New York City’s Charles and Seryl Kushner had not even heard of Jerusalem’s Shaare Zedek Medical Center until a decade ago. Now they are donating $18 million – in addition to a previous $2 million – to the growing hospital, which will name the whole campus opposite Mount Herzl in Jerusalem in their honor.
“I first heard of SZMC from a friend,” Charles Kushner, a real estate entrepreneur and philanthropist, told The Jerusalem Post.
He has visited Israel, and the hospital, about a dozen times since then.
The couple, who have four children and 10 grandchildren, announced their major contribution in New York recently to mark their 40th wedding anniversary and 60th birthdays.
They are set to come to Jerusalem for the campus-naming ceremony at the end of August.
“I would definitely recommend to donors that they give to SZMC,” he said.
The power couple haven’t even stipulated for what the money should be used.
“We hope we will be worthy. We left the decision on what to spend it for in the hospital to director-general Prof. Jonathan Halevy.
He constantly updates us on all kinds of projects.
I am sure it will be used for the most important projects,” Kushner said.
The financially stable Jerusalem institution, which delivers more babies a year – 20,000 – than any other medical center in the world, recently opened the first phase of its Next Generation building next to the main building where it moved in the late 1970s.
Its original building, opened in 1902 in Jaffa Road, is occupied by the Israel Broadcasting Authority.
“We have given money before to some hospitals in the US and Israel, but never such a major gift,” he said. “I chose SZMC because I was impressed with the work they do and their ideology of treating anyone regardless of religion, anyone who needs help,” he said, adding that “you have Arab and Jewish doctors working in collaboration.”
He was also touched to hear the tragic story of the hospital’s former head of emergency medicine, Dr. David Applebaum, who was murdered in a 2003 terror attack in the capital along with his daughter Naava on the night before her wedding.
He recalled that one of his grandchildren was even treated at SZMC a few years ago on a trip to Masada; “I held his hand, but he slipped and started to bleed. He got some stitches at Shaare Zedek.”