President and Founder of United Hatzalah, Eli Beer, spoke to a large crowd gathered at the Manetto Hill Synagogue in Plainview, NY,  on Sunday. The speech kicked off an ongoing campaign that has been undertaken by the synagogue to raise money to purchase new ambucycles for the emergency medical services (EMS) organization in Israel.

The campaign, which is being organised by the synagogue’s Israel and Jewish Affairs Committee, is being spearheaded by Barry Katz. “My uncle Bernie introduced me to the life-saving work that United Hatzalah does via their ambucycles. Before he told me about it, I had never heard of the concept of having a motorcycle equipped with all of the medical gear that an ambulance has. The ambucycle idea cuts down on response time by allowing the EMT or paramedic to cut through traffic and arrive at the scene of an emergency before an ambulance. It is simply fantastic.”

Eli Beer with Barry Katz at the Manetto Hill Synagogue this week
Eli Beer with Barry Katz at the Manetto Hill Synagogue this week

Katz recalled how his uncle opened his eyes to the concept. “We were talking and he said that he was donating an ambucycle in memory of his wife Shirley, and I asked what that was. He directed me to the Israel Rescue website and I was very interested. I thought that this is something that our entire community can get on board with – saving lives in Israel and really making a difference.” Katz mentioned that the Plainview community had previously gathered together to donate an ambulance to Israel approximately ten years ago.   

The Manetto Hill Synagogue and Jewish Center is just one of many synagogues in the community. Others include, two Orthodox synagogues, three Conservative synagogues, one Chabad synagogue and a Reform Temple. According to Katz, campaign organizers will be reaching out to all of them to help support this project. “We want this project to be a community effort; one that unifies all of us. It isn’t just our synagogue that is interested in supporting this project, or saving lives in Israel, it is all of us. We have all supported such ideas for many years. The more we as a community can achieve the more lives we can save and the more we will be able to feel that we made a genuine impact”.
Katz added that there is a general interest and widespread support in the concept of helping to save lives in Israel, but not enough people know about the use of ambucycles. “I have spoken to a lot of people in the past month while we were organizing this event and they were all wondering why we don’t have this concept in the United States. So many people are completely unaware that this is happening. Once we let people know that these vehicles are used in Israel every day, they are immediately inspired. This can be something that snowballs and that other communities can get behind to support as well. I personally believe that many synagogues should get involved with this project, as it is truly remarkable. From Rabbis to the Hebrew schools, we are all throwing our support behind it. This isn’t just a synagogue initiative. We want it to be a community initiative.”