Cheryl Saban is a prolific author, a social activist, a popular psychologist, a former U.N. delegate and a famous philanthropist – but above all, she is a woman with a Jewish heart.
Today she is the wife of billionaire media mogul Haim Saban and living in luxury, but her road to success has been strewn with difficult challenges.
She was born Cheryl Lyn Flor and raised in San Diego in a working-class family. Her young adult life evolved into a time of great challenges as her marriage dissolved, leaving her a single working mother in dire circumstances who struggled to make ends meet.
“There are certain seminal experiences that help your personal acorn begin its transformation into the oak tree,” she relates in one of her books. “One of those moments occurred for me in the mid-1980s. It was the day I stepped into the L.A. Free Clinic as a patient.”
As a newly-divorced mother of two daughters, ages 10 and 12, she was desperately looking for a job. Finally she managed to get an office manager job at a design firm. But her salary was just enough to cover basic living expenses – rent, gas, food and incidentals for the kids. It did not include health insurance.
A short time later, Cheryl became seriously ill. She couldn’t afford to go to a doctor; she had to seek public assistance. Although she passed the free clinic each day on her way to work, she regarded it as an institution for the poverty-stricken and in her heart pitied the poor souls who were compelled to line up for healthcare there.
Now she had no choice. She swallowed her pride and forced herself to visit the free clinic. In her eyes, she felt humiliated and believed that the clinic’s staff considered her a loser. But the staff and doctors treated her with the utmost respect – she received excellent care, medication and blood tests – all with her dignity intact.
She left the clinic a changed woman. She had been given an amazing gift – unconditional human love. She recovered from her illness and a short time later, in 1987, she went to work for Haim Saban. In 1988 he asked Cheryl to become his wife, and life’s opportunities opened for this talented, intelligent, kind woman.
“More than 25 years later, I am gratified that my husband and I are donors to the free clinic. In April 2008 it was renamed The Saban Free Clinic,” she declares with delight.
But her contributions did not end there. The Saban Family Foundation’s major advocacy is for Israel and it heavily supports Jewish causes. Her special project, the Rashi Foundation, provides “education and social welfare for Israel’s young and under-served.” The Sabans’ international focus is strictly on pro-Jewish causes. In 2007, the foundation made a $14-million grant to help complete the children’s hospital at Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba.
Cheryl Saban, a doctor of psychology, author of fifteen books, a loving wife, mother of four daughters and grandmother of four, is primarily a giver with love and passion. Most of all, she is a role model for her descendants who endeavor to follow her example. And a woman with a Jewish heart.Prof. Livia Bitton-Jackson