On the same day that saw Israel’s national volunteer EMS service respond to yet another terror attack in Jerusalem, the Miami community in Florida honored that same emergency medical service (EMS). This was one of the numerous events in which Israel’s volunteer EMS service United Hatzalah was honored around the United States during the week around Israel’s Independence Day. In addition to events that took place in New York on Independence Day, this special event was also held in honor of United Hatzalah and the JNF by Chabad of the Grove in Miami Florida on Monday, May 16th.

An ambucycle in front of the Old City walls in Jerusalem
An ambucycle in front of the Old City walls in Jerusalem

The event was labelled “Israel for All”. In addition to featuring these two national organizations the event hosted the Consul General of Israel, Lior Haiat and provided a first hand look into a new IDF unit. Additionally, Deputy Director of International Relations, Gavriel Friedson, spoke about his experience working as an ambucycle medic for United Hatzalah.

The theme of the event was Unity and Inclusion within Israeli society. The JNF was selected for sponsoring the IDF’s work with Special in Uniform, a program that integrates youth with disabilities into the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and assists in preparing them for careers after their army service.

“United Hatzalah was selected for the evening due to its life-saving work as well as the inclusive policy that the organization maintains allowing people of all faiths, religions and walks of life, to work and volunteer in the organization and help save lives across the country” said Danielle Elyse David, a Senior Development Advisor for the organization in Florida. “Counted among the 3,000 volunteers who are part of United Hatzalah, are religious and secular Jews, Arabs, Druze and others. Being a United Hatzalah volunteer means that saving lives comes first and one’s personal life comes second,” added David, “it is one of the things that makes our volunteers special. They put their lives on hold in order to save strangers, and they do it as volunteers.”

United Hatzalah utilizes cutting edge technology and its large volunteer network in order to cut down EMS response time to under three minutes on a national average. In addition, the innovative and speedy life-saving model is offered free of charge to the patient.

One of the organizers of the event, Rabbi Getzy Fellig of Avenue J and Landau Yeshiva said regarding the event, “The event was designed to highlight the inclusive programs that Israel provides within the country itself. United Hatzalah is an example of a group that assist people regardless of who the person is. They help people every single day. The JNF program with the IDF integrates the special needs community in the IDF. Israel is constantly looking for ways to be all inclusive in ways that most countries don’t. This program with the IDF and United Hatzalah are programs of inclusiveness that don’t exist in other places.”

Fellig continued stating that these organizations are more important now than ever. “In a time where you have movements such as BDS and others that are constantly trying to make the claim that Israel is an apartheid state, that it is all about separation and divisiveness, we came to show that this is absolutely not true. Chabbad is supporting these two organizations as the tenement of Love thy neighbor like thyself, is such an important rule in Judaism, and these organizations exemplify that rule. In all facets of Israeli society, regardless of any other factors, organisations such as these always look for ways to make Israel truly for all.”

David said that the “organizers hope that through the event the community in Miami will learn more about these organizations and actively take part in helping out with their projects in order to continue to make Israel more inclusive for all.” She added on behalf of her organization that “it is our hope at United Hatzalah that participants will join in our effort to continue to make Israel a model for EMS volunteer life-saving activities throughout the world,” she concluded.