Dr. Stephen Kutner has retired as head of Jewish Healthcare International (JHI), the non-profit organization dedicated to increasing education and access to healthcare by sending Jewish medical professionals from Israel and the Diaspora to countries across the globe.

Stephen Kutner retiring as founding head of JHI

Gene Rubel, formerly JHI’s Director of Operations, will take over as Chief Executive Officer. He will continue to work with Dr. Roger Brick, Medical Director, and Dr. Jerry Kobrin, JHI Board Chair.

“Steve was the founder and has been the inspiration for JHI for the past 13 years,” Dr. Kobrin said. “We thank him for his service and dedication and hope he enjoys his retirement. We are delighted that Steve has agreed to continue to serve [the organization] by joining the Board.”

Dr. Kutner, an ophthalmologist, created JHI in 1999 in direct response to the massive immigration of Jewish communities to Israel after the demise of the Soviet Union. Project Vision, the doctor’s original organization, could only focus on eye care and screenings for the 900,000 immigrants in need, and while Israel offered medical care to all citizens, the country was not prepared for the influx of new residents that occurred at the end of the 20th century.

Subsequently, the doctor sold his ophthalmology practice and extended his services to general health issues, beginning with an enthusiastically received project in Ukraine. Since then, JHI has been active in Israel, Haiti and Ethiopia in addition to its activities in the former Soviet Union, and more than 400 healthcare professionals have volunteered to participate in its programs to date. 

The organization will surely miss Dr. Kutner – who was selected as one of five finalists in the Jewish Federations of North America’s 2010 Jewish Community Hero of the Year award – but remains in good hands as Rubel takes over. The latter has worked closely with Kutner as since September 2011 and brings a business background in international settings as well as an in-depth healthcare understanding to JHI.

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 Editor’s note: For more information on Jewish Healthcare International, visit jewishhealthcareinternational.com.