The definition of quarterback is: a player positioned behind the center who directs a team's offensive play. Or, a person, or entity, who leads or directs a group or activity.

And that is what Magen David Adom, Red David Shield, Israel’s comparable Red Cross organization, all about. It leads and directs the country when it comes to the rush to save life.

Israel is a country on alert, daily, and the paramedics in Israel, members of the organization Magen David Adom have their hands constantly so very full.

Magen David Adom (MDA) is Israel’s national emergency medical response organization and is a member of the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, providing skilled disaster-relief, ambulance and blood services, to Israel’s 8 million citizens. MDA, largely manned by volunteers, is the only organization mandated by the government of Israel to serve in this role, however, its operations are not funded by the government. Instead, MDA relies on donations from around the world to sustain its work capability.

To fill the coffers with the needed funds American Friends of Magen David Adom (AFMDA) was founded and it is considered to be the largest supporter of MDA, worldwide.

Early November, 2015, at The Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, California, American Friends of Magen David Adom (AFMDA), celebrated its fourth annual Red Star Ball.

The flag of Israel by the visiting medics-photo by FMDA PR West End Strategy Team-photo by FMDA PR West End Strategy Team

A record of nearly $14 million were pledged to make sure that MDA in Israel is fully operative. The funds raised support MDA’s lifesaving services and will help complete the state-of-the-art, underground blood bank facility - the MDA Marcus National Blood Services Center, first of its kind in the world, designated to provide 97% of the nation’s blood supply.

There is a reason Israel’s blood supply goes underground. Magen David Adom’s current blood center was built in the 1980s. Since then, Israel’s population has doubled, and terror and rockets almost daily attacks, as well as unforeseen natural disasters are a threat to the country’s blood supply. A larger, more modern, more secured blood center is the only way to ensure that MDA can provide the blood needed when a catastrophe or warfare occur.

The Red Star Ball, chaired by Dina and Fred Leeds with Dina serving as AFMDA Western Region president, hosts Adele and Beny Alagem, owner of the Beverly Hilton, honored David Suissa, President of Tribe Media and publisher of the Los Angeles Jewish Journal with the Humanitarian of the Year Award; Stanley Black, Founder and Chairman of Black Equities Group, with the Lifetime Achievement Award; and Stanley Black’s grandson, Zach Zalben, with the Next Generation Award.

Dina and Fred Leeds, Gala Chairs-photo by FMDA PR West End Strategy Team
 Humanitarian of the Year Award honoree David Suissa-photo by FMDA PR West End Strategy Team
 Achievement Award winner Stanley Black-photo by FMDA PR West End Strategy Team
 Next Generation Award winner Zach Zalben-photo by FMDA PR West End Strategy Team

Such event always carries emotional moments that represent the importance of MDA’s work. This year was the story of Netanel Litman, MDA youth volunteer, and his father, Rabbi Yaakov Litman, who, in 2015, were both murdered during a terror attack while on their way to Netanel’s sister’s wedding. Netanel’s younger brother, Dvir Litman, now 16 year old, who was present and acted bravely in the aftermath of the attack was invited to partake in the gala and was presented an honorary MDA uniform by Eli Bin, Magen David Adom Director-General, and the group of the MDA paramedic visitors.

As small as Israel is, its military and MDA always go beyond the call. Seeing itself as a global leader in emergency medical response, MDA not only responds to local calls, it goes international. MDA answered the call to help disasters, as of recent in Nepal, Haiti, Indonesia, Japan, and Turkey. And as the Jewish saying goes, to be light unto the nations and make the world a better place, MDA shares its innovations, experiences, and knowledge with EMS agencies and communities around the world.

We regularly see ambulances roam the streets of the United States. We hardly pay attention to a driving by ambulance with its siren and flashing lights on. Because in all probability they take care of a pregnant woman ready to deliver, an elderly person in need, or in the worst case scenario some sort of an accident, sometimes murder. But in Israel the situation is different. There MDA’s job is much more intense, the least to say.

As one visiting paramedic told me, “I would like to see our ambulances driving around, all the time, for one and only one reason, to bring an expecting to deliver a baby woman to the hospital so she can deliver one other healthy baby.”

We say amen to that.

And in the meantime, what a better cause to contribute to one could have if not the one that is saving life?

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