Littenberg-Brown: Founder/President, Save a Child’s Heart’s (SACH) Young Leadership
Michael Littenberg-Brown is a staunch Democrat, and Melissa Jane Kronfeld is an avowed Republican. But when it comes to supporting Save a Child’s Heart (SACH), a charity that enables Israeli doctors to perform life-saving heart surgeries, the friends stand united.
“We get past the labels and arguments,” said Kronfeld, whose nickname is MJ. “Our work with SACH transcends that.”
“In a sense, the more we disagree, the more valuable it is, because it means people from almost any perspective can support this cause,” said Littenberg-Brown.
Littenberg-Brown works as a senior development officer for OneVoice, a nonprofit dedicated to fostering connection between moderates on both sides of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. In 2009, after encountering SACH’s parent organization in the Israeli town of Holon on a Birthright Israel trip, he started New York SACH young leadership.
In Holon, doctors perform surgeries pro bono for SACH. The organization also runs a clinic where up to 20 children can stay for as long as three months at a time while they are recovering. In all, SACH’s doctors have performed over 3,000 life-saving surgeries on children. Forty percent of recipients have been African, 50 percent Palestinian, and the remainder hailed from elsewhere in the Arab world. SACH doctors also travel to train other medical professionals.
“You have Israeli doctors traveling the world to save children regardless of who they are,” said Littenberg-Brown. “There are so many ways this reflects our Jewish values.”
Although he spearheaded SACH young leadership in New York, Boston, Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles, Littenberg-Brown credits Kronfeld with mobilizing a critical mass of young leaders to turn out for events in New York.
Last year, the group raised $100,000, providing heart surgery to 10 children. This year’s fundraising goal is $200,000.
Kronfeld, a former New York Post reporter, teaches American foreign policy and national security at Rutgers, where she is pursuing a Ph.D. in global affairs. She stressed the unique events SACH young leadership has held for young professionals, such as a comedy night and a group outing to help Hurricane Sandy victims with cleanup in the Far Rockaways.
“It’s about inspiring people to do philanthropy, hands-on,” she said.
SACH young leadership plans a summer kickoff party in June. The theme will be … 36!
Hard core: MJ has two sizable tattoos on the insides of her arms, one of which reads “Am Yisrael Chai,” (“The People of Israel Live”) while the other reads, “Baruch Hashem” (“Blessed be God”). Although she is a political conservative, she would support Hillary Clinton for president in 2016. Cut a rug: When he isn’t pursuing humanitarian efforts, Littenberg-Brown enjoys salsa dancing with his girlfriend, Andrea.