Gail Propp, from left, Ann Turobiner Dachs and
Diane Ackerman were honored by Shaare Zedek women’s division
SHAARE ZEDEK MEDICAL CENTERThis Belly Dancer Needs
More Than Seven Veils
Text and Photo by Tim Boxer
REAST cancer was a hot topic at the annual luncheon of the national women’s division of Shaare Zedek Medical Center of Jerusalem at New York’s Pierre Hotel. Division president Lee Weinbach honored Gail Propp, Diane Ackerman and Ann Turobiner Dachs.
Propp, a prominent software developer and CIO of Slim-Fast until it was sold in 2000, has a personal connection with breast cancer research at Shaare Zedek. In 1979 her sister, Marsha Dane Stern, lost a five-year battle with that disease. She was 36. In 1980 her mother found a lump but survived cancer-free until she died last year.
In 1992 Propp was diagnosed with cancer in both breasts. Soon she was shocked to learn that she was one of 12 breast cancer cases in her family, dating back to her great-grandmother through the grandfather.
"My family," she said, "learned the hard way how truly important it is to know your family’s medical history."
Propp also noted Shaare Zedek’s new stem cell research lab. "They intend to provide a unique global resource for studying human disease in human cells. Researchers anywhere in the world will have access to these stem cell lines."
Ackerman, author of The Zookeeper’s Wife, said that breast cancer runs in her family as well. "The women usually survive and are extraordinary role models.
She said her feisty aunt was born Freyda. During the women’s movement she changed her name to Fran. By the time she turned 84 her name was Fatima. Even though she had a double mastectomy, she may have been the oldest living belly dancer!
"She just kept adding veils," Ackerman said. "She performed for people with poor vision, like in nursing homes."
Her book is about a Christian woman who saved Jews from the Warsaw Ghetto by hiding them in the city zoo. "This story has somehow slipped between the seams of history," she said.
None of the glamorous ladies who lunched seemed past her prime. In fact Dachs, a vice president of the women’s division, had an answer to the perennial question, When is middle age? "It’s always a year past your age."