United Hatzalah volunteers
United Hatzalah volunteers

In one of the largest events that has ever been held by the organization, Israel’s national emergency medical services (EMS) organization, United Hatzalah, is inviting all 3,000 of their volunteers, together with their families, to gather together and enjoy a celebratory evening. The special night is being held in honor of the 30th anniversary of Hatzalah activity in Israel, and the 10th anniversary of the creation of United Hatzalah as a national EMS organization.

United Hatzalah will be hosting Avraham Fried and Ishay Ribo, as well as other musical performers and special guests, for what is expected to be a packed audience, with all tickets being sponsored by the organization for the volunteers and their families. Among the dignitaries slated to express their gratitude to the volunteer EMTs, paramedics, and doctors across the nation will be Jerusalem Mayor, Nir Barkat, and Chief Rabbi of Israel and the city of Tel Aviv-Yaffo, Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau.

Eli Beer, the Founder and President of United Hatzalah, spoke about the reason behind the mega-event. “During the nine days (a period of mourning commemorating the destruction of two temples in Jerusalem and other national tragedies) we commemorate the tragedies that befell our nation due to the divisiveness that tore our country apart thousands of years ago. But on the day after Tisha B’Av this year, we will celebrate the selflessness, the giving, the loving-kindness, and the dedication of our volunteers to their fellow man. To drop everything one is doing at any given moment of the day, to leave one’s place of work or family and rush to save the life of another human being is something that takes an incredible amount of human kindness. This is expressed every day by each one of our volunteers, and it does not go unnoticed. Today we will celebrate their devotion to the ideal of saving lives and all that goes with it. The unity and cooperation of people from different backgrounds is something that characterizes our organization and should serve as a model for the entire country.”

The Director of Israelife, Eli Pollak, echoed the sentiments made by Beer. “We hold our volunteer rescuers in the highest esteem. There is very little that can compare with their heroism. We have a policy to try to bring together our volunteers and help each individual chapter spread across the country become a family, regardless of the backgrounds of the volunteers. We hold chapter events and activities that are meant to unify each chapter and create a sense of integration. This is the first time we are holding a national event of this magnitude.” Israelife is the umbrella organization which supports United Hatzalah, Zaka, and Israel’s Search and Rescue Units.

The event is geared towards the families of the volunteers to show the appreciation for those who stand behind the volunteers. “We are a family that lives on families. When a father or mother is volunteering on an emergency call, it means that they are not home to share the burden of running the home. Each family sacrifices right alongside with the volunteer who is out on the call saving lives. We feel it is important to give back to the families and support them as much as we can,” said Pollak.

“We have arranged for discounts for our volunteers and their families over the course of the day at attractions around the city so that families from outside of Jerusalem can come and spend the day and enjoy themselves,” Pollak explained. Discounts have been arranged at the Jerusalem Zoo, Ein Yael National Park, The Kotel (Western Wall) Tunnels, and at the Time Tunnel.

“In ten short years we have reshaped the way that Israel deals with emergencies, and we will continue to work hard to do so over the next ten years, and even over the next thirty. Our numbers are growing and we are excited to bring more volunteers into the organization and our family. Our volunteers are our lifeblood. Without them, our community based organization would not exist. It is as simple as that,” concluded Pollak.

The doors will open for the mega-event saluting the EMS volunteers of United Hatzalah at the Jerusalem Pais Arena near Malha at 6:00 pm on Monday, August 15th. Speeches and performances are set to begin at 7:00 pm. Over 12,000 people are expected to be in attendance.