Helping Others: The Satisfaction Of A Mother, Teacher, And Her Son

By: Deena Horenstein

United Hatzalah volunteer EMT Osnat Reuven, willingly devoted her time over the past couple of months to provide humanitarian assistance on top of her regular EMS duties. Already by Purim, just at the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak in Israel, she and her son went around delivering mishloach manot (food packages) to elderly citizens. “Exposing my son to so much compassion towards the elderly, having him see someone else’s needs and the joy in someone else’s eyes upon being the recipient of a kind act, helped him recognize what is truly important in life. By giving to others he learned how to appreciate all that he has in his life,” said Osnat.  

Osnat delivering food packages to the elderly with her son

Osnat and her son continued their efforts throughout the Corona pandemic over the next month, delivering food and medicines as needed, and as the holiday of Passover approached the mother-and-son-team worked extensively to prepare and distribute food for those unable to leave their homes due to the threat of the virus and lockdown protocols. 


Osnat’s son told her how much he appreciated being a part of this humanitarian initiative. “I feel so much satisfaction in helping others. I don’t feel like just another average kid anymore. I gave of myself to the community and I did something good.” 


As a volunteer EMT, Osnat continued responding to medical emergencies whenever they occurred in her vicinity. A few weeks ago, at 2:30 in the morning,  a woman was experiencing severe chest pain and difficulty breathing. Being one of the closest responders, Osnat received the emergency alert and without hesitation jumped out of bed, drove to the scene, and was the first to arrive. Osnat ran to the woman and after assessing the situation determined that all signs pointed to this woman was suffering from a heart attack. 


Osnat immediately administered aspirin and oxygen, and the woman’s condition stabilized. She continued her ministrations and comforted the distraught patient as they waited for the ambulance to arrive. Once the ambulance team was on location the paramedic performed an EKG test and confirmed that the woman had indeed suffered a cardiac incident. 


The woman needed to go to the hospital and fast. But, she became agitated as the ambulance team began to prepare her for transport. The woman explained that her husband had passed away six months ago and if she went to the hospital there would be no one to watch her child who was sleeping in the other room. 

Osnat’s son delivering food packages to the elderly with his mom

Without missing a beat, Osnat assured her that she would stay with the child, giving the mother her number and comforting her that she could call her whenever she wanted. The mother gratefully accepted Osnat’s offer and went with the ambulance team to the hospital. Osnat removed her orange vest and hid her medic bag, so as not to alarm the child in the event that he woke up. She sat on the couch and kept the mother updated every hour until 5:00 a.m. when a family member, who had come from a distant city, was finally able to arrive at the home and care for the sleeping boy.


“United Hatzalah is a family. We all treat each other like we are at home with one another. I feel appreciated for everything I do. We all have mutual respect towards one another that stems from a mutual responsibility. I love being a part of this organization. All of the volunteers care for each other, support each other, and are to help each other with whatever is needed. Being a volunteer with the organization has given me the opportunity to give to others and that brings me a tremendous amount of satisfaction. I feel truly blessed that I was able to recently share this with my son during the Corona pandemic. As a teacher and a parent, I feel it is my responsibility to set a strong example of volunteering and helping others in the hopes that they too will emulate these qualities. United Hatzalah helps me to be the best role model that I can be for my children, students, and community.” 


Osnat will soon be putting her teaching skills to work in the organization as well as she is currently training to become an EMS instructor. She hopes to train many future generations of volunteer EMS responders enabling them to save many more lives. 


To support the work of volunteers like Osnat please click here:

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Jewish EMT From Israel Donates Bone Marrow To Save American Muslim Child

“My name is Yisrael Otmazgin. I am a Jewish Israeli and this is the story of how I saved the life of a Muslim American boy that I never met. 

Yisrael Otmazgin on his ambucycle

A year has passed since I underwent a bone marrow donation. I underwent surgery,  fully sedated, in order to donate bone marrow to a boy whom I didn’t know and had never met. A year in which, according to international law, it is forbidden to reveal the identities of the donor or the recipient of the donation. 


