Skip To Content
JEWISH. INDEPENDENT. NONPROFIT.
The Schmooze

Benjamin Brafman Toasts Dr. Howard Cedar at Israel Cancer Research Fund Gala

“Am delighted to see that there is no height requirement to be Consul General of Israel,” joshed criminal lawyer Benjamin Brafman, emcee at the September 13th Israel Cancer Research Fund Tower of Hope Gala, as he introduced Israel’s newly appointed consul to New York Dani Dayan who delivered a brief address to the 300 guests at Gotham Hall praising the guests for their support of ICRF’s work.

Acclaiming “ICRF [as] the largest voluntary charitable organization in North America supporting cancer research in Israel for the benefit of all humankind,” Brafman introduced guest speaker Howard Cedar M.D., Ph.D. who held the guests spellbound with his spin on the latest in cancer research. Recipient of a number of prestigious prizes—including the Wolf Prize in Medicine (2008), the Emet Prize in Biology (2009), the Rothschild Prize (2012) and recipient on September 6th of Columbia University’s Horowitz Prize for achievement in biological and biochemical research [first awarded in 1967—43 of whose winners went on to Nobel prizes], Cedar had Brafman gushing: “Dr. Cedar—my number is on you!” Cedar declared: “I am not representing myself here…I’m here in the name of my colleagues in Israel—devoted scientists who have given their whole lives to solve the secret of cancer.”

“I want to thank you for bringing me here to the U .S.,” said Cedar. “[T o] my old home, my incubator in the 1960’s where I grew up and also want to thank ICRF for their wisdom in planning this event exactly one day after the world premiere of our son Joseph’s new ‘must see’ movie “Norman” which stars Richard Gere, Michael Sheen and Steve Buscemiwhich just premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival.“

Cedar informed: “After decades of using chemotherapy scientists decided that this method of killing cells was too general, non specific and began to search for ways to target cells ushering in an entirely new approach…. Israeli scientists with the support from ICRF made unbelievable major contributions to this ongoing effort…. Israeli scientists laid down the basic work behind the creation of the miracle drug Gleevec for leukemia…Receptin for breast cancer and our own Nobel Prize winners [Avram] Hershko and [Aaron] Ciechanover who made Velcade possible for prostate cancer” and more…ICRF is unique in its approach; it has funded projects using flies, worms, fish, mice—all in an attempt to understand how cells tick… And nothing is too esoteric for them to support.”

Apropos “deciphering the underpinnings of cancer”, Cedar cited “an esoteric project” at understanding how our genetic code is read and interpreted in the cells of our bodies. “Each of us has a book with all our genes that we received from our parents which serves as an instruction manual. In addition to the [DNA] text there is a system of annotation, footnotes that mark the text…. Where is this lightning coming from? Israeli scientists have grown out of a culture of seeking knowledge…from the time of the Talmud we have learned to ask question…how to criticize and dig deeper…how to give credit to those who came before us and build on their knowledge…to work toward Tikun Olam—make the world a better place…. Research thrives when society wants it…values it…is willing to give up other things to promote research…. This is a culture deeply ingrained in the Jewish People upon which ICRF is built.”

The evening also honored Kenneth E. Goodman, Chairman, Israel Cancer Research Fund Co-Chairman ICRF New York, who established the Annual Barbara S, Goodman Scientific Awards & Donor Recognition Evening in memory of his wife who contracted pancreatic cancer and had been under the care of [once longtime active in ICRF] Dr. Yashar Hirshaut. To date ICRF has provided more than $59 million to support cancer researchers, more than 2300 projects in 24 different Israeli institutions.

I hope you appreciated this article. Before you go, I’d like to ask you to please support the Forward’s award-winning, nonprofit journalism during this critical time.

Now more than ever, American Jews need independent news they can trust, with reporting driven by truth, not ideology. We serve you, not any ideological agenda.

At a time when other newsrooms are closing or cutting back, the Forward has removed its paywall and invested additional resources to report on the ground from Israel and around the U.S. on the impact of the war, rising antisemitism and the protests on college campuses.

Readers like you make it all possible. Support our work by becoming a Forward Member and connect with our journalism and your community.

Make a gift of any size and become a Forward member today. You’ll support our mission to tell the American Jewish story fully and fairly. 

— Rachel Fishman Feddersen, Publisher and CEO

Join our mission to tell the Jewish story fully and fairly.

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.