“In Israel, No One Is Left Alone in the Dark”

On Monday, more than a dozen students from Yeshiva University decided to spend their winter break in Israel learning about the effects that volunteering can have on a community. As part of their week-long trip, the group visited United Hatzalah, Israel’s national volunteer emergency medical services organization. The objective of the visit was for the students to gain a better understanding of how the organization works and how it affects the communities throughout Israel.


The Yeshiva University trip was partially funded by the university and partially by the students themselves. It focused on the different responses that Israeli communities had to the wave of fires that plagued the country at the end of November.

Students from Yeshive University and Stern College visit the United Hatzalah national headquarters in Jerusalem
Students from Yeshive University and Stern College visit the United Hatzalah national headquarters in Jerusalem

Gabi Sackett, the Program Director for Yeshiva University in Israel, said that the common denominator among the participants is that “each of them wants to learn how they can help on their own and to understand what they can do on a personal, as well as national level. Answering those questions is the goal of this trip, and we are hoping to do it in a way that is both educational, experiential and fun.”


Sackett said that the visit to United Hatzalah’s headquarters really put into perspective just how much one person can do. “After participating in a two-hour session, we saw just how much people devote themselves to helping others. People dedicate their entire lives to this cause, and that is amazing. We are going to take a lesson from this about how to dedicate ourselves to helping in the future in every way possible.”


Martin Galla, the Assistant Director of the Counselling Center of Yeshiva University who joined the students from their New York campus said that he felt the visit was incredibly important for the students. “This visit was very enlightening. I never understood just how important knowing CPR is. I’ve heard about it in the past, but never really knew how vital it is. Now I understand that it is something that everyone should know and I think that a lot of us feel motivated to learn more about CPR and to find out how much we can help others, even if we see someone in need of help in the street. Just by knowing a few basic things, even if a person is a bystander, they can help so much. This visit was important just for that.”


Betzalel Sosne, a student participant of the group who hails from Michigan said that “Visiting United Hatzalah and seeing the how many volunteers are dedicated to putting other people’s needs before their own was a true inspiration.”


A pre-dentistry student Gavriel Rakovsky, said that visiting United Hatzalah has given him more confidence to make aliyah and move to Israel. “I gathered a sense of being safer here than in America. As advanced as America is, knowing that this organization exists in Israel makes it more comfortable for me to consider moving here. Knowing that when a savta falls, she will be taken care of and not left alone in the dark. Things like that make me feel that here is a better place to be.”


Leah Faygle, from Flatbush, New York, said that there is something unique about the volunteers themselves.  “The character of the people here is one of being helpful. From what I’ve seen, even having someone open the door for me, it showed me that United Hatzalah attracts a crowd of people who have a genuine need to help others. It is something that is really nice to see that more than just helping save lives, people here help out whenever they can, even opening doors for others.”


Manny Dahari, who is a veteran of visiting the organization said that each time he comes he leaves with renewed inspiration. “I’ve been here three times, and every time I come, I leave more inspired than the last. I want to train to become an EMT just because I have come here and spoken to people here in this organization such as Eli Beer. While they are offering a new EMT course at Yeshiva University, I want United Hatzalah to come and open a course and chapter in New York.”


The students weren’t the only ones inspired by the visit. Eli Beer, President and Founder of United Hatzalah, was also inspired by the visit. “Whenever I see young students coming from Israel or abroad, and becoming uplifted by the message of our 3,000 volunteers who drop whatever they are doing to rush out and save lives every day, it reminds me of the power of our organization to enable change in the world. Our model is built upon a community-based response. Our power is within the communities that we serve and we are there for them. Seeing students light up when they hear that message, lets me know that our organization’s life-saving model has a strong future ahead of it.”