A few days ago I received a phone call from the coordinator of bone marrow donations at Hadassah Ein Kerem hospital. “Shalom Yisrael,” the coordinator began. “The family of the recipient child of your bone marrow wants to contact you and I know that you have expressed interest in being in contact as well, so please sign a confidentiality waiver and I’ll connect you.” 


24 hours after I signed the waiver, I received a form with contact details and preferred method of contact for the family of the recipient. It was then made known to me that the recipient was a young boy in the United States located in the state of Michigan. 


I wanted to immediately contact them, but how could I? I didn’t know whether the boy’s life had been saved. If the boy died, then contacting them would deepen their trauma. 

I decided to send a very carefully worded message. I identified myself as “the donor” and I wrote that I was very much hoping to save the life of the child who was the recipient.


A few minutes passed and I received a reply. “Hi, This is ******. Israel, thank you so much for saving my son. I cannot thank you enough. I am really excited to meet you too.” 


At that moment, there was likely no one happier on the face of the planet than myself. We arranged for a video meeting the next day. As soon as the meeting started, the tears flowed as the mother of the recipient told me what happened to her son.


“My son was born with a rare and debilitating physical ailment called SCID. This disease prevents the body from properly developing an immune system. This means that even the tiniest and most insignificant bacteria or viruses can kill our child. Children like him are kept inside of a “vault” in the hospital to make sure that they do not contract any illness. Their normal life expectancy is less than a year if a bone marrow donor cannot be found.  His two older brothers were only a 50 percent match. But you, from all the people in the bone marrow database, were a 100 percent match.” (There are close to 44 million people in the database.)


The patient’s mother continued: “Following the transplant, his body responded well to the treatment and there was an immediate improvement in his medical condition. Since then, he has contracted three separate illnesses that are common for young children and his body overcame the illnesses each time. This means that the transplant succeeded. This means that he is also partly your child. He is alive because of you and we have no way to say thank you.” 


At this point, we were both in tears. 


We continued the conversation and I introduced their family to my family. They then introduced me to the cute boy whose life I helped save. He was an American Muslim. He is a very sweet boy who is full of life and joy. I was a bit surprised that here I am in Israel, an ultra-orthodox Jew, and I saved the life of a Muslim boy in the United States by donating part of my bone marrow to him. After my initial surprise, I realized what kind of connection God made here- a connection of life and love between two people who in regular day-to-day life would likely never meet one another and if they did meet would most likely not like one another. We all have dreams of what our children will grow to become. Now this family has a chance for their son to realize both his dreams and theirs. 


Those who know me, know that I am an EMT with United Hatzalah of Israel, the national EMS organization whose volunteers drop whatever they are doing and rush to save lives at a moment’s notice. I also serve in the IDF Home Front Command elite rescue unit as a reservist and often come across death serving as a Zaka volunteer. With that in mind, I am happy to be involved with anything that can save a life, no matter whose life that is. 


I am an Israeli and I live in Israel, yet I saved the life of this young Arab boy in the United States. I am incredibly happy about being able to do so and I sincerely hope that my story will serve as a guide for the sanctity of life to people all over the world.” 

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Israeli Musicians Partner With United Hatzalah For Free Yom Yerushalayim Concert

On Thursday, May 21st, as Jews the world over will be commemorating the reunification of the city of Jerusalem, Israeli music greats, Chaim David, Shlomo Katz, Zusha, The Portnoy Brothers, Nuriel, and Naftali and Shlomo Abramson, will be performing via a live-streamed concert event aimed at giving something back to the community. 

Vice President of Operations for United Hatzalah Dov Maisel said: “The situation that we are living in right now has been really tough on a lot of people. One of the things that our volunteers have encountered time and again is the high level of stress that everyone seems to be living with, especially after an elongated lockdown where people were unable to celebrate with family members and loved ones. This is an abnormal situation and from a health perspective, we need to deal with our own emotional well being as well as the well being of others. We hope that this concert will help in some small way by allowing people to take a break and enjoy themselves.“ 


Maisel added: “In lieu of people being able to celebrate Yom Yerushalayim together as they would in a normal year, with live music and concerts, we took it upon ourselves to create a feel-good event where everyone could de-stress for a short time “together apart”. This event is being done completely free of charge and we aren’t asking for donations. The point is simply to say thank you to our community and to celebrate together with some great music.”  


