include Michael Bloomberg, Michael Douglas, Yitzhak Perlman and Anish Kapoor.
About Morris Kahn
Morris Kahn is a South African-born businessman and philanthropist who made aliyah in 1956. An active humanitarian, Morris Kahn has supported a wide variety of philanthropic causes. A diver and marine enthusiast, he is the founder of the Coral World Underwater Observatory in Eilat and around the world, and the founder of Zalul, a non-profit focused on cleanup and preservation of the seas and rivers in Israel. Working through research and activism, the organization leads a number of initiatives such as a campaign against plastic pollution of the marine environment. He is also the founder of LEAD, created to help develop the next generation of leaders. Kahn also funded stem cell research, various educational programs for children, and a therapeutic riding camp for the disabled. He traveled to Ethiopia to establish an eye clinic where hundreds of cataract and trachoma surgeries are performed in the Omo Valley. He is a major donor of Save a Child’s Heart, and today serves as the Chairman of Space IL, to land the first Israeli flag on the moon. For his contribution to Israel and the Jewish people Morris Kahn has been named honorary president of the Maccabiah Games (also known as the “Jewish Olympics”).
About Ziv Medical Center
Ziv Medical Center is a government-owned hospital, affiliated with the Bar Ilan University Galilee Faculty of Medicine, which opened in Safed in 2011. Due to its proximity to the Lebanese and Syrian borders, throughout its history, Ziv has treated civilian victims of hostilities and Israeli soldiers.
The hospital has a longstanding working relationship with the IDF. It is the policy of the Israeli government to offer treatment to Syrian civilians who are brought from the border. This allows the hospital to accept adults and child patients wounded in Syria and provide them free medical treatment.