Winners of the Danielle Sonnenfeld Prize announced after 800,000 Israelis vote

The prize for outstanding medical professionals was set up in memory of mensch Danielle Sonnenfeld, who died before completing her dream of becoming a doctor.

Danielle Sonnenfeld Prize ceremony, September 2023. (photo credit: SHLOMI COHEN)
Danielle Sonnenfeld Prize ceremony, September 2023.
(photo credit: SHLOMI COHEN)

Almost 800,000 Israelis took the time out to vote for their favorite personal physician or pediatrician who reflected values of dedication, humanity and professionalism; 10,000 voted for this year’s 14 winners of the Danielle Sonnenfeld Prize for Medicine with a Heart. 

The dazzling, moving ceremony was attended by hundreds of people at the Jerusalem International Convention Center including the directors of all four health funds.

Remembering the life of Danielle Sonnenfeld

The whole audience came to honor the memory of the brilliant and beautiful, blue-eyed Danielle, who tragically was killed in a car accident in March 2015 just before she was about to begin studying medicine at Ben-Gurion University’s Health Faculty. Having earned a near-perfect psychometric score, she never fulfilled her dream of becoming a physician. 

Born in Rio de Janeiro in 1995, she came to Israel with her family when she was eight-and-a-half years old; when she began her lifelong passion of writing poetry.

Upon graduation from high school, she showed her extraordinary empathy and love of sick and injured children and adults during her national service and she continued to volunteer beyond her national service in the oncology wards at Schneider Children’s Medical Center in Petah Tikva – even sticking needles into her own arm to show it “doesn’t hurt much” when a young patient feared syringes and visiting the grave every month of a lone soldier named Max who died of cancer. 

 Danielle Sonnenfeld (credit:
Danielle Sonnenfeld (credit:

She made daily visits to a boy beyond the glass window who had blood cancer and had to undergo a bone-marrow transplant, forcing him to stay in complete isolation for 70 days to protect him from getting infections; he spoke at the ceremony.

Many people, including her relatives, learned of her good deeds only when her family sat shiva after her funeral. 

While most families who have lost a loved one of any age and feel the person’s absence every day get together at the cemetery and for a meal at the annual yahrtzeit ceremony, Danielle’s family headed by Moti Sonnenfeld went way beyond that. 

Honoring Danielle's memory

They established a foundation that offers free services and supports dozens of organizations in Israel, South America, Europe and India to better people’s lives. Simultaneously with at-risk youth in Acre.

The foundation, whose president is Danielle’s father Moti who gave up his business to head it, has been a partner in about 140 projects in the fields of education, medicine, society and welfare. These projects include: Midreshet Danielle that trains girls for national service; the Danielle Clinic that  provides innovative psychological treatments to underprivileged populations coping with trauma and loss; Lev Danielle that helps couples undergoing IVF, leading to the birth of over 10,000 babies born since Danielle’s death; Be’noam Danielle that removes bureaucratic barriers in registering for marriage; For Danieli for integrating at-risk girls into national service; For Them that provides medical care to Holocaust survivors; support for a bone-marrow databank; bar/bat mitzvah ceremonies in Israel for youngsters from Europe and blind Israeli youths; providing services for women exposed to family violence;and social support for prisoners’ families.

The annual ceremony for medical professionals

The highlight, however, is the annual ceremony – now in its seventh year – for awarding Israel’s “Dedicated Doctor” prize – all of whom who reflect values of dedication, humanity and professionalism, which reflect the values of Danielle.

Among those who spoke with emotion from the stage were teens and young adults whose morale was boosted tremendously as cancer patients that Danielle helped. 

“Winning the Danielle Prize is proof that professional and human medicine can be practiced, even in the framework of a busy community clinic – The proof that professional and humane medicine can be sustained,” said Prof. Alon Grossman, a senior specialist in Family Medicine and head of internal medicine department B at the Rabin Medical Center-Beilinson Campus in Petah Tikva who spoke at the ceremony on behalf of himself and the 13 other winners. 

“She was an example of dedication, giving and love. Danielle's volunteer work and the big heart that led her in her life led us to formulate the prize that sanctifies the heart of medicine, those doctors who excel in their humanity no less than in their professionalism,” said her father. 

The other winners, who represented all walks of Israeli life, were Dr. Ela Oshrovsky of Modi’in/Mabbabim/Reut; Dr. Doron Angel of Tel Aviv; Dr. Tali Golik-Goz of Tel Aviv; Dr. Rotem Dolev of Petah Tikva; Dr. Iris Hershkovitz-Faso of Kiryat Bialik; Dr. Arye Waldman of Haifa; Dr. Shahar Zilberstein of Petah Tikva; Dr. Ido Matya of Ariel; Dr. Munir Nussirat of Kfar Vitikin; Dr. Marina Tzabang of Jerusalem; Dr. Ya’acov Kazatzker of Ashdod; and Dr. Valeria Razhbek of Yavne.