The event, which marks the Hebrew date of the reunification of Israel’s capital in 1967, is the second major event that the organization has hosted via live stream in the month of May. Earlier in the month, United Hatzalah hosted “Saving Lives Sunday” a targeted fundraising event that succeeded at raising more than $1,000,000 in support of the work that is being done by the organization to fight the Covid-19 Coronavirus. Since that event, United Hatzalah has stepped up testing patients for Covid-19 in numerous areas of Jerusalem and the surrounding area, focusing mainly on testing patients in the Ultra-Orthodox communities of Geulah, Meah Shearim, Beitar Illit, Beit Shemesh and other locations that have been some of the hardest-hit areas in Israel. 


Everyone is invited to register for the free live-streamed Yom Yerushalayim Concert, by going to the website: 

The event will begin on Thursday evening, May 21st at 8:00 p.m. Israel time (GMT+2)

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Oldest Active United Hatzalah Volunteer Celebrates His 80th Birthday Under The Shadow of Corona

This week, Eli Mizrachi is turning 80-years-old and is the oldest active volunteer EMT first responder in United Hatzalah and perhaps in Israel.  At a time when people of his age bracket are most commonly found staying at home due to being in the high-risk category of contracting the Covid-19 Coronavirus, Eli is still responding to medical emergencies. 

Eli Beer presenting Eli Mizrachi a mini lance emergency vehicle in honor of his 80th birthday

“Being a first responder gives me a sense of living. It is a responsibility and it keeps me young,” Mizrachi said. “My wife tells me to stop. She tells me that I have done enough that I get tired from running out to emergencies. I tell her, you don’t know how much strength it gives me. It refuels my energy to know that I can still go out and help someone. I may give a lot of myself to help others, but I get much more back in return.”


Until recently, Eli had been driving one of the organization’s ambucycles. This year, the organization convinced him to finally give up the ambucycle and honored him with a new mini-lance, a compact smart ar capable of responding quickly and still cutting through traffic.


“When I began driving the mini-lance, I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to respond as quickly. But thankfully, other drivers are very conscientious when I have my lights and sirens on and give way for me to get through. It is safer as it is on four wheels,” Mizrachi said. 


Mizrachi, who has been volunteering as a first responder for close to 60 years, said that he appreciates being able to help others whenever an emergency occurs in his vicinity. “It is no small thing to respond to emergencies, especially now during this corona era. But we protect ourselves as best we can, I wear full personal protective gear when I go out on emergency calls and I go to help.” 

Eli relayed a story of a recent emergency call that he responded to where he helped a woman deliver her baby on the street. “A few weeks ago, I responded to an emergency regarding a pregnant woman giving birth. I was expecting it to be inside a home or at least inside a car. But when I arrived at the address given I saw a commotion on the street between parked cars. I headed over and I began to disperse the crowd. The woman in the middle of the commotion told me that she was having contractions and was in the advanced stages of labor. I opened the birthing kit that I have and just as another volunteer arrived the woman began delivering her baby. We helped her deliver the baby right then and there on the street between two parked cars. It took the ambulance another 20 minutes to arrive. During the wait, after I cleaned the baby and gave him back to his mother, the mother shocked me and asked me if I had a cigarette. I have delivered a lot of babies, and never have I been asked for a cigarette by the mother. I told her that I don’t have one and explained to her the dangers of smoking around her child.”  


Mizrachi then said that he will likely keep volunteering as long as he continues to wake up in the morning. “As I said before, it keeps me young.”

 To support volunteers like Eli Mizrachi please click here:

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Remembering Effi Gadassi, Three Years Later

The story that I would like to tell you transpired some three years ago. 

A few families had gathered in Park Hayarkon in Tel Aviv with our children. The younger children were playing on the jungle gym, the older ones were riding bicycles, the women were talking and us, the men, were barbecuing. 

Efraim Gadassi with his medical kit after treating a patient.

