This was Benjamin Brafman’s 11th year emceeing the annual Tower of Hope gala of the Israel Cancer Research Fund in March at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in New York, and he continued his time-honored routine of starting off with witty banter.
The prominent criminal defense lawyer was introduced as someone you should never know professionally.
He had just come from court where he represented his latest client: New York State Senator Carl Kruger of Brooklyn whom the feds charged with running a bribery racket for taking $1 million in return for political favors.
When Brafman entered the ballroom a woman gushed, “I saw you on TV today. You look much better on TV”
She took out a camera, but the lawyer cautioned, “Trust me, you don’t want to take a picture with me. I’m like malach hamoves [angel of death].”
Brafman related that an oncologist told him, “We both have something in common.”
“Nobody is eager to meet either of us.”
“No,” Brafman replied. “We’re different. When you lose a patient he dies. When I lose a client, I get letters for 25 years.”
Kenneth E. Goodman, ICRF chairman, reported that in its 36 years the organization raised $40 million, enabling 1800 research grants to support Israeli scientists. That resulted in the discovery of important cancer fighting drugs such as Doxil and Velcade, among others, that are “saving thousands of live each year.”
Brafman added, “There are people living more productive lives because of medications our scientists have discovered.”
ICRF also aided the early work of Avram Hershko and Aaron Ciechanover who became Israel’s first Nobel Prize winners in science.
The dinner honored Dr. Daniel F. Roses, professor of oncology at New York University School of Medicine and director of surgical oncology at NYU Langone Medical Center; Helene Miller, who with her late husband, Dr. Daniel G. Miller, founded the ICRF; Dr. Rabbi Elie Abadie, a gastroenterologist in Brooklyn and founding rabbi of the Edmond J. Safra Synagogue in Manhattan, and Andrew Faas, recently retired as executive vice president of Shoppers Drug Mart, Canada’s largest drug chain.
“If not for Israel’s researchers supported by ICRF I’d be dead,” Faas related. “I now live a full life except I can’t have grapefruit, which is okay as I never liked it anyway.”
Faas said that ICRF doctors told him that chemotherapy and radiation will soon become a thing of the past. He added that in a few years treatment for most forms of cancer will be targeted directly to the cancer cells without harming the healthier cells.
Tim Boxer is editor of 15MinutesMagazine.com.