Dr. Miriam Adelson. Photo by Alex Traiman
(July 2, 2024 / JNS)

Israeli-American philanthropist Dr. Miriam Adelson has made a multimillion-dollar donation in the form of emergency vehicles to an internationally renowned Israeli volunteer emergency-rescue service organization known for its quick arrival at the scene.

The $3 million wartime donation to the Jerusalem-based United Hatzalah organization includes 76 emergency motorcycles or ambucycles to match the years of the modern-day State of Israel; an ambulance; and two emergency vehicles that will be dispersed across the country as the nine-month war with Hamas in the Gaza Strip continues following the terrorist attacks in southern Israel on Oct. 7.

The trained volunteers at the United Hatzalah, which was established nearly two decades ago, are famed for arriving on the scene of an emergency by motorcycle within three minutes—significantly lower than the time it takes for an ambulance to arrive.

“The 10-minute wait for an ambulance—it’s life or death, or retardation,” Adelson said at a ceremony held on Tuesday evening at Mount Herzl in Jerusalem, which was lined with the new emergency vehicles. The august site, which is usually exclusively reserved for solemn state events, is the final resting place of the Zionist visionary Theodor Herzl, Israel’s fallen soldiers and Israeli leaders.

“When you arrive at Mount Herzl for a ceremony dedicated to celebrating saving lives, it is a corrective experience,” said Israeli Minister of Health Uriel Buso, who has served as a volunteer with the organization for the last quarter-century.

“The human resource of volunteers is Israel’s No. 1 asset,” Eli Beer, president and founder of United Hatzalah, told JNS. “This donation will reduce the response time for emergency services in Israel and save more lives.”

He said his goal was to reduce the arrival time of emergency officials down to 90 seconds.

“There is no competition in saving lives,” said Eli Pollack, CEO of United Hatzalah. “We need to arrive on the scene as quickly as possible.”

Mount Herzl Adelson Ambucycle Donation Ceremony
Cutting the ribbon at the ambucycle donation ceremony on July 2, 2024. Credit: Courtesy of United Hatzalah.
Mount Herzl Adelson Ambucycle Donation Ceremony
The crowd at the ambucycle donation ceremony on July 2, 2024. Credit: Courtesy of United Hatzalah.

Lost 18 volunteers since Black Shabbat

The organization was particularly efficient and made international headlines during the massacre on Oct. 7, perpetrated by Hamas operatives and other Palestinians who infiltrated Israel’s border.

Members of its team of 7,000-plus local volunteers were able to treat the wounded in Israeli communities along the border with Gaza at the height of the surprise attack, which left 1,200 people, mostly civilians, dead; thousands wounded; and as many as 250 men, women and children abducted to Gaza.

Since that Black Shabbat, the organization has lost 18 volunteers. Two of the ambulances and rescue vehicles were donated in their memory.

Adelson, 78, manages the estate of her late husband, Sheldon Adelson, who died in 2021. She said their family, which in the past preferred to give anonymously, went public with their donation to encourage others to do so as well. Her son Matan Adelson, owner of the Hapoel Jerusalem basketball team, also attended the ceremony.

A physician who specializes in drug addiction, she was presented with an emergency rescue official’s vest at the culmination of the ceremony.

Mount Herzl Adelson Ambucycle Donation Ceremony
Dr, Miriam Adelson addresses the crowd gathered for the ambucycle donation ceremony on July 2, 2024. Credit: Courtesy of United Hatzalah.
Mount Herzl Adelson Ambucycle Donation Ceremony
Israeli Health Minister Uriel Busso addresses the crowd gathered for the ambucycle donation ceremony on July 2, 2024. Credit: Courtesy of United Hatzalah.
Mount Herzl Adelson Ambucycle Donation Ceremony
Yaakov Hagoel, chairman of the World Zionist Organization, addresses the crowd gathered for the ambucycle donation ceremony on July 2, 2024. Credit: Courtesy of United Hatzalah.
Mount Herzl Adelson Ambucycle Donation Ceremony
Eli Beer, president and founder of United Hatzalah, addresses the crowd gathered for the ambucycle donation ceremony on July 2, 2024. Credit: Courtesy of United Hatzalah.
Mount Herzl Adelson Ambucycle Donation Ceremony
From left: Eli Beer, president and founder of United Hatzalah; Dr. Miriam Adelson; and Israeli Health Minister Uriel Busso at the ambucycle donation ceremony on July 2, 2024. Credit: Courtesy of United Hatzalah.
Mount Herzl Adelson Ambucycle Donation Ceremony
From left: At the ceremony are Yaakov Hagoel, chairman of the World Zionist Organization; Eli Beer, president and founder of United Hatzalah; Dr. Miriam Adelson; Israeli Health Minister Uriel Busso; and Matan Adelson, July 2, 2024. Credit: Courtesy of United Hatzalah.

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