I want to point out, and this isn’t really connected to the story, well maybe it is somewhat connected, that all of us who were gathered there are secular, but we respect religion. 

Our group of friends has known one another since childhood and we try to head out together for a picnic once in a while, usually sometime in the middle of the week. 

A religious young man came close to where we were having our picnic, he had a very young child with him and they were playing with a ball. We didn’t pay them much attention. 

One of the guys in our group, Tomer, headed to the car park in order to get some extra pitot that we had left in his car. He came back rather annoyed saying that a motorcycle had parked very close to the door of his car. “I couldn’t get into the car,” he exclaimed. 

Tomer is the natural-born leader of our group. He’s tall, strong, and has a very short fuse. He usually has a very big heart, until someone gets on his bad side, and this motorcycle certainly annoyed him. “Who does the motorcycle belong to?” Tomer shouted at the world as if there was a chance that among the throngs of people in the park the owner would be near enough to us to hear him. 

Miraculously, the modest religious fellow asked, “Are you talking about the United Hatzalah motorcycle?” 

Tomer replied. “Yeah. The big one that is red and white with a big box on the back. Why is it yours?”

The man replied, “Yes it is mine.”

Tomer growled, “So get off your backside and move it for God’s sake.”

The man answered, “Why do you need to speak like that. Speak kindly.”

“Speak kindly?” Tomer replied “Very soon you’ll feel the kindness of my fists without any words whatsoever. Now move your damned motorcycle before I come over there.”

The religious man looked at him, was visibly hurt by his words, and remarked., “Would you like it if people spoke that way around your child?” 

Efraim on call

Tomer walked over to him menacingly. It looked like he really wanted to hit the fellow. But I and the other guys gathered and stopped Tomer mid-stride. We told the gentleman, “Leave it alone. Please move your motorcycle and leave it alone. Tomer is not a guy you want to get into a fight with.” 

In truth, I didn’t support Tomer’s actions and I believe that neither did the rest of our group of friends, but he was our friend, and this other fellow we didn’t know at all. According to our rules of conduct, that meant that we supported Tomer. The other gentleman, why would he be of interest to us at all? The gentleman took his son and walked away rather embarrassed. A hush fell over our group. The silence screamed at us regarding what we all felt in our hearts. Why did Tomer have to embarrass this man so thoroughly, and why at all? So he could take the pitot out of the other side of the car, why did he have to treat this man so poorly. But this we only felt in our hearts. To Tomer, no one said anything. But we all felt guilty that we were part of the cause of this man’s embarrassment. 

The man came back after a few minutes and continued to play with his son. What happened a few moments later changed everything. 

Suddenly we heard a scream. Hagit had fallen off of the ladder on the playground. Hagit is Tomer’s daughter. She is six years old. She was playing with the rest of our children as well as dozens of others on a rope ladder that was part of a jungle gym. She simply collapsed from the top of the ladder and fell. All the other kids began screaming that something happened to her. We ran over to the jungle gym as fast as we could. Hagit simply lay on the sand, completely blue. It was clearly visible that she was not breathing. 

Tomer ran over to her and began to shout, “Hagit! Hagit! Wake up! Help, Help, Somebody, help her! Someone call an ambulance.” His shouts were heard throughout the entire park. 

Suddenly, the religious man appeared by my side and gave me his child. “Please take care of him, I’m coming back to help.” Before I could say or do anything he was gone as he dashed off in a crazed run. 

It is hard for me to describe the next few moments. There were dozens of people who were watching a painful tragedy unfold and not a single one of them was able to do anything about it. 

I can’t begin to explain the sensation of helplessness that we all felt. I simply can’t. And amid all this chaos and confusion, we heard an ambulance’s siren. We couldn’t figure out how an ambulance was arriving without anyone even calling for one. When suddenly the answer appeared before us. The siren was coming from the motorcycle, the big red one with the huge box on which it said United Hatzalah in bold words. 

The young man who was sitting on it got off the motorcycle in a hurry, and with steady hands opened the box, pulled out a number of items, and went up to the girl.  

