Neither extreme temperatures nor the darkness and dead of night can deter them from embarking upon their lifesaving mission. Stalwart and selfless, they are first to respond in times of crisis, in the initial moments when time is of the essence. They are the members of Hatzalah—the unsung heroes who are a treasured and integral part of the fabric of Klal Yisrael.
Comprised of over 2,000 dedicated volunteers, the Hatzalah organization has branches in almost every Jewish community in New York City, North Jersey, and the Catskills. Responding with alacrity to every call, Hatzalah’s city of angels is there for us in our time of need, 24/7, 365 days a year.
But who are their heroes in their time of need? They are our husbands, sons, fathers, and brothers. They are our friends and neighbors; our doctors, teachers, lawyers, accountants, teachers, plumbers, and electricians. They share our lifestyle and values. They daven with us in shul; our children are classmates and friends; we patronize the same stores and restaurants. They save our lives and face challenges in their own lives.
Chesky’s wife is undergoing treatments for cancer and the effects have left her debilitated and unable to teach. The family is in desperate need of financial and household assistance. The eldest of their five children is only eleven years old and is inundated with responsibilities. Apprised of the family’s situation, Chevra G’mach provided the family both financial and emotional support, covering the cost of household help, transportation and food expenses, and removing the burden of responsibility from the children, thereby creating a more tranquil home environment.
Six months after losing his job, Zev finds that he and his family are in danger of losing their home as well. After initially seeking help from family members to defray food, mortgage, tuition, and living expenses, Zev realized this was only a band-aid to a critical situation and that he needed to find a long-term solution. He reached out to the Chevra G’mach, who helped him craft a résumé and ultimately secure a lucrative job that matched his interests and qualifications.
Moti is working at two jobs to support his growing family and would like to enroll in college and earn a degree in a lucrative field, earn a higher salary, and spend more time with his family. Much as Moti would like to begin taking courses, he realizes that the cost of college tuition would tax their family budget. Seeking to provide for his family and secure their financial future, Moti reached out to the Chevra G’mach who covered the cost of his college courses.
Chezky, Zev, and Moti are all Hatzalah Heroes who devote every spare moment (and often time they can’t spare) for the klal. Seeking neither accolades nor honor, they are on the scene mere seconds after receiving a call.
But sometimes these extraordinary heroes are themselves in need of assistance. Who will help them navigate life’s challenges? Recognizing this void, a group of ba’alei baatim, all members of Hatzalah, created the Chevra G’mach. Launched in2008, the initiative was created for the members by the members to assist those who dedicate their lives to helping others in a dignified and discreet manner.
Below are testimonials from some of the many Hatzalah Heroes who have been assisted by Chevra G’mach:
“To the members of the Board of the Hatzalah G’mach,
I just received a phone call to notify me that the April check of repayment of my loan is being torn and forgiven. I don’t have the words to describe the feelings and emotion going through my mind and heart. The feeling of sheves achim/yedidim of the Hatzalah family! Your help with the check for yom tov, and now this. It is a chesed that is above and beyond what I could ever have imagined and is a tremendous help to ease the financial burden that comes along with making Pesach for me and my family.
Hashem should bentch each and every one of you with gezunt, nachas, an abundance of parnasah, kol tuv ad meah v’esrim shanah.”
“To the Chevrah G’mach,
We would like to express a heartfelt thank you for giving us a nice boost this year. My family and I greatly appreciate it. I work many hours each week and am working on a degree. The additional help came at the right time and was put to good use. Thank you! Looking forward to becoming a Chevrah contributor one day…Hashem should bentch you and yours with good health and long life.”
“Thank you, Naftali, for your phone call with regard to forgiving last month’s loan repayment check. This wouldn’t be the first time Chevrah G’mach has done so and I am forever grateful for the multifold levels of chesed this organization has done for me so far and to many others, I’m sure: for getting a loan (easily), for forgiving some months of repayment during the hardest times of the pandemic, etc.
May Hakodosh Baruch Hu bentch each and every one of you who is involved with this tremendous chesed organization, including its gracious donors, with parnassah in abundance, good health, happiness, wealth, success, shalom bayis, and nachas from all your children. Amen.”
I would love to express my sincere appreciation for your warm gesture.
I envy the schar you get by enabling me as a ba’al simcha, and so many others, to delight in the sheer joy of marrying off a child.
Thank you for the financial boost and most of all, for the thoughtful, selfless gift in its kind manner.
May Hashem bless you with all you may need till 120 gezunterheit! Thank you so much from the depth of my heart!”
“Thank you so much. My wife and I can’t express enough hakaras hatov we have to you, Naftali and the entire Chevra G’mach. Hashem should bentch you with all the koach and means to continue doing this holy chesed in such a way! Have an amazing yom tov.”
Chevra G’mach is currently running the “Help Our Heroes” campaign to help our heroic Hatzalah responders in their times of need, in New York City, the Catskills, and Bergen County. Your generous donation will ensure that our communities’ most selfless members will not be forced to face crises alone.
To donate and to obtain information regarding sponsorship opportunities, please refer to the Chevra G’mach ad in this issue of the 5TJT. Tizku l’mitzvos. n
Rochelle Maruch Miller is a contributing editor for the Five Towns Jewish Times. She is a journalist, creative media consultant, lecturer, and educator, and writes for magazines, newspapers, websites, and private clients. She welcomes your comments at Rochellemiller04@aol.com. Read more of Rochelle Miller’s articles at 5TJT.com.