Israel’s Hadassah Medical Organization Receives $5.5 Million Gift for Pediatric Cancer Research

Wednesday, August 2, 2023

Alix Friedman

JERUSALEM and NEW YORK CITY — The Hadassah Medical Organization (HMO), a leading hospital system in Israel, has received a single $5.5 million gift for pediatric cancer research from a French philanthropist. The donor, who has chosen to remain anonymous, was moved to make the gift after learning of the international relief effort that sent 100 HMO doctors and nurses to care for Ukrainian refugees at the Poland-Ukraine border, and that Hadassah France, part of an international network of Hadassah organizations, has a strong focus on supporting HMO's work in pediatric oncology.

The gift will help fund pediatric cancer studies at HMO, including a pediatric immunotherapy trial and an investigation of how organoids might be used to treat childhood cancers. Being able to treat children using organoids, i.e., lab-grown tissues that mimic the features and functions of a tissue in the body, would be a major breakthrough since the pain caused by chemotherapy is even harder for children to tolerate than it can be for adults. Part of the donation will also go toward upgrading the infrastructure and equipment in the pediatric oncology department of Hadassah Hospital Ein Kerem.

The donor first learned of Hadassah's Ukraine relief effort from an interview with Emmanuel Messas, a cardiologist and the president of Hadassah France, in a French-Jewish newspaper. In the interview, Dr. Messas discussed the vital medical care HMO doctors gave to Ukrainian refugees escaping their war-torn country — care made possible by a joint effort of HMO; Hadassah, The Women's Zionist Organization of America (HWZOA); and Hadassah International (HI), HWZOA's global fundraising arm, of which Hadassah France is part.

Said Dr. Messas, "Hadassah France is very grateful for this extraordinary donation, which will lead to advances in the early detection of childhood cancers as well as targeted therapy and follow-up care for patients affected far too early in their lives by these horrible diseases."

"Cancer is the second leading cause of death in children and is a high priority for Hadassah," said Jorge Diener, Executive Director, HI. "This donation will have a profound impact on the lives of countless children and their families."

Rhoda Smolow, National President, HWZOA, said, "This exceptionally generous gift will enable our colleagues at Hadassah Medical Organization to make huge strides in their efforts to tackle these pernicious diseases. The donation offers hope to young cancer patients and all who care about them."

"My colleagues and I are overwhelmed by the scope of this gift and the potential it has to transform treatment and save lives," said Yoram Weiss, MD, Director General, HMO. "We offer our profound thanks to the donor and to Hadassah France and all those who helped make this gift possible."

Israel's minister of health, Moshe Arbel, and the Sephardic chief rabbi of Jerusalem, Moshe Amar, joined other dignitaries at a ceremony held today at HMO’s Hadassah Hospital Ein Kerem in Jerusalem to recognize the donation. Also on hand were Dr. Messas; Carol Ann Schwartz, president-elect of HWZOA; Jorge Diener of HI; Dr. Weiss; Dalia Itzik, chair of HMO's board of directors; and Gal Godstein, MD, director of pediatric hemato-oncology at Hadassah Hospital Ein Kerem.

For more than a century, Hadassah Medical Organization, the hospital system of Hadassah, The Women’s Zionist Organization of America, has set the standard in Israel for excellence in treatment and research. The experience and ingenuity of Hadassah’s doctors and scientists have yielded ideas with vast potential in all areas of medicine, including therapeutics, diagnostic medical devices and digital health. In 2023, Newsweek named Hadassah a world leader in oncology, the only medical center in Israel to receive that honor, and one of the world’s top hospitals in cardiology and smart technology.


Hadassah, The Women’s Zionist Organization of America, Inc. (HWZOA), is the largest Jewish women’s organization in the United States. With nearly 300,000 members, Associates and supporters, HWZOA brings women together to effect change and advocate on such critical issues as ensuring the security of Israel, combating antisemitism and promoting women’s health. Through the two hospitals of the Hadassah Medical Organization (HMO) in Jerusalem, HWZOA helps support both exemplary care for more than one million people every year and world-renowned medical research. HMO serves without regard to race, religion or nationality and earned a Nobel Peace Prize nomination in 2005 for building bridges to peace through medicine. Additionally, HWZOA supports several Youth Aliyah villages that set at-risk children in Israel on the path to a successful future. For more information, visit or follow Hadassah on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter.