A year after Brad Rosen participated in the Atlanta-based Frank Family Foundation mission to Poland and Israel, Bill Steuer was on the same mission trip and toured the Save a Child’s Heart center at the Wolfson Medical Center in Israel.
Their connection started there.
Inspired by his first trip to Israel in 2017, Rosen launched the Atlanta chapter of SACH, an international nonprofit providing pediatric cardiac care to children in developing countries, regardless of the child’s religion, gender or nationality. As a result of the new chapter, the Frank mission chose to specifically tour the Save a Child’s Heart center last year.
On Feb. 7, Rosen and Steuer co-chaired the second-annual Heart to Heart event to raise money to pay for children’s surgeries. The goal was $45,000, which equates to three pediatric surgeries. They raised $60,000. “But my personal goal is saving four hearts,” Steuer said. Surgeries are performed in Israel, where the physicians donate their time and the cost is only $15,000 per surgery.
“I was very fortunate to be on the Frank trip in April 2018,” Steur said. “I had never been to Israel and realized how little I knew about Israel. It was a life-changing event, especially seeing SACH. My newly opened eyes got to see that Israel does this kind of thing, even for kids from Gaza.”
Dr. Sion Houri, one of the founders of SACH in 1995, spoke at the Heart to Heart program at Atlanta’s Spring Hall, which drew more than 250 people. SACH is celebrating its 25th anniversary after helping about 5,000 children in 59 countries in Africa, South America, Europe, Asia and throughout the Middle East. In addition to providing cardiac surgeries for children from abroad who are brought to Israel, SACH offers a comprehensive training program within Israel for doctors and nurses from developing countries, and it leads surgical and teaching missions to other countries. So far, more than 120 medical teams have been trained in Israel.
Houri, who was born in Tunisia and studied medicine at Hadassah Medical School in Jerusalem, is director of the pediatric intensive care unit at Wolfson Medical Center. “We have operated on children from Ethiopia, Moldova, Congo and Tanzania,” among other countries, said Houri, who was making his first trip to Atlanta.
According to Steuer, SACH has saved 27 hearts in the Congo alone. “Fifty percent of the funds go to Africa, with the rest of the money going to the rest of the world,” he said.
In addition to the Heart to Heart event for adults, the Atlanta chapter of SACH sponsors an annual basketball game for teenage boys in seventh to 12th grades. The next Play Your Heart Out event will be in August. Last year the event raised $22,000. Getting his sons involved was important to Rosen. “I wanted to teach my kids to help give back. This gives me a way to do something with my kids,” he said.
And, after Steuer’s life-changing trip to Israel with the Frank mission, he decided to hold his third daughter’s bat mitzvah in Israel in 2020.
Steuer and Rosen are among 85 alumni of the annual Frank mission that was established by Atlantans Larry and Lois Frank. “My parents’ vision is based on the realization that there was a gap in leadership between their generation and mine,” said son, Isaac Frank, who leads the missions. “They sensed an apathy about Israel and being Jewish and felt the need to remind people of why they are Jewish.”
The fully subsidized trips are for Atlantans – about 15 for each mission – who are under no obligations. “There are no requirements,” Frank said. “It’s a gift in hopes that they’ll pay it forward. It’s fully subsidized, but not free. We want them to invest themselves in whatever is important to them. They have to find their passion. What we have found is that people invest in other people, and the alumni of our mission support each other.”
Rosen’s pay it forward was starting the SACH chapter in Atlanta. He learned about the organization from Rabbi Spike Anderson of Temple Emanu-El, who helped start the Los Angeles chapter.
A few more recent Frank mission alumni attended the Heart to Heart event for SACH.
Frank called the mission alumni “game changers. We feel we can gauge their impact in the community. There’s not a Jewish organization that doesn’t have a fingerprint on it from one of our mission alumni.”