The whole situation was incredibly surreal. Tomer, the strong man who was always steady, was shaking like a baby, and this soft-spoken man suddenly changed into the person who took charge of the situation. He began to give instructions to the gathered crowd. “You hold this… You bring me that… You run to the motorcycle and bring me the blue bag… Now tear it gently… “ Simultaneously, he called for an ambulance on his 2-way radio, “Send an ambulance to my location. We have a case of a child suffering from serious head trauma. She’s not breathing and has lost consciousness.” 

We looked at this man as a saving angel. He acted with professionalism, efficiency, and a sense of purpose. Within less than a minute, Hagit, who was unconscious and not able to breathe began to move and cough. He succeeded in resuscitating her. 

People all around began to cry. All of the women were in tears and many of the men as well. The man was focused, he continued to care for the girl and kept an open line of communication with his dispatch center. A few long minutes later that felt like an eternity, a stretcher arrived. A paramedic and two other men carried the girl to a waiting ambulance. 

Tomer walked up to the young man and said, “I’m so sorry…. So very very sorry,” and broke down in tears. The man told him that “There is no time. Get onboard the ambulance and go with your daughter. It will all be okay.” He climbed on board and the ambulance left in a hurry. 

We all approached the young man. We hugged him, and kissed him and thanked him profusely. We apologized profusely for our part in his embarrassment. I can’t express the outpouring of emotion that took place there. The man almost crumpled into himself due to the sheer amount of hugs and kisses he received. We were overwhelmed with emotion and we understood that something had occurred here that had never occurred to any of us ever before. We asked the young man for his name and number and promised him that we would keep in touch. 

We headed to the hospital. Hagit had pulled through and was no longer at any risk. Tomer was shattered and pitiful. He was so embarrassed by his actions towards the man who had saved his daughter’s life. Tomer called him the next day, cried, and begged for forgiveness. Tomer offered to pay the man money but the man calmed him down and said, “It’s okay, I forgive you.” He simultaneously tried to downplay what he had done. “We at United Hatzalah do these things every day. That is our reward. God forbid I should take even one penny from you.”

Tomer pressured him and pushed him to accept financial compensation. The man refused and said, “If you insist, you can make a donation to the organization, but I will not take a single cent from you.” 

Hagit was released from the hospital three days later, but Tomer had not calmed down. His soul was burning. He told us that he wanted to throw a thanksgiving party and invite the young gentleman as the guest of honor. 

He set the date for a week later on Saturday night and got the young man to agree to attend. He promised the man that he would make a donation to United Hatzalah as a sign of thanks. To this, the young man agreed. 

This should be the end of the story, right?

However, none of us could dream of how this story would actually end. I recommend that you, the reader make sure you are sitting before I tell you the end of the story. 

Effi/Efraim on his ambucycle

On Thursday night, the eve of the 23rd of the Hebrew month of Iyar, two days before the thanksgiving party for Hagit was set to occur, at 3:30 in the morning, the young man was called to an emergency. His name was Effi Gadassi. While he was en route, on Menashe Ben Yisrael St. in Jerusalem, he was hit by a taxi cab while heading to save someone else’s life. He was killed on the spot. 

You’ve most likely heard of Effi Gadassi, the United Hatzalah volunteer who was killed three years ago. He was the man who, with God’s help, had saved Hagit. The news reached us, and our lives were forever changed. Each and every one of us went to the funeral. We cried like babies. We held Tomer, who was close to fainting. I cannot express the pain he felt or the feelings of guilt that consumed him. We comforted him by reminding him that he had asked Effi for forgiveness and Effi had indeed forgiven him. But he felt that part of his heart had died with Effi.  

However much we came back to find religion in the aftermath of these events, Tomer drew even closer to the religion that he had once overlooked. He now wears a very large Kippah on his head, he prays daily and he keeps all aspects of the Shabbat to its fullest. All because of, and in remembrance of Effi. 

Tomer organized a fundraising drive amongst his friends and raised enough money to donate an ambucycle to the organization, the same kind of motorcycle that blocked his car and was used in saving his daughter’s life. The ambucycle will be dedicated in just one month’s time. 

