As the current wave of violence and terrorism intensifies across the country, Israel’s first responders are on the front lines protecting and saving those caught in the crossfire. One organization, Heart to Heart, aims to help save lives each day in Israel and support those who risk their lives to protect those living in Israel.
Heart to Heart plays a powerful behind the scenes role in supporting Magen David Adom, Israel’s paramedic, ambulance and blood banking organization. From helping victims of terror on the streets of Jerusalem to responding to rocket attacks in southern Israel, Heart to Heart’s mission knows no bounds in its fulfillment of blessing Israel, saving lives in Israel and fulfilling the Biblical mandate of Genesis 12:3: “I will bless those who bless you…”
In an exclusive interview, Breaking Israel News sat down with Heart to Heart Director Jonathan Feldstein to gain insight into what it means in running a lifesaving organization in Israel.
BIN: What is the day to day of running Heart to Heart like?
JF: I wish I had another 24 hours in each day to do what I needed and explore all the exciting opportunities that are presented to me and with which I am entrusted. As I am an army of one, with lots of supporters and volunteers, but no other paid staff, just keeping track of all the administrative things, making travel plans, hosting visitors in Israel and so many other things is a full time job. Being based in Israel, I often work until late at night when it’s still day in the US, or start very early when it’s evening in the west coast. There is never a moment to spare so I try to make every minute count the most.
BIN: Can you tell us a story of a chance meeting which lead to a more monumental experience in helping Heart to Heart?
JF: There are so many of these, clearly God is opening doors which I find humbling. I was at the NRB convention one year and as an orthodox Jew I stood out just a bit. I was going up an escalator and someone behind me said “You must be Jewish too.” We chatted and exchanged cards at the top of the escalator and he’s become a dear friend. He of course is the CEO of one of the biggest ministries in the US and has been an invaluable partner and supporter.
Another time, during a parade of support by thousands of Christians visiting Jerusalem, I was walking alongside them and thanking them for coming to bless us. An older woman was walking alone and seemed to have trouble walking. She reminded me of my mother so I walked with her the rest of the way so she would not be alone or get lost as she was already separated from her group. At the parade’s conclusion, she introduced me to the people who she was with, one of whom is the head of a major TV ministry and with whom I have become good friends and who I just marched with through another parade. But this relationship was the reason why Heart to Heart was selected as the beneficiary of a telethon last month that was aired on 15 TV ministries across the US.
BIN: Can you describe some of the support Heart to Heart has received from famous individuals?
JF: I have been blessed to meet “famous” people such as Ricky Skaggs, Michael W Smith, Roma Downey, Mark Burnett, Franklin Graham and Anne Graham Lotz, and hundreds of pastors and heads of major ministries and denominations, TV and radio personalities, and more. Our web site has dozens of endorsements from some of the people and others like them, as well as “average” people who love and support Israel. While it’s always a privilege to meet famous people, I just love the bonds of friendship and fellowship that I have created with these and many others whom I have met through my work.
BIN: How closely do you think Christian Zionists and Jews work together in support Israel?
JF: Many work very closely together and it’s been a calling of my life since the 1980s to be part of this.
BIN: What are some of the hurdles Christian Zionists and Jews must overcome in partnering together to support Israel?
JF: There is so much that unites us and so many good reasons to work together. But there is a lack of understanding in many places and that needs to be bridged through mutual understanding and respect.
BIN: How often does Heart to Heart hold a special blood drive for tourists in Israel? What is involved in organizing these blood drives?
JF: We used to bring more than 2,000 people a year to donate blood in Israel. That was an amazing start. But coordinating this and doing it right, to make sure we are only bringing qualified donors, does take time. Sometimes a lot. With limited resources of the blood bank, we have to be sure that there’s a group that’s big enough, usually at least 25 actual eligible donors, to be able to make the resources needed to do a blood drive cost effective. That can typically require 30 to as many as even 40 or 50 people, depending on the demographics which vary from group to group. There’s a natural momentum now that a few dozen groups per year express the interest to do so, and it could be much more, but we don’t actively promote it. It’s just the natural and logical outgrowth of what we do.
BIN: Your organization is unique in that while many people are unable to physically donate blood in support of Israel, you offer a “virtual blood donation” that will go towards supporting Israel’s blood banks. What happens when someone makes a virtual blood donation?
JF: A virtual blood donation is a financial sponsorship of a unit of blood that gives the national blood bank in Israel extra resources to be sure Israels blood supply is abundant, safe and uninterrupted, no matter what the challenges. This has taken off super well because whether a person is eligible or not personally, there are millions of others who can bless Israel and save lives in Israel by sponsoring just one unit of blood for $100. Every ministry that’s partnering with us has its own model. One pastor asked everyone in his church to donate just $1 a week. That’s really added up. Some churches sponsor 2-3 units of blood every single month. Many others take a special offering 1-2 times a year. I cant wait to get thousands of partners doing this. That will make a huge difference.
To learn how you can give a virtual blood donation through Heart to Heart, click here.