Community Leaders Unite to Give of Themselves to Israel

July 9, 2014

4 min read

It is always inspiring to see people come from abroad with a desire to help out and to ‘give’ something of themselves to Israel. While giving can come in many forms, the idea that our friends from the diaspora wish to help Israel in its current situation is in of itself enough to inspire.

When community leaders and role models, such as a group of 100 Jewish rabbis and other leaders come to Israel on an educational retreat and take of their own free time to donate blood, that is even more inspiring.

On Sunday, the RTS program at the Shalom Harman Institute worked in conjunction with the Heart to Heart organization to allow their participants to leave a part of themselves behind in the Holy Land in the form of a blood donation.

Participant Esther Reed from Highland Park donating Blood. (Photo: Breaking Israel News)
Participant Esther Reed from Highland Park donating Blood. (Photo: Breaking Israel News)

This donation event, like many others that Heart To Heart has organized in the past, was created to make donating blood more accessible to those who were in Israel for only a short time. Among its other activities Heart To Heart excels at making blood donations accessible to groups that are touring or visiting Israel. Heart To Heart also gives those who are abroad the ability to make a virtual blood donation to help support Israel’s national blood bank.

“Every donation is incredibly important” says Director of Heart to Heart Jonathan Feldstein. “On a good day, Israel needs close to 1,200 pints of blood, and that is a very large number to fill. Every donation counts whether it is virtual or actual.”

Dalia Samansky, a Rabbi from Los Angeles California who is in charge of Adult Education and works at Florence Melton Adult School of Learning, was one of the participants of the program who donated blood.

“We came for two weeks of intensive learning together with our peers in which we refresh our souls and spirits before returning to our communities for the high holiday season,” she explained.

“It is incredibly moving that we are able to give of ourselves and infuse Israel with new blood donations, while we infuse our souls with Torah.”

Dalia was very appreciative of being declared fit to donate after numerous others had various issues that prevented them from donating. “We are a group of people who naturally give of ourselves in our sermons and teaching. Now we have a tangible way to do that as well,” she said.


Another donor was Esther Reed from Highland Park, NJ. Reed works at the Hill House on the Rutgers College campus. She said that she gives blood as much as she can in the US but that it is a special moment for her to be able to give blood here in Israel.

“I’m glad they organized it. I’m kind of a tourist here right now and I’m not sure that I would have been able to donate otherwise. We organize blood drives on campus all the time, and my role is to empower the students. I usually give during those drives, but I am happy to serve as a role model for them and give in Israel as well,” she said.

Reed hopes to work with Heart to Heart in the future and is now in talks with Feldstein to future groups of students who visit Israel to come and donate during their visits. The two also hope to organize a virtual blood drive on campus with Jewish and Christian students together in support of Israel.

Rabbi Dalia Samansky from Los Angeles donating blood. (Photo: Breaking Israel News)
Rabbi Dalia Samansky from Los Angeles donating blood. (Photo: Breaking Israel News)

A third member of RTS, a cantorial student named Michelle Stone, said that the amazing part of the blood drive was that it was made so accessible to the participants.

“When the email went out that they had set this up and we could do it, I just thought that it was so obvious and easy. Of course I would donate. I had never had the opportunity to donate blood in Israel on my previous trips,” she said. “Every time I go back to the US I feel a certain sadness about leaving Israel, but this is a great way to leave a part of myself here, and that gives me a great feeling.”

Samansky summed up the general feeling of the group of happy blood donors: “Israel gives us so much. Especially in these last two weeks, we have felt a deeper connection with the country and what we have learned here. Israel infuses our soul with spirituality, we can infuse it with our blood. It’s an issue of the biblical commandment of Pikuach Nefesh (Saving a Life). All of the children of Israel are responsible for one another. This is one of the most direct and powerful ways to help out our fellow brothers and sisters, and we are happy that we are able to do it.”

To learn how you can support the lifesaving efforts of Heart to Heart, click here.

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