This is one story of Effi Gadassi, may his memory be a blessing. The story also represents the thousands of volunteers from United Hatzalah all of whom are doing holy work and without any regard for receiving benefit from it. As our story testifies, sometimes this holy work is not always looked upon favorably, and sometimes it even has its challenges and uncomfortable moments. It comes with a lack of sleep, and many times people even deride or chastise them. But they do it anyway. 

May this story and the messages it contains, be a remembrance for the dedicated volunteer Effi Gadassi and may they help his spirit rise and soar in heaven.  

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In Israel, Emergency First Responders Are A Family

This past week marked both Memorial Day and Independence Day in Israel. Due to the Covid-19 Coronavirus threat, the Israeli government placed a lockdown on the country, and people were not allowed to congregate or visit the graves of their loved ones. Since emergency first responders are not limited by road closures and access limitations, United Hatzalah volunteers from across the country went to IDF cemeteries on Memorial Day in place of the family members who couldn’t attend. They recited kaddish for those who fell in battle, placed flowers on their tombstones, and stood in silence to give honor to those who sacrificed themselves for the country.

Yehuda and Inbal

Yehuda Hess and his wife Inbal were among the United Hatzalah volunteers who went to visit the family of a fallen IDF soldier. This family was among those who were not able to go to the cemetery and visit their lost children. They greatly appreciated the visit. Together Yehuda and Inbal delivered a single rose and spoke to the family members for a while, giving them a feeling of solidarity and comfort.

“Inbal spoke about what volunteering means to her, “When I go on a call I know that I’m being privileged with the opportunity to help and save someone and it’s a great feeling. “United Hatzalah is a family,” she continued. “My husband and I go on calls together and we come as a team. It’s a great feeling knowing that we are doing great things together and going as a couple gives more meaning to United Hatzalah being a family”.

Among the other things that he does for the organization, Yehudah volunteers as a dispatcher for United Hatzalah. Given his critical role in enabling volunteer response, he is currently not able to expose himself to operations in the field but is focused on ensuring that the volunteer force stays active. Yehudah finds working in the dispatch center very exciting, “I get to see and hear all that is done throughout the country by the United Hatzalah volunteers, and it is truly amazing,” said Yehudah. “The dispatch center is the heart of the system and I am so proud to be a part of it”.

Yehudah is very proud of his wife Inbal and was filled with joy when she told him she was going to do an EMT course. Yehuda said: “My wife graduated the course with honors and from then on we have gone on many calls together and have saved many lives together.” Knowing that he and his wife would be saving lives together made him ecstatic.

To support the work of volunteers like Yehuda and Inbal please click here:

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Saving Lives Sunday Event Raises $1,000,000 For First Responders In Fight Against Covid-19

An all-star team of international celebrities joined together to support Israeli first response organization United Hatzalah of Israel in its fight against Covid-19 Coronavirus yesterday. The virtual event, titled “Saving Lives Sunday”, took place on Sunday evening and included messages from Jay Leno, Nuseir Yassin (Nas Daily), Rona-Lee Shimon (Fauda), Adam Kantor (Broadway), Dudu Aharon, Lior Suchard, and Mark Gerson, who each shared a special heart-filled message saluting the first responders and Eli Beer. 


The event, which was streamed live on Youtube and on a special website, succeeded in raising more than $1,000,000 to support United Hatzalah’s fight against Covid-19 Coronavirus.  


The video also highlighted guest appearances by dozens of people, young and old whose lives were saved by volunteer first responders from United Hatzalah. In a truly special tribute, many of those who were saved got a chance to speak directly to their rescuers in conversations that were shared via zoom with those watching. 


“My life was saved,” said Eli Beer towards the end of the video. He then thanked those who saved him and those who donated towards the EMS organization: “Without you, the donors, this organization would not be able to do what it does every day. I also want to thank all of the volunteers of United Hatzalah in Israel and around the world. As well as all of the other Hatzalahs. Think about it. People are hiding in their homes trying to protect themselves from this terrible virus. But when a Hatzalah volunteer gets a call they don’t think twice. They run to save the person in need and put their own lives in danger. Now that I am in Israel, sometimes out of the window I see Hatzalah volunteers passing by with their siren on and I know that they are going out to save someone. So I want to thank you for everything that you do.”

