Howard Theatre gala aims to mend children’s hearts


sachMore than 200 people gathered at Howard Theatre Sunday night to raise money for a new pediatric hospital in Israel and be entertained by Broadway and film star Brian Stokes Mitchell.

The Save a Child’s Heart (SACH) fundraising gala, held for the organization’s 20th anniversary, raised $200,000, said Barbara Goldberg Goldman, who co-chaired the event with Pennie Abramson. The funds will help enable SACH to build the Middle East’s first international pediatric cardiac care center, said Goldberg Goldman.

SACH is a foundation that provides life-saving heart surgery in Israel for children in 50 developing countries, many of which are enemies of Israel. Doctors at Wolfson Medical Center near Tel Aviv have treated more than 3,800 children suffering from cardiac-related illnesses, about half of whom live in the Middle East. Another 40 percent are from Africa.

SACH covers all costs for most patients, including transportation to Israel. The doctors and other members of the medical team are volunteers.

“Every 29 hours SACH saves another child’s life,” said Goldberg Goldman.

Luladay Megristie is one of the children helped by this program. She was 7 years old and living in Ethiopia, when she was brought to Israel with “less than a 50 percent chance of survival,” she told the audience. “Save a Child’s Heart has been an instrument of God,” said the young woman who now attends law school at George Washington University.

Honored at the event were Annie Simonian Totah, who is active in religion, health and other issues at the local, national and international level, and Thomas Pickering, who served more than 40 years as a diplomat, including as ambassador to Israel and the United Nations.

Introducing Totah, Rep. Chris Van Hollen, who is a Decmocratic candidate for Senate from Maryland, referred to her as a “warrior for good causes.” He went on to quote from the Talmud that whoever saves a life, saves the world, and he noted that with SACH, “you have a chance of breaking down barriers.”

Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-District 7), who introduced Pickering, said the children who are saved “are the living messages we send to a future we will never see.”

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