Addressing Suicide in the

Torah-Observant Community


An interview with Dr Michael Bunzel, Chairman of the Department of Psychiatry at Mayanei Hayeshua Medical Center. Dr Bunzel is also Medical Director of the hospital’s newly-opened Mental Health Center, a seven-floor, ultra-modern building that has all the amenities and comforts for reducing the negative aspects of seeking mental health treatment. Mayanei Hayeshua proudly upholds the principles of Jewish law and the sanctity of human life, and all medical ethics issues are overseen by a Halachic Committee of Gedolei Yisroel.

What is so special about the Mayanei Hayeshua Mental Health Center?

Our Mental Health Center will become the largest psychiatric center of its kind in the Middle East. We believe that Halacha and Torah Hashkafa can actually assist in psychiatric issues. Social and communal interventions that are typical of orthodox communities, such as social support, family support, rehabilitation programme, are already an integral part of the religious lifestyle. Our almost exclusively Torah observant staff have an exceptional level of expertise in their professional disciplines.

How important is it for mental health practitioners to appreciate the culture of the patients they treat?

Cultural differences should be respected and understood if you want a way into someone’s soul. There is a universal trend toward more culturally sensitive medicine. For psychiatric services to succeed, they should be delivered by practitioners who are aware of the idiosyncrasies of the patient’s subculture. It can be very hard to diagnose someone unless you clearly understand his cultural framework and understand what normalcy is in that culture. For example, a secular doctor might misinterpret ritual behaviour, religious observance and even reliance on a higher power as being abnormal psychiatric symptoms. This can leave to misdiagnosis and mistreatment.

Why has there traditionally been resistance in Orthodox circles to mental health issues?

There is a history of Orthodox suspicion of professional care of mental health problems. Halachic authorities such as Rav Moshe Feinstein used to be wary of psychological treatment because it was largely based on philosophies seen as antithetical to a Torah outlook. The split between the world of psychiatry and the world of the religious led to mutual distrust. Happily, the last 30 years have seen the emergence of new psychological treatments that are no longer regarded as threatening. Psychologists and psychiatrists now have greater awareness that religion is not only not a barrier to psychological rehabilitation, but can often facilitate this. The decline in resistance to mental health treatment among the religiously observant community has been helped by an increase in the number of religiously observant mental health practitioners, and by the bi-directional consultation that often takes place between rabbis and mental health professionals. I would go far as to say that we have a witnessed a revolution. Instead of rabbis and their communities resisting the treatment of mental health, they are now partners in the treatment.

Has the stigma of mental health led to mental illness in the Torah-observant community going untreated?

Our data shows that 65 percent of the adults and 70 percent of the children who come in for mental health help would not have sought treatment elsewhere because other clinics are less sensitive to their unique Torah outlook. If mental health issues are stigmatized, the people who are suffering live in a world of secrecy and their problems only are exacerbated. The greater the stigma, the fewer the number of people who get treated. There were times when anyone in Bnei Brak with a mental health issue would have to travel far away for treatment, so as not to be seen. Opening Mayanei Hayeshua’s mental health clinic right in the middle of Bnei Brak went straight in the face of the stigma. There who predicted that no one would show up were proved completely wrong. Our clinic was soon bursting at the seams. Mayanei Hayeshua has the support of the top rabbinical leaders, and this certainly helps reduce the stigma. Rabbis now work openly and constructively with our psychiatrists. The orthodox public is beginning to recognise that shidduchim are not doomed if a great-grandson is on an antidepressant. There is greater awareness that it is possible to use psychotherapy in a way that is guided by Torah values.

What types of mental illnesses do you come across in the Torah-observant community?

The Torah lifestyle protects against many ailments that are more common in nonreligious societies, such as personality disorders. But while research has proven that a religiously rich life can provide protection against some psychiatric problems such as depression and anxiety, unfortunately Torah observant Jews are not immune to psychiatric illnesses. Every psychiatric illness that you find in Western society can be found in the Orthodox community as well.

Is the Torah-observant community immune to suicide?

I wish I could say yes, but unfortunately I cannot. In the wider population in the U.S.A., Israel and elsewhere, suicide has become a major issue. Suicide is the major cause of death amongst 15-24 year olds in several countries, the fourth leading of cause of death among children ages 10-14, the tenth leading cause of death amongst all individuals worldwide. Statistics tell us that for every person who dies by suicide, there are 20-30 suicide attempts. Despite the focus on emunah in particular and religion in general as protective factors against suicide, the Torah-observant community is not immune to this tragic phenomenon. One religious media source claims that there have been 77 suicides in the worldwide Torah observant community since last Rosh Hashana. I cannot vouch for the truth of this figure, but even one suicide a year is one too many. Suicide is a tragedy that we must try to prevent.