Saving Lives Sunday: A Streaming Event Honoring First Responders and Welcoming Home Eli Beer can be viewed here: or here

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Jay Leno and Others To Lead “Saving Lives Sunday” Event To Raise Funds For Fight Against Coronavirus

-An all-star team of international celebrities is putting on a virtual event of music and comedy to honor first responders and support the United Hatzalah Coronavirus Emergency Response Fund.  

The event will take place on Sunday, May 3rd, and include Jay Leno, Lior Suchard, Rona Lee Shimon, Adam Kantor, Dudu Aharon, Amar’e Stoudemire and others. Kantor, of Broadway fame, recently produced a similar online event called Saturday Night Seder which raised over $3 Million for the CDC Foundation


The show will be free for viewers and streaming will be available at the website: or on United Hatzalah’s YouTube page. Those watching will have an hour filled with inspiration and laughter and will be encouraged to donate.  


Saving Lives Sunday: A Streaming Event Honoring First Responders and Welcoming Home Eli Beer is a way to bring people together during a time of enforced distance, stress, and uncertainty,” said United Hatzalah’s Vice President of Operations Dov Maisel. “Our volunteers have been putting themselves and their families at risk every day by responding to all types of medical emergencies as well as undertaking an incredible amount of humanitarian assistance calls since the virus swept across the globe. While we cannot come together in person to say thank you and show our support, we can still come together and show our gratitude through this virtual medium.” 


The event, a virtual telethon aimed at raising money to help assist in the organization’s fight against the Covid-19 Coronavirus, will be featuring Jay Leno and contain an hour of incredible content. In addition to the celebrities, volunteers from United Hatzalah who are on the front lines of the corona campaign will be telling their stories. 


During the event, there will also be a special tribute to Eli Beer, the Founder and President of United Hatzalah, who contracted the Covid-19 Coronavirus six weeks ago while in Miami on a fundraising trip to help the organization. Eli was in serious condition in the hospital and was placed on a ventilator in an induced coma for almost 30 days. 


“Eli was helped by many people including Dr, Miriam Adelson who gave him her personal jet to fly him back to Israel after his recovery from the disease just last week. He has dedicated his life to saving others and has helped so many people across the globe. Now, more than ever, he deserves our honor and support in his mission” Maisel added.   


Saving Lives Sunday: A Streaming Event Honoring First Responders and Welcoming Home Eli Beer will be taking place on Sunday, May 3rd, 8:00 p.m, Israel Time/ 6:00 p.m. GMT/ 1:00 p.m. EST/ 10:00 a.m. PST. To RSVP or donate please click here:

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Remembering the Fallen In The Time of Corona – United Hatzalah Volunteers Hold Special Ceremony for Fallen of INS Dakar

On Monday, Erev Yom HaZikaron, 69 Jewish, Christian and Muslim volunteers from the Givat Shmuel and Tel Aviv – Yaffo chapters of United Hatzalah held a special ceremony to honor the memories of the 69 fallen soldiers who lost their lives on the INS Dakar. The ceremony took place in the garden that is named for the Dakar fallen in Givat Shmuel. 

from the ceremony at Park Dakar on Monday

As per the regulations of the Health Ministry, the ceremony was held without the families of the fallen and ahead of Yom Hazikaron itself. 

Head of the Tel Aviv -Yaffo Chapter of United Hatzalah Dani Shmuel said: “We, the volunteers of United Hatzalah lit a candle for each and every member of the Dakar. One candle per soldier who lost their life.”

69 volunteers participate using social distancing in memory of the 69 fallen soldiers of the INS Dakar

Following the ceremony for the Dakar fallen, at the request of numerous families of other fallen soldiers, ten volunteers continued to the cemetery to say Kaddish over the graves of other fallen soldiers in the presence of their families and friends.

