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.

Saving Lives

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 told eJP: “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, added: “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.

About: 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.