The International Magen David Adom Conference (IMDAC 2015) took place this week in Israel. With representatives from 12 countries present, the atmosphere was one of brothers-in-arms seeking to aid Israel in its emergency medical care.
Attendees participated in festivities that included tours throughout Israel and the presentations of 10 fully equipped ambulances and 10 meda-cycles (fully equipped motorcycles) purchased with donations received from all over the world. A medical station in Bnei Brak, which was built with donations from England, was also dedicated during the conference.
Attending the event was Jonathan Feldstein, Director of Heart to Heart Israel, an organization which supports Israel’s national ambulance, emergency and blood services. “It’s always meaningful to hear about how our support helps save lives in Israel, but this week all the more so as our meetings were disrupted repeatedly by calls received about terrorist attacks taking place and Israel’s life saving first responders in action,” he told Breaking Israel News.
“Jonathan Feldstein, as Director of Heart to Heart Israel, has done a wonderful job at coordinating a wide range of Christian groups to join forces and help save lives in Israel,” shared Mark Lebow, Chairman of American Friends of Magen David Adom (AFMDA), to Breaking Israel News. “In December, we are looking forward to a dedication ceremony of two ambulances donated through Franklin Graham, the eldest son of Billy Graham and President and CEO of Samaritan’s Purse.”
Lebow continued, “We owe a great deal of gratitude towards Christian evangelists who generously support our work. This year we expect that donations through Heart to Heart Israel and other Christian organizations will top $1 million dollars towards helping Israel.”
With the continuous bad press about Arab-Israeli relations, Magen David Adom (MDA) is proud to point out that some ambulance drivers are Israeli Arabs who have driven injured Jews, and some are Jewish drivers who have brought injured Israeli and Palestinian Arabs to the hospital. To MDA, all lives matter. “Our motto is, ‘We save lives while others take lives’,” noted Lebow.
“The goodwill generated today between Christians and Jews, especially with regards to their strong ties to Israel, is constantly growing. The cause of ‘saving lives’ is something that people from all religions in all age groups can understand,” Gershon Trimpol, AFMDA National Board Member and Heart to Heart Israel Committee Member, told Breaking Israel News.
Trimpol fondly reflected on a story from a few years ago. “It warms my heart when I think about a Christian Mennonite couple who got involved with Israeli causes. After traveling back and forth to Israel several times, they decided to donate an ambulance,” he recalled. “It became clear how unpretentious this couple and their community were when we attended the dedication ceremony in the outskirts of Lancaster, Pennsylvania. They had no interest in having their own name on the ambulance. Rather, they asked that just the name of their ministry appear. Donations from this community continue until today to demonstrate their love and support for Israel.”
Dan Dobin, Vice-Chairman of AFMDA, expressed to Breaking Israel News, “I am always moved by the reactions of the Israeli EMS, ambulance drivers and first responders when we tell them about Heart to Heart Israel. They cannot believe that so many non-Jews in America care about them putting their lives on the line every day.”
Clearly emotional when discussing her work, Donna Calcaterra, Chair of the Heart to Heart Israel Committee, shared with Breaking Israel news, “I was amazed to find out that so many people were searching for what they could do to help Israel. We created a brochure for Heart to Heart Israel explaining the tremendous need to support Israel’s national ambulance, EMS and blood service. The cover of the brochure states, ‘He who blesses Israel will be blessed.’ People, especially Christians, literally grab these brochures out of my hands. They understand that this statement is Biblical.”
As Heart to Heart Israel develops their programs throughout America, they have found that support for virtual blood donations are something that everyone can relate to. “Even children understand that blood is life giving,” noted Feldstein. “Through donating to Heart to Heart Israel, people gain the satisfaction of knowing that their help is immediately life-saving.”
Calcaterra added, “My ancestors came from Spain. They were thrown out for being Jewish during the Spanish Inquisition. My great-grandmother was murdered during the Holocaust and others are survivors. Heart to Heart Israel is an amazing platform for Christians and Jews to unite and heal history.”