Actress Invokes Einstein's Vision

By Masha Leon

Published May 25, 2007, issue of May 25, 2007.
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“As Albert [Einstein] said, ‘If you’re going to do something with your life, be a humanitarian,” said film star Sharon Stone — who with Alma Johnson Powell (wife of Colin), Princess Yasmin Aga Khan and Lynn Sherr — was honored, at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University National Women’s Division’s “Spirit of Achievement” luncheon, April 26. “I can name-drop,” Stone said, gleefully recounting how in Cannes she’d been asked to stand in for Elizabeth Taylor, which led to her becoming involved in the American Foundation for AIDS Research’s campaign. Stone’s motto: “Life is a service job.”

“If the Army wanted you to have a wife, they would have issued one,” joshed Alma Powell as recalled the difficulties of being a young Army wife after she married Colin Powell, who rose to become chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and also U.S. Secretary of State. “My husband, Colin, served six presidents,” she said. She credited her parents, “who were my role models. My mother founded the Girl Scouts of Alabama; my grandmother was a case worker with the Red Cross and taught classes in childbearing.” Trumpeting the need “to protect our future, the fruits of our lives — our children who have lower life expectations than our generation,” Powell expressed dismay that “35% of America’s students do not graduate from high school” and that “among industrial nations, we’re 15 out of 19 on math tests.”

The princess Aga Khan, daughter of film star Rita Hayworth and Prince Aly Aga Khan, has dedicated her life to finding a cure for Alzheimer’s, “a global pandemic with 28 million victims worldwide.” She founded the annual Rita Hayworth Gala in memory of her mother, “who got Alzheimer’s when she was in her 50s.” To date, the gala has raised more than $47 million for research.

She credited Dr. Peter Davis of the Albert Einstein Medical College, “who confirmed [Hayworth’s] condition after her passing [by using] samples of tissue.”

“My role model was Brenda Starr, a cartoon character,” declared honoree Sherr, award-winning broadcast TV journalist and currently correspondent on ABC’s news show “20/20.” “She was courageous, she got her story, she got her man.”

Sherr disclosed: “We all have troubled times in our lives. My husband died; I got colon cancer; I’m a 20-year survivor,” then recalled her early struggle to make it in the news arena. Repeatedly told: “We don’t hire girls,” Sherr eventually got a job as a “clip desk girl.” “They handed the same job to a guy, but he was [called] the junior editor.” Proud of the current role of women in broadcast news, trailblazer Sherr emphasized: “Without women in the newsroom, there would be no stories about breast cancer, women abuse and other issues…. I’m about getting the bad guys, shaking things up, occasionally saving a life.”

The Lizette H. Sarnoff Award for Volunteer Services was presented to Lois Pope, whose wide-ranging philanthropic projects include founding Leaders in Furthering Education . LIFE enabled Magen David Adom (Israel’s Red Cross) to establish LIFE ambulance response units that donated clean water system to a Guatemalan village following hurricane Mitch and to support Congregation HaHa Shem for the Sudan Genocide Response Team. Luncheon chair Susan Mark lauded corporate sponsor Georgio Armani, whose $50,000 donation is earmarked to support women’s cancer research at Albert Einstein in. Since 1954, the National Women’s Division has raised more than $100 million for research.


T’was an occasion to raise glasses of bronfn (Yiddish for whiskey) in a l’chaim! to life! at the May l Charles Bronfman 2007 Prize ceremony, held at the American Museum of Natural History, in honor of Dr. Amitai Ziv. This was not only good news from Israel — with repercussions that resonate with the imperative to “be a blessing unto the world” — but also a welcome antidote to a literary and comedic trend of animus directed at Jewish parents.

Stephen Bronfman lauded his father, Charles Bronfman, as “a visionary” and role model in “nurturing the talents of young people and creating opportunities for them to explore their heritage and their future.” He recalled “my grandfather, Sam Bronfman, inspired Dad with a strong belief that we must remain committed to pioneering visions, ‘for where there is no vision, the people perish,’ a quote etched on his gravestone.”

As a result of his training as a combat pilot in the Israeli air force, Ziv, recipient of the $100,0000 Bronfman prize, founded the Israel Center for Medical Simulation (MSR) at Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer, Israel’s largest and most comprehensive medical institution. Ziv has become a world leader in applying simulation techniques to improve communication skills, judgment of health care professionals and responses in emergency settings to help reduce medical errors and save lives. The press notes state:

“Consider, in the U.S. alone as many as 98,000 people die each year from medical errors, more than the number who die annually from car accidents, breast cancer and AIDS combined, and the equivalent of a Boeing 747 crashing each day.” Dan Meridor, former Israeli minister of justice, minister of finance and member of the Knesset — and one of the prize judges–amplified: “MSR medical training… does not cost a life. It is a safer, more humane environment.… No Israeli doctor goes to the battlefield before being trained in MSR at Sheba. It is now sought after by medical schools all over the world.”

“Simulation-based medical education exposes professionals to extreme, even nightmare scenarios, where they can err without endangering real patients,” Ziv explained. “These simulated experiences implant a déjà vu memory that can be instantly recalled and safely applied in life-threatening and emotionally charged clinical situations, enabling health professionals to make mistakes in a safe environment.” On a personal note, Ziv added: “I was born the youngest of four to idealistic Zionist parents… who made aliya from Montreal in order to contribute to the birth of Israel… which I was privileged to serve and lucky enough to be exposed to the values and standards of its air force.
His two older children, Inbar and Ofir, presently serve in the Israel Defense Forces; the youngest, Lior (who was present), is about to be inducted into the army.

Among the guests were Daniel Sullivan,consul general of Canada, and his wife; Rosalie Silberman Abella, a member of the Supreme Court of Canada, and a prize judge, transformed Bronfman to “Bronfperson” in keeping with the family’s thrust as global visionaries triangulating their impact on “gentle Canada, feisty America and intrepid Israel;” Ze’ev Rotstein, Ziv’s nominator and director general of Sheba Medical Center; Dr. William Dunn, medical director of Mayo Clinic Multidisciplinary Simulation Center, located in Minnesota; Gerald Moses from the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command; Elaine Wolfensohn, who stood in for her husband, James Wolfensohn, former World Bank president, special envoy for Gaza Disengagement for the Quartet on the Middle East and one of the three prize judges, as well as Jay Feinberg, founder and executive director of Gift of Life. In 2004, Feinberg was the first recipient of the Bronfman prize. It was noted that in the last three years, Gift of Life has become one of the world’s most effective donor registries, facilitating bone marrow transplants for 1,500 cancer patients around the world and increasing the chance of finding a Jewish match to 70% from 5%!

A NEW YORK MOMENT: Standing on a Long Island Rail Road platform, waiting for a train to Manhattan, I admire a beautifully beaded lilac sari worn by an elderly Indian woman. I compliment the woman. She smiles. A young man in khaki pants and white shirt tells me, “My mother is visiting from Bombay.” I nod. “You mean Mumbai.” He’s impressed that I know the city’s current name and volunteers that he’s studying at Long Island University.

“Do you plan to return to India?” I ask. “Yes.” I jest: “A reverse brain-drain.” He asks where I am from. “I’m an American but was born in Poland, adding…. We had our own Raj — the Russians.” He begins to speak to me in perfectly articulated Polish! “How come you speak “Polish?” I ask, amazed. “I live in Greenpoint [Brooklyn]; many don’t speak English.” “Dowidziena,”he says as the train pulls into the station. Only in America!

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