Alan Tennenberg on the newly inaugurated ambucycle his family donated.
Alan Tennenberg on the newly inaugurated ambucycle his family donated.

One might think that the life-saving equipment needed by EMS organizations such as United Hatzalah in Israel are given by large international philanthropists or businesses, but in reality many of the more expensive pieces of life-saving equipment such as ambucycles, , are donated by private individuals, many of whom live right here in Israel. Each of these donations has a story as to how it came about, and begins a story of countless lives being saved as a direct result of it.

Alan and Chedva Tennenberg are two such individuals, who just last week inaugurated the ambucycle that they donated to United Hatzalah in the city of Modi’in. While the couple is originally from East Brunswick, New Jersey, last July they decided to make the city of Modi’in their home, and shortly thereafter they decided to improve that home by donating an ambucycle to the local chapter of United Hatzalah. The donation came about as the couple felt that they wanted to do something to help raise the level of emergency care in their new city.

The story of the donation began when Alan met United Hatzalah’s Founder Eli Beer on a business trip, at a Shabbat dinner in Davos during the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting. Eli walked over to Alan and brought him in and helped him find a seat. “every time Eli noticed someone who hadn’t found a place to sit at this very crowded dinner, he would bring them over, give them his chair, and then try to find another place for himself. I saw him do this several times. Eli was thinking of everyone but himself. recounted Alan. This made a lasting impression on Alan, who works as the Chief Medical Officer of Johnson and Johnson Global Public Health.

Alan then made it his business to learn more about Eli and what he does. “After watching Eli in action that evening and learning more about United Hatzalah, I knew that a gift to this organization would be put to good use. For Eli, it’s all about the people he helps and his volunteers. Alan’s wife Chedva said that “we believe that United Hatzalah is another way to strengthen healthcare at the community level,” a topic which is close to both of their hearts.

The couple, who have 4 children, used the meeting as a catalyst to decide where to donate money to help out the community that they now call home. After hearing of the life-saving work and encountering it first hand on two separate occasions, the Tennenbergs decided to donate a new ambucycle, with the request that it stay in the community of Modi’in and the surrounding area.

Shortly after the ambucycle was donated, but before the inauguration, Alan, who is a veteran bicycle rider, was in a bicycle accident near Beit Shemesh. One of the first responders to arrive on the scene was a United Hatzalah volunteer. “My mother not so long ago was feeling ill and she telephoned emergency services for help,” recalled Chedva, “the first people to arrive were also United Hatzalah responders.”

Chedva said that these two incidents, together with all of the positive feedback and interaction that the couple felt with the organization, gave them the feeling that they had made the right choice in deciding where to make their donation. “We feel very good about the organization and what it does. The fact that they were the first ones to help really meant something to us, and we are very happy to be able to help out this wonderful organization.”

Chedva took her praise of United Hatzalah one step further. “I highly recommend that other people learn about the organization, and get involved if they can. It is truly a wonderful organization and it does great work. It feels great being a partner in the organization and knowing how much good they do. It gives me hope to know that individual people can step up and make a difference and help.”

One person making a difference is what the organization is all about. United Hatzalah was started by 15 individual volunteers in Jerusalem and now is a nationally recognized EMS first response organization that boasts over 3,000 volunteers. Last year alone, the organization helped 260,000 people by providing them with first aid and medical treatment. To help continue to build this infrastructure by providing even one ambucycle means that the 3 minute response time that United Hatzalah maintains across the country can be shortened further and more lives can be saved. “We are very excited that this is happening. We wanted to do something real, and once we thought of an ambucycle, we said let’s do that. It’s how we felt we could give back to the community and how we wanted to make a difference,” said Chedva.    

The inauguration of the new ambucycle took place on Wednesday night at the Tennenberg’s home and the couple was ecstatic to host the event.