The inaugural “On the Vine” music and entertainment festival is scheduled to be held in Martha’s Vineyard during August 22—25, attracting celebrities and artists to raise awareness about kidney disease and support remarkable research at Rambam Health Care Campus in Haifa.

On the Vine will be a four-day showcase of artistic, musical, and theatrical talents united in reducing the prevalence of kidney disease among African-Americans. Proceeds from the festival will go to benefit research by Professor Karl Skorecki, the director of medical and research development at Rambam, and colleagues who have identified the gene that marks the prevalence for kidney disease among people of African descent, thus paving the way for researchers to better prevent and treat conditions.

“As an observant Jew and a Jew living in Israel, I think that what I’m doing is a continuation of what others have done for millennia; the Jewish people have always tried to be in the forefront of tikun olam and being a part of the universal message of trying your best. It’s a part of our heritage to reach to work with the Al‑mighty to make the world a better place,” said Dr. Skorecki. “First and foremost, I am a physician and I am interested in discoveries that promote health and save lives, which is a Jewish and universal value.”

African-Americans are 3.5 times more likely to suffer from kidney disease, and some 12 million African-Americans are diagnosed with the condition. About 30 percent of all patients treated for kidney failure are African-American. Dr. Skorecki said that the public health and medical communities are noticing the research from Rambam “because of the vast potential to apply the discovery of the gene, the risk factor, and its mechanism to help the African-American community.”

Singer Natalie Cole, a kidney-disease survivor, will headline the event with R&B musician Kenny “BabyFace” Edmonds. Also performing will be comedian and actor Richard Lewis from the series Curb Your Enthusiasm. During the festival, there will be a silent auction of celebrity goods and appearances by an assortment of performers, including Grammy Award winning violinist Miri Ben-Ari, and jazz greats Kahil El Zabar, Roy Hargrove, and James Carter.

American Friends of Rambam executive director Michele Segelnick said, “We are collaborating with ‘On the Vine’ to emphasize the importance of shedding light on the horrible impact kidney disease has had on the African-American community and the potential of the research being conducted at Rambam. We are excited about all who have come together in support of this cause.”

Segelnick added, “We are proud to show how Israel, as the Jewish nation, is working to improve the health and the lives of other population groups. It is quintessential that Jews and non-Jews alike can benefit from Rambam’s research and innovation, because the hospital stands to offer fair and quality care to all individuals.” v


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