Where Life and Hearts Meet

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There is a customary Jewish saying, – “one who saves one soul, it is as if he saved the entire world.” ~ Sanhedrin 37a. Magen David Adom (MDA) is the official “Red Cross Society” of Israel, serving as the epitome answer to this saying.

Last week, at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, in Beverly Hills, California, at their annual gala, the American Friends of Magen David Adom (AFMDA), West Coast USA, confirmed to the world that saving life is first on the list in Israel and for those who support the Jewish State.

This was a gala to admire. It set the bar very high. Hosted by Jay Leno, who was very moved by the event. “People ask me why I support Israel,” he told the audience. “My reply is, ‘we need to support sane people and Israelis are the sane ones in an insane region.'”

Recipient of Humanitarian of the Year Award, Dr. Bill Dorfman, surrounded by family
David Wiener, recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award

During the evening, AFMDA awarded David Wiener, a Holocaust survivor philanthropist, with the Lifetime Achievement Award, presented to him by the Beverly Hilton owner, Beny Alagem; the Humanitarian of the Year Award to Dr. Bill Dorfman (LEAP Foundation), presented by Tracey Bergman of the soap opera series The Young and the Restless; the Next Generation Award to Gina Edwards, presented by J.R. Martinez; Magen David Adom’s Wartime Medics special presentation to Eli Bin, Director General Magen David Adom in Israel. The evening was sealed with the awesome performance of the legendary singer and song writer Paul Anka.

Jay Leno at the event
Paul Anka performing

The highlight of the evening was the story of two Israeli citizens who were going about their life while Hamas fired close to 5,000 rockets into Israel during Protective Edge War. Their story of getting hit by shrapnel, being saved and meeting their MDA first responders rescue team at the gala in Beverly Hills brought tears to every person in the audience.

The paramedic angel of Jehan Barman is Dr. Oren Wacht. The paramedic angels of the 16 year old Yarin Levi, are Einav Asulin, who arrived to treat bleeding Yarin first, followed by Naomi Zvi, Israel’s first paramedic, who arrived at the scene with the MICU (medical intensive care unit) and treated Yarin on the ground.

I happened to be sitting at the same table with Rom and Avinoam, Yarin’s parents and their son Yarin, and so I heard the story first hand.

Yarin Levi Cen
Yarin Levi Center with paramedic angels Naomi Zvi-L and Einav Asulin

On July 13, 2014, during the Protective Edge War this summer, Yarin went to get a funky haircut at a barber shop located a five minute walk from his home in the southern town of Asheklon, Israel. He was about two minutes away from his home when the Color Red siren went off, warning about a rocket attack from Gaza. “He did not have the 15 seconds needed to get to a shelter, nor there was a hiding place where he was at that time before the boom was heard,” his mother, Mor, was telling me the story.

“The iron Dome could not intercept the rocket and it fell 4 meters away from where Yarin was standing. Several pieces of shrapnel penetrated his chest, one entered his lung and got lodged in his rib. At the location where Yarin was wounded there is a small grove area. Wounded Yarin turned back to reach his home but fell unconscious on the ground in the grove. Since MDA alert level is high, they heard the boom and they immediately dispatched an ambulance toward where the rocket fell. When the MDA ambulance arrived at the scene, they did not see anyone who needed help. Yarin, who collapsed in the forest was not visible to them,”

Rom drew the area scene for me.

“Luckily,” she continued, “our neighbor’s curiosity took the better of him. When he heard the rocket falling boom he went toward the area and there he saw Yarin laying on the ground unconscious and bleeding. The neighbor is our good friend and he started to cry and scream and the paramedics in the ambulance nearby heard him and rushed to Yarin. If the events were different, Yarin would not be alive today,”

Rom continued her emotional story. Yarin, who attends a technology high school in Rehovot and wants to be an electronic engineer, spent one month in the hospital and was operated on, to remove part of his lung. When AFMDA West Coast invited Jehan Barman, Yarin and his parents to partake in their annual gala, none knew whom they were going to meet. There are no words to describe the emotions in the hall.

The long hugs and the tears attested to the forever thankful parents, and the survivors Jehan and Yarin, both of whom, anonymous MDA paramedics saved.

Now they are all a family, Naomi Tzvi pointed at her own son and her newly adopted son Yarin.

A Whole World: MDA’s Work During Operation Protective Edge from AFMDA on Vimeo.

Before his son’s life was saved by MDA, when Avinoam Levi saw an ambulance passing by, it did not have any definite meaning for him. He was aware of MDA but nothing else. Now, whenever he sees an ambulance passing by, his heart beats fast and his emotions overwhelm him, because, “when one saves one soul, it is as if he saves the entire world, and this is the entire world,” he says and tearfully points at his son Yarin.

One has to admit, Israel has been at war since its inception and life in the Jewish state that could be described as a lamb residing in a den filled with hungry wolves, is vulnerable. The service of first responders is a lifeline to every citizen in Israel.

Among all other responsibilities, the work of AFMDA involves perpetual replacing of its ambulance fleet. In this gala several fully loaded ambulances were donated and approximately $6 million dollars were donated toward the building of the largest underground blood bank, which Israel so badly needs. More interesting, Israel is now using motorbikes for first response. A fleet of now 1,600 bikes, equipped with first aid tools, can reach where needed, at speed, and thus attend to the needy way before the ambulance arrives. It is one other measure to save life promptly.

Israel’s defense line is three fold: the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), the Iron Dome and Magen David Adom, which means the Red Shield of [King] David.

MDA is Israel’s national blood bank and blood knows no color. In Israel MDA serves the entire Jewish, Christian and Moslem population, indiscriminately.

For almost 67 years, Israel has been fighting for her existence and it seems as if the fight has just begun. Now, more than ever, Israel is in an unfathomable danger from the north and the south. MDA is Israel’s lifeline, the 911 emergency line; 1,800 full time employees and 13,000 volunteers operate this lifeline, operating a system that works relentlessly and with dedication to save life in the beleaguered state.

MDA is 100% privately funded. Without world Jewry and other supporters of Israel, there would be no MDA, there would be no blood bank and lives in Israel would be lost at an alarming rate. For that matter, it is up to all of us to maintain and support Magen David Adom, Israel.

AFMDA West Coast USA Board Chair Paul Guerin and President Dina Leeds
From LParamedic Ravit Martinez, Alon Fridman MDA Director, Logistics Division, Eli Bin, Director General, MDA, paramedic Lonny Luxenburg next to MDA first responder’s bike

Israel is the global project of the Jewish people. By helping MDA, supporters are not only helping Israel, they are also helping to heal the world over. So when next you see the Red David Star, remember, your contributed help to the organization will help saving a life somewhere in Israel and beyond.

During the 2006 second Lebanon War, Nurit Greenger, referenced then as the “Accidental Reporter” felt compelled to become an activist. Being an ‘out-of-the-box thinker, Nurit is a passionately committed advocate for Jews, Israel, the United States, and the Free World in general. From Southern California, Nurit serves as a “one-woman Hasbarah army” for Israel who believes that if you stand for nothing, you will fall for anything.