On Thursday night, thousands of holiday celebrants filled the Jerusalem Convention Center for an unforgettable concert. The crowd came to show their support for Israel’s national volunteer emergency medical services (EMS) organization, United Hatzalah. The concert featured renowned singers of Chassidish music Avraham Fried and Lipa Schmeltzer together with Cantor Itzchak Meir Helfgot.
The show opened to thunderous applause from the audience as Avraham Fried started the show with a holiday medley of songs composed by Shlomo Carlebach. The crowd immediately got into the music and dancing began in the chairs and aisles, and continued throughout the event. This is Fried’s second concert in three months in support of the organization. The first concert in August featured Avraham Fried singing at a tribute concert for a crowd of thousands of United Hatzalah volunteers and their families from across Israel. Fried, who is no stranger to the organization, took some time out before the concert began to talk about why he supports United Hatzalah so staunchly.
“United Hazalah is close to my heart,” explained Fried. “ Eli Beer (the Founder and President of United Hatzalah) is a great guy and he runs a critical and wonderful organization that helps save lives. Whatever I can do to be a part of that, to help that, I am here. Hineni.” When asked to elaborate why he believes United Hatzalah to be so critical, Fried responded by saying, “You know Love of thy fellow man is a big mitzvah (commandment) in the Torah, one of the biggest. Most of us go through our lives, and we can do acts of loving kindness in our lives, helping people across the street and other instances. But here you have 3,000 volunteers going through their lives and 24/7 they are willing to put everything on hold to help save the lives of their fellow people. There is no greater act of loving kindness than that.” Fried said that “it is humbling and an honor to be invited to become a part of that”.
Fried focused on the strength of the organization coming from within the community. Illustrating that there is a place for everyone to be able to help their fellow, Fried said that “United Hatzalah saves lives, they save bodies. Music is the language of the soul. Souls can be touched and inspired and uplifted. For the last 40 years, I’ve been trying to do just that. To give strength to others. People today need a lot of help. We are all able to help in our own way. Some can save lives, some can touch souls, some can say a good word and make someone smile, everyone can be involved in bringing strength and good cheer to people. In essence, people can perform their own ‘hatzalah’ no matter where they are, and I am happy to be a part of this Hatzalah and help this organization.”
During the event, Eli Beer awarded the Ambassadorship of Hatzalah to Bob Book and Yaron Lemelbaum for their continued support of the organization. Book and Lemelbaum accepted their awards on stage and were joined by volunteer paramedic Muawia Kabha who is a Muslim from Nazareth, Israel’s first deaf EMT Nechama Loebel, and two other volunteers.
In a very touching moment, Beer called up to the stage Yulia, a woman whose life was saved by Kabha. Yulia’s 10-year-old son accompanied her to the stage and had a special message for Kabha. “Thank you for saving my mother. I have her because of you,” he said. Both Book, who adopted Kabha under United Hatzalah’s Adopt a Medic program, and Lemelbaum were deeply moved. Another audience member, Yaelle Meyer, said after the concert that the meeting between Kabha and Yulia was the most moving part of the evening. “The meeting really exemplified the goal of bringing together the varying sectors of Israeli society in order to achieve the overriding goal of saving lives.”
Kabha said that the prize he was presented with should really go to Eli Beer, “for without him the organization would not exist.” Lemelbaum said that “I am proud and happy to receive this gift from a man like Eli Beer. Eli donates the entirety of his life to saving others. I hope that United Hatzalah continues to grow and expand it’s amazing work for many years to come.”
“United Hatzalah is a tremendous story and a remarkable organization,” said Bob Book as he witnessed the reunion of Muawia and Yulia. “This organization shows the world how important every single life is. Whenever someone is in trouble you are there. I am proud to be a partner of such an organization.”