Israel President Reuven (Ruvi) Rivlin and wife Nechama hosted on Wednesday the ‘Danielle Prize - Healing with a Heart’ Awards Ceremony of 2017. The Prize, presented this year for the second consecutive year to 12 male and female doctors and nurses employed in hospital oncology units in Israel, acknowledges the efforts of hospital medical personnel who distinguish themselves in the compassion and care that they bestow upon their patients. The Prize is awarded in loving memory of Danielle Sonnenfeld, a volunteer in the Oncology Unit at Schneider Children Hospital who perished two years ago in a tragic car accident. 

During the course of the evening, a special prize was likewise awarded to Dr. Patch Adams, an American physician who pioneered the concept of hospital clowns to bring joy to suffering patients. Adams gained international fame after his name appeared as the title of the 1998 Hollywood film Patch Adams starring late actor Robin Williams. The film was based on Adams' life and views on medicine. The Danielle Sonnenfeld Foundation awarded Dr. Adams the Danielle Prize in appreciation of his lifelong endeavors on behalf of patients which promote the cause of healing with the heart around the world.

Among those attending the ceremony in the President’s House were Minister of Health Rabbi Yaakov Litzman; Mr. Elio Moti Sonnenfeld, founder and director of the foundation which he established in memory of his daughter Danielle; and Professor Dina Ben Yehudah who spoke on behalf of the winners.  Also in attendance were Israel’s Chief Rabbi David Lau; Minister of Education Naftali Bennett; Minister of Justice Ayelet Shaked; former ministers Eli Yishai and Professor Daniel Hirschkowitz; and MKs Revital Swid and Yaakov Asher, to name a few.

“Being a good doctor is more than just understanding the science of medicine; it’s understanding the science of the human being,” President Rivlin expressed at the event. “Medicine, advanced as it may be, that lacks compassion, devotion, goodness of heart and love of mankind—is sorely deficient. A good doctor is more than just a skilled professional; he is one who manifests personal integrity and dedication. A good doctor is one who treats the patient, not just the illness. It was Maimonides who said that the illness of the body and soul must be treated jointly, and a good doctor views each patient as one and only, special.”

After receiving his prize, Dr. Patch Adams shared, “I can't imagine a prize more beautiful than a prize given for compassion. It is a thing that could save the World. It is a great honor to be called ‘compassionate’. I've clowned in 83 countries. People hunger for love all around the Globe. For me, clowning is a trick to get love close. As a clown I can do things that people are too frightened of love to allow you to do. According to my experience - love and compassion can cure, they are real pain relievers.  At the very early age Danielle realized that the true wealth of life is to give love. It is great when you give love to someone so in need of it. And she found it out at a very young age - before she was 20. It is truly remarkable”.

Danielle’s father, Mr. Elio Moti Sonnenfeld, noted that “We are now in the midst of Sefirat Ha’Omer (the days between the Jewish holidays of Passover and Shavuot), when we mourn the deaths of the 24,000 disciples of the great sage Rabi Akiva who were punished for their lack of respect to one another. These disciples were the spiritual crème de la crème of their generation. In a respect, the winners of the Danielle Prize offer the spiritual rectification for this omission. I’m certain that Danielle is watching all of you from Above, delighting in your devotion, and praying for your continued success.”

Full list of 2017 ‘Danielle Prize - Healing With a Heart’ awardees: Dr. Avivit Neuman-Orbach, Senior doctor in Rambam Hospital’s Oncology Unit; Prof. Dina Ben-Yehuda, Director of Hematology Unit in Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem; Dr. Hila Magen, Senior doctor in Hemato-Oncology Unit in Beilinson Hospital; Dr. Talia Golan, Medical director of Preliminary Clinical Studies, Sheba Medical Center, Tel Hashomer; Prof. Nathan Cherny, Director of the Cancer Pain and Palliative Medicine Service and Oncology Institute in Shaare Zedek Medical Center; Dr. Shai Yagne, Director of Hematology Unit, Poriya Hospital; Asnat Avinaim, Executive secretary in Oncology Institute and clinical study coordinator, Poriyya Hospital; Yael Orbach,  Nurse in the Oncology Institute of the Kaplan Hospital; Maya Krikheli, Nurse in Oncology Unit, Sheba Medical Center, Tel Hashomer; Miriam Pinhas, Nurse specialist and treatment coordinator in Oncology Outpatient Clinic, Meir Hospital; Ronit Gold, Clinical counselor and coordinating instructor in the Oncology Outpatient Unit, Ichilov Hospital; Rachel Huss, Nurse in Oncology Day-care ward, Shaare Zedek Medical Center.