Rabbi Zev Reichman brought a group of fathers and sons from East Hills Synagogue in Englewood, New Jersey to visit Israel’s national volunteer emergency medical services (EMS) organization United Hatzalah last week.
The visit was prompted by the desire to help educate the group about the difference that one person can create in the world. United Hatzalah was picked, along with a few other locations, to exemplify this message embodied by the outstanding work done by Founder and President Eli Beer, whose mission has been the creation of the national response organization that now has branches and affiliated organizations in numerous countries around the world. Among these locations is Jersey City, NJ, which boasts the volunteer EMS organization United Rescue.
Over the past thirty years since Eli began working as a volunteer EMT, Beer has seen to the founding and unification of a national response team that increased from five friends saving lives to an organization of over 3,000 trained and fully equipped first responders in Israel, and others across the globe. Eli’s work has seen the average national EMS response time in Israel shrink from between seven and ten minutes to under three minutes. Due to the technology, transportation, and community-based volunteer responders, United Hatzalah has been instrumental in saving hundreds of thousands of lives in Israel each year.
“The power of an individual to make a difference is very inspiring for all of us. To see all of these volunteers save lives is something that we can each learn from,” said Rabbi Reichman during the visit. “We’ve been close to the organization for many years now. From my point of view, United Hatzalah is an organization where people give of themselves to save lives, and that is the highest Jewish value. To see people devoted to saving lives, and through that creating unity, with Haredi and Arab volunteers helping the state of Israel, shows just how beautiful this organization really is.”
When asked what message the group would be taking home, Rabbi Reichman responded by saying, “I think the message is that everyone can make a difference and that if a person cares deeply enough when there is a crisis we don’t need to ignore it and just cluck our tongue in sadness and sympathy, but we can get up and do something. We can learn how to be EMTs. We can innovate the idea of an ambucycle. If you really want to make a difference you can. You can save lives and make the world a better place.”