Over my career, there have been many things I have been proud of. Seeing how the organization I created has grown, and seeing how many lives have been touched by the more than 6,000 volunteers who rush out to assist people suffering medical emergencies every day, certainly top that list. But with regards to operations that have been undertaken by United Hatzalah, perhaps the one that makes me most proud is our current national project that we are conducting in partnership with the Claims Conference of reaching out to all of the home-bound Holocaust survivors in Israel and making sure that they are able to receive their vaccines.
Now, on the anniversary of contracting COVID-19 myself, I have had time to reflect on just how much this awful disease almost took from me. A year ago, I was hospitalized in Miami and shortly thereafter was diagnosed with COVID-19. The disease almost claimed my life, and when I was put into a medically induced coma by the doctors there, I said goodbye to my family, thinking that I would never see them again. I had a very slim chance of survival. Thankfully, I survived, and I have made it my mission to make sure that people don’t have to go through what I suffered. It is for that reason, and so many others, that I am extremely proud of this project.
The organization developed a brand-new dispatch center dedicated to the project and is in the process of calling all 20,000 home-bound Holocaust survivors. Each survivor will be receiving a personal phone call and, if they have not yet done so, our volunteers will offer to make arrangements to get them an appointment to receive their vaccination and provide direct transportation in one of our organization’s ambulances to and from the vaccination center.
I am proud that we are able to initiate and conduct this important operation. At a time when the national objective is to offer vaccinations to everyone in the country, we must make sure that those who are most in need of this vaccine but are stuck at home do not get left behind. For people who have suffered from the worst atrocities in human history, I see it as our national responsibility that they should be able to receive the vaccine as quickly as possible and no longer fear the coronavirus.
I am proud that we have partnered with the Claims Conference to make sure this program succeeds at reaching every single home-bound survivor across the country so that not a single person is left behind.
Moreover, this operation fits well with our Ten Kavod project wherein our volunteers visit elderly people from their own communities, including Holocaust survivors, on a weekly basis to help them maintain their health and combat sensations of loneliness. We must make every effort to help these people maintain as healthy a lifestyle as possible. As a people, we owe them our respect and our support. If we can make their lives a little bit easier, by providing this service, then it is a mission that I am proud to undertake.
The writer is the father of five children, a social entrepreneur and president and founder of United Hatzalah of Israel, an independent, nonprofit, fully volunteer EMS organization that provides fast and free emergency first response throughout Israel.