“I want to thank all of the volunteers who gave of their own time to come and participate in this important mitzvah on the eve of Yom HaZikaron (Memorial Day) for Israel’s fallen,” Shmuel added.  

The ceremony touched the hearts of family members of the Dakar soldiers as well as military personnel affiliated with the Navy, one of them, who wished to remain anonymous, wrote a message to President and Founder of United Hatzalah Eli Beer that said the following. 

“Thank G-d I am meriting to send you this Whatsapp after the events of this previous month, wherein G-d returned you to Am Yisrael. I want to tell you about a small, yet enormous operation that your organization did for the bereaved families of INS Dakar, a submarine where 69 fighters were lost.

Though they have no actual grave to visit, each year on Israel Memorial Day, the families gather in Dakar Park in Givat Shmuel where together they remember and honor the loved ones they lost.


One of the family members turned to me to ask, considering how different this year is for all of us, “What can we do? How can we honor our fallen?” I immediately approached the head of the Carmel regional chapter Naftali Rotenberg, an angel of kindness, and I told him about this yearly gathering of the families. Naftali immediately connected me with David Hershberg who told me, “Yes, there will be 69 volunteers, one for each of the fallen.” 


As always in our organization, immediately a Whatsapp group was opened and the head of the Givat Shmuel chapterת Asher Tzvi Shwerd immediately said yes, as did the heads of other chapters of central Israel.


Yesterday, the ceremony took place, the bereaved families received photos of the volunteers who’d come in their place, and they were very moved. One of them sent me a message that said: “Our children have been remembered. Am Yisrael is giving us back love.”


Dear Eli, yes, Israel needs you.  You have an organization that respects not only life but also those we’ve lost.


We pray and ask G-d to give you more many more years of health,”

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United Hatzalah Steps In To Help Bereaved Families On Yom Hazikaron

As the Coronavirus crisis continues to unfold, the Israeli government has issued a lockdown for Yom Hazikoron to prevent mass gatherings and further outbreaks of the virus.  United Hatzlah of Israel will, therefore, be sending its volunteers to the gravesides of IDF soldiers whose families cannot attend in person due to Coronavirus, in order to recite Kaddish and light a candle near the grave on their behalf. The volunteers will also film the proceedings and send the recording back to the family and friends of the fallen soldier.

A United Hatzalah paramedic walks next to a border police officer – Illustration

The initiative, which is being undertaken in full cooperation with and permission from Israel Police, will be done for any family of a fallen soldier who requests it due to their inability to be present due to the restrictions.


The initiative, which is being called “1221 Remembering One and All” was created by two United Hatzalah volunteers who met during their EMT training course, Etti Peretz from Beit Shemesh and Orli Masad from Ben Shemen. Orli is the widow of Tamir Masad who was one of three IDF soldiers killed in a suicide bombing at the Sonol gas station at the entrance to Ariel in Samaria while trying to prevent the terrorist from detonating the bomb. Masad had served in the Golani Commando Unit and was among the soldiers stationed at Beaufort in the First Lebanon War. 

A United Hatzalah EMT after assisting the IDF in the transport of a critical patient to a helicopter. (Illustration)

The friendship of Eti and Orli, one of whom is religiously observant, the other a secular Moshavnikit, represents the unity and spirit of volunteerism that brings together the more than 6,000 volunteers who make up United Hatzalah.   


Bereaved families who are unable to visit the graves of their loved ones, and who are interested in this initiative, are invited to fill out a form on the specially created website of anytime from now until Monday and request that United Hatzalah’s volunteers visit the grave, light a candle, recite Kaddish and record the visit on their behalf. 


Vice President of Operations of United Hatzalah Dov Maisel said: “For the bereaved families of Israeli soldiers and terror victims who are used to going to the graves of their loved ones year after year, light a candle, and say Kaddish, this year will be particularly difficult. This year they aren’t even able to receive a hug from their families and loved ones. The “1221 Remembering One and All” initiative was created in order to emphasize that in spite of the unusual circumstances that are affecting us all this year, we still remember and honor each and every one of the people who died and show our support for their families. We are also doing this as a sign of unity of the nation of Israel during these difficult times.”  


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