Thursday, June 04, 2020

Gideon Askowitz of White Plains

Dr. Todd Zalut

Terrorists don’t discriminate, and Shayna Gold learned that firsthand. At 18, Shayna was enjoying her gap year in Israel until she found herself in the wrong place at the wrong time. A terrorist unleashed a barrage of bullets in Jerusalem and Shayna was shot in the chest. As the ambulance pulled away, the crew had a decision to make: a left turn up ahead to Shaare Zedek or straight for another seven minutes to Hadassah. The paramedic treating Shayna was the husband of a nurse on the cardiothoracic surgery team at Shaare Zedek. He called his wife from the ambulance to see if a surgeon was available right away. As he waited for an answer, Shayna’s  heart stopped beating and Shaare Zedek, the nearest hospital, became the only choice. At that moment, the nurse told her husband on the phone, “Come to Shaare Zedek! There’s a surgeon waiting for you!”

The paramedic performed CPR in the ambulance. The surgeon was waiting for them in the ER and performed an open heart procedure to plug a hole in Shayna’s heart and stop the bleeding, and then wheeled her into the operating room. Baruch Hashem, today Shayna is married with children and stays in touch with her saviors at Shaare Zedek.

Dr. Todd Zalut told that story in New York City last week in his keynote address at the annual Women’s Health Day sponsored by the American Committee for Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem. He spoke  to more than 250 women,  including a significant contingent from Westchester County and Riverdale. Dr. Zalut is director of the Weinstock Department of Emergency Medicine on the Fanya Gottesman Heller Floor. More than 70 percent of the patients injured in the current wave of terror attacks have been treated there. The department was recently rated the number one ER in the State of Israel by The Marker, Israel’s leading business newspaper.

The event, which took place at the New York Academy of Medicine on March 16, raised funds for the Shock and Trauma Unit, where the most seriously injured patients are seen. The internationally-respected unit is led by Dr. Ofer Merin, also the deputy director-general of Shaare Zedek.

“I derive great pleasure from helping to participate in a lucrative event such as Health Day to promote funds for the hospital in Israel,” explained Great Neck resident Randi Luxenberg, co-chair of Women’s Health Day, and chair of the event committee and vendors. “With the unfortunate terror situation in Israel and, sadly, more individuals needing ER/hospital care, our support is needed this year more than ever.”

Medical professionals who presented breakout sessions included therapist Bat Sheva Marcus, PhD, the founder and clinical director of Maze Women’s Sexual Health; Jill Blakeway, MS, LAC, founder and clinical director of the Yinova Center, discussing acupuncture and stress relief; Dr. Eric R. Mandel, director of Mandel Vision, discussing laser vision correction; and Dr. Christina M. Coyle, director of the Tropical Medicine Clinic at Jacobi Medical Center.

Dr. Zalut also announced at Women’s Health Day that Shaare Zedek plans to construct, equip and staff a neurological institute at a projected cost of $15 million. In cases of stroke, seconds count. In the quickly expanding greater Jerusalem area, speeding up access to treatments to clear blocked blood vessels in the brain will be the crucial difference for many patients who will be able to return to their normal activities instead of suffering a major disability. The institute will comprise a Stroke Diagnosis and Treatment Unit, an Interventional Neuroradiology Service and a Department of Neurosurgery.

Even kids are getting the message. Gideon Askowitz of White Plains, a seventh grader at SAR, joined his mother at the event to sell tickets for his bar mitzvah chesed raffle. Gideon is very close to reaching his goal of raising $18,000 for fun and educational items for the hospital’s new Nagel Family Pediatric Inpatient Pavilion. To help, go to

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By Chana Mayefsky

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