Grapevine: Here comes the bride? In an ambulance!

Zaka gets a bride to her wedding on time.

Bride ZAKA 370 (photo credit: Azriel Shnitzer)
Bride ZAKA 370
(photo credit: Azriel Shnitzer)
GENERALLY SPEAKING, ZAKA volunteers are called upon in times of tragedy and trauma, but this week ZAKA volunteer Berele Yaacovitz of Bnei Brak, who has been part of ZAKA’s search, rescue and life-saving efforts for more than a decade, was called for a different kind of emergency. A bride, whose wedding hall was located next to Kiryat Vishnitz, was getting married on the day of the funeral of Rabbi Moshe Yehoshua Hager, the Vishnitzer Rebbe. With the thousands of people who thronged the streets blocking her way, it was almost impossible for her to get to the wedding hall on time.
Thinking outside the box, the bride called the ZAKA hotline and explained her predicament. Within minutes, ZAKA had dispatched an ambulance to her door to drive her through the crowd. “This is the first time that I’ve been involved in a joyous event,” said Yacovitz, who was thrilled to have performed the mitzva. “It’s a truly emotional moment for me to see my vehicle, which has seen so much sorrow and tragedy, take a bride to her wedding.”
■ ECONOMIC CRISES notwithstanding, when Israel is under physical attack, Jews around the world open their hearts and their check books. That’s what happened this week at the annual national gala dinner in New York the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces. The event happened to coincide with the massive rocket attacks from Gaza on Israel’s southern communities.
The situation was brought closer to home by a satellite broadcast from a targeted area in the south in which Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz told more than 1,300 prominent business and philanthropic leaders, who had come from across America to the Waldorf Astoria hotel, about what was happening on the ground.
“The Iron Dome and active defense systems that we have now are a serious and historical milestone. I think we did right and we will do it in the future as well,” he declared.
Gantz also mentioned that the IDF had hunted down 22 terrorists in the Gaza Strip over the previous three days. Thanking the attendees for their partnership with the IDF soldiers, Gantz said: “This is very important for us to know that we are not alone.” Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who also spoke to the crowd via satellite, expressed his appreciation for the great work of both Israel’s soldiers and their supporters in the US. “The Jewish state has the capacity to resist attacks. The Israeli Army is the guarantor of our future. Thank you for standing by us,” he said.
One of the highlights of the evening was a video presentation in which Gilad Schalit thanked American Jewry for supporting the effort to have him released from Hamas captivity.
Among the guests who attended were the inimitable Dr. Ruth Westheimer, FIDF National Director Maj. Gen. (Res.) Yitzhak “Jerry” Gershon; FIDF National Chairman Nily Falic; FIDF Chairman Emeritus Arthur Stark; Israel Defense and Armed Forces Attaché to the US and Canada Maj.-Gen.
Gadi Shamni; Founder and president of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (IFCJ) Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein; and Israeli-American luxury fashion designer Elie Tahari. Benny Shabtai chaired the dinner for the 15th consecutive year, and author and nationally-syndicated radio host Dr.
Monica Crowley once again served as the evening’s MC.
Funds contributed were in excess of $25 million! This money will go towards higher-education scholarships for former combat soldiers, financial support for soldiers in need, and for Lone Soldiers from around the world. Funds raised by FIDF are also used for R&R for entire military units, as well as for educational, cultural and recreational facilities in army bases.
■ RUNNING TO the top of the circular Azrieli Tower in Tel Aviv used to be the great challenge for stair racers in Israel. But now the 187-meter high 49-floor structure with its 1,144 stairs is considered small potatoes compared to 252-meter high, 78-floor Moshe Aviv Tower in the Ramat Gan diamond district. The Moshe Aviv Tower poses a far greater challenge, not only because of its additional height, but because it has two flights of stairs with 1,459 stairs on each leading to the top of the building.
Nadav Ben-Yehuda, 23, decided that competing in last Friday’s stair race in the Moshe Aviv Tower was good practice for his projected climb of Mount Everest, and proved just how extraordinarily fit he was by running up the staircase 13 times, thereby breaking the previous Israeli record of 9,152 stairs. Competing with Ben-Yehuda were prospective army rookies who have been assigned to combat units, and athletes from the Zeus Club. Impressed by Ben-Yehuda’s prowess, philanthropists Leonid and Olesya Nevzlin decided to sponsor Ben- Yehuda’s trek to Mount Everest. Aside from anything else, the young winner’s first name must have struck a chord, in that Nevzlin is the founder of the Nadav Foundation which engages in various philanthropic enterprises.
If Ben-Yehuda succeeds in his ambition to reach the top of Mount Everest, which is 8,850 meters high, he will be the youngest Israeli to do so – but not the youngest person.
That honor belongs to Temba Tsheri, a Sherpa from Nepal, who started his climb at age 15 but celebrated his 16th birthday by the time he reached the peak in 2001. Still, Ben-Yehuda can claim to be the champion stair racer of Israel’s tallest building.
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