April 14, 2024
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United Hatzalah Draws $6 Million In Donations at Annual Gala

After one of the most difficult years in United Hatzalah’s history, it was time to celebrate and secure the future.

Over 1,000 people gathered in New York City on the night of May 24 to support the ground-breaking, life-saving 6,200-volunteer emergency medical service. The Friends of United Hatzalah of Israel’s third annual gala came a year after COVID-19 nearly took the life of Hatzalah’s founder, and in the wake of crisis after crisis that tested the organization’s mettle and stretched its resources.

“We dealt with a few waves of COVID in Israel, some of which were very difficult. We had lockdowns. Then we had the Mount Meron tragedy, which is the worst in my lifetime that I remember, and we were all involved there performing CPR and helping over 300 people. Then we had the war in Gaza a year ago. Then we had the Surfside disaster. This last year was so busy and challenging for us, and now we’re operating on two fronts. We have 6,000 volunteers in Israel, and we have 200 volunteers involved in Ukraine,” United Hatzalah Founder and President Eli Beer told JNS.

Beer himself fell gravely ill with COVID and said he didn’t believe he would survive his second coma. He spent a month in a hospital in Miami. However, Beer said he feared more for the organization’s future than his own.

“I was worried about United Hatzalah more than anything because I’m still the founder. It’s not like the next generation has taken over. I was worried that if something happened to me, that something could happen to United Hatzalah. In [what I thought might be] my last words, I said to continue volunteering, continue leading the organization, continue supporting it.
I was worried if I die, people will stop supporting the organization because people know me, they met me, and I was surprised when I woke up a month after being in a coma on a ventilator, that the organization was doing better than before,” said Beer, who credited United Hatzalah’s board and chairman. Beer said the experience taught him it was time to put a succession plan in place.

After his health scare, Beer was accompanied on his return to Israel by Miami-based physician Dr. Zev Neuwirth, who was honored by Hatzalah for his volunteer medical work in Ukraine, from where he recently returned after a five-week mission.

It is the actions of people like Neuwirth that drove donors to deliver $6 million in pledges at the gala.

Famed attorney Alan Dershowitz addressed the gathering, placing Hatzalah a close second behind the Israel Defense Forces in regard to using God-given Jewish intelligence to develop ways to save lives.

“It is one of the most important representatives of the Jewish state in a hostile world. Nobody can disagree with Hatzalah. You can disagree with anything else involving Israel, but Hatzalah unites Jews, Arabs and Christians, haredim and secular. It has one goal: pikuach nefesh. That’s all. It’s a goal that unites the entire Jewish community,” said Dershowitz.

United Hatzalah’s service is available to all people regardless of race, religion or national origin, utilizing unique GPS technology to deliver an average response time of less than three minutes across Israel and 90 seconds in metropolitan areas.

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