United Hatzalah of Israel and Hatzolah of Los Angeles joined forces and held a gala event in honor of the volunteer heroes who save lives every day. The event, which took place on Wednesday at the Beverly Hilton International Ballroom in Beverly Hills, California, was titled “The Heroes of Hatzolah Gala.” Both organizations saluted the men and women who volunteer and put their own lives on hold to save the lives of complete strangers. The event was attended by over 750 people and marked the first time that the local Los Angeles emergency medical services (EMS) organization Hatzolah and the Israeli national EMS United Hatzalah officially worked together.

(From left to right) United Hatzalah EMT Gavy Friedson, and Founder and President of United Hatzalah Eli Beer, Present the Hatzalah Champions Award to Elie and Siona Alyeshmerni
(From left to right) United Hatzalah EMT Gavy Friedson, and Founder and President of United Hatzalah Eli Beer, Present the Hatzalah Champions Award to Elie and Siona Alyeshmerni

Among the notable attendees was the Consul General of Israel, 9-1-1 first responders, and many local police and fire chiefs, as well as other local officials and Mark Gerson, the chairman of United Hatzalah. During one heart-wrenching moment, a 6-year-old boy who was saved by Hatzalah got up on stage and thanked the organization for saving his life. “I want to thank you for saving my life and allowing me to be a kiddush Hashem (sanctification of God’s presence) for the Jewish people.” United Hatzalah founder Eli Beer said during the event, “I started volunteering when I was 15 years old with a few guys from my neighborhood, and today look at this room full of people that love and support Hatzalah!”

Elie and Siona Alyeshmerni, who were the honorees of the evening and the Hatzalah Champions Award recipients, explained why they feel such a close connection to the organization and how they have made it their mission to help United Hatzalah grow throughout Israel and the world. “Early on, my eyes were opened to a way of giving that I could have never imagined. I understood that we have to stand up for each other,” Elie said while describing how he reacted to immigrating to America. When Siona and I heard the story of Eli Beer, and how he overcame obstacles to create United Hatzalah, we looked at each other and said ‘wow.’ So began our relationship with Eli Beer and the organization.”

“His dedication and his devotion to others was unparalleled in my experience,” added Siona.

“Hatzalah is a worldwide emergency medical service movement. What makes us unique is our dedicated and passionate volunteers, our human connection, our intensive training, and our depth of caring. In Israel alone, we have 3,000 volunteers and we still need to grow. Our dedicated team responds to over 800 calls per day and, in my opinion, there is no faster response than Superman himself,” said Gavy Friedson, a volunteer EMT who has been with the organization for the past nine years.

Elie said that he and his wife wanted to make a difference and therefore raised over $100,000 through the Sinai Temple’s Men’s club to purchase ambucycles in Israel. “An ambucycle is a revolutionary concept,” said Friedson. “It is an ambulance on two wheels and has everything that an EMT needs to save a life.”

“We were so touched and moved by the heroism of the ambucycle riders that we wanted to donate one in honor of our nephew who passed away in Israel,” said Elie. “We are dedicated to United Hatzalah because for us they bring together two significant values in Judaism, saving lives and saving the world through selfless acts of heroism.” Siona added that she believes that “all blessing come from God, and we are so blessed to be part of this organization. It gives people a chance to grow up and be.”