Are there any myths about suicide in the Torah observant community?

Yes, and these myths need to be addressed and corrected. For example, it is not true that “People who talk about suicide usually don’t commit suicide.” People who talk about suicide are a high risk group, and their veiled threats should not be ignored. It is also not true that “Suicide usually takes place with little or no warning.” About 80% of suicide attempts are preceded by warnings, whether vague statements or clear threats. It is not true that “People who attempt suicide are fully intent on dying.” Only 3.5% of people who attempt suicide really want to die, while the other 96.5% are sending clear warning signals to those around them, warning signals that we must not ignore. It is also not true that “People who attempt suicide remain suicidal forever.” Effective intervention can lead to erasing suicidal thoughts forever.

Is it true that only depressed people commit suicide?

No, this too is a myth. While mental illness is undoubtedly a high risk factor, there are other risk factors such as poor physical health, a family history of suicide, serious medical illness, substance abuse, unemployment, and general loneliness. It is also not true that people who threaten suicide are only making empty threats, and should be ignored. In reality, 75% of people who successfully commit suicide have made suicide attempts in the past.

Since asking someone about their suicidal thoughts could increase the risk of suicide, is it not better just not talk to about it?

We used to think that asking about suicidal thoughts increased the risk of people considering suicide. We now know that the opposite is true, and that silencing the talk only increases rates of suicide. A recent paper in Lancet Psychiatry summarizing 225 research papers on preventing suicide, has shown that intervening early when the possibility of suicidal thoughts exists has been proved to reduce the risk of suicide. Effective interventions include restricting access to lethal means such as weapons and drugs in the home, and preventing access to tall buildings and bridges. Other interventions include pharmacological interventions in all ages, psychiatric diagnosis and treatment of psychiatric illness and depression, psychotherapies such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Dialectical Behavior Therapy. School-based mental health and suicide awareness programs are helpful, and “Gatekeeper" training can help school staff, general practitioners and crisis hotlines to listen and refer more effectively. Electroconvulsive therapy also provides rapid relief from suicidal thoughts. Mayanei Hayeshua has just received a generous donation from an observant US foundation to buy advanced equipment for reducing the possibility of harmful side effects.

What can one say to someone contemplating ending their life?

Many people contemplating suicide think that because of their mental or physical illness, or other trouble they are experiencing, they are a burden on their family, their close friends, their community or their society. They get the idea into their head that their suicide might be beneficial to those around them by relieving them of the burden. That’s why it is so important for people contemplating suicide to understand and to hear that such an act inflicts much worse suffering on their loved ones. It is extremely difficult for family and friends to cope when they have lost a loved one to suicide.

How can families cope after a suicide?

The most effective way we have of helping families who have lost someone to suicide is group and family therapy. Evidence has shown that if suicide is not worked through in therapy, there is a danger of additional family members contemplating suicide because of the accumulated stress and misery of keeping the family secret as taboo.

How would you summarize your message concerning suicide in the religious community?

Like with all mental health issues, shame, stigma and silence only make matters worse. Suicidal thoughts are a part of mental illness, and therefore can often be treated and prevented if we are vigilant enough to recognize the symptoms. Halachic authorities now acknowledge the importance of psychiatric intervention, and have ruled that mental illness is often a question of pikuach nefesh, just like other medical emergencies. In the general society, suicide awareness and prevention initiatives are proving effective. There is no reason why the Torah observant community cannot do the same. The more open we are in addressing suicide in our community, the more we can help families who are affected by it.


Hollywood Luminaries Roll-Out the Red Carpet
for SHALVA’S “Spirit of Hope” Dinner
honoring Michael and Angelique De Luca

(JERUSALEM, ISRAEL)- A star-studded lineup of Hollywood movie and TV power-brokers including Amy Pascal, Brett Ratner Adam Berkowitz, Howard Rosenman and Dawn Hudson honored movie producer Michael De Luca and his wife Angelique, at the inaugural SHALVA “Spirit of Hope” fund-raising soiree in Los Angeles earlier this week, which was held at the home of noted businessman and philanthropist Stanley Black .Michael is a three-time Academy Award- nominated movie producer for “The Social Network” “Moneyball” & “Captain Phillips.”

Jeremy Garelick, the fast-rising movie & TV producer, who has worked with the likes of Jennifer Aniston, Cate Blanchett and Anthony Hopkins, emceed the event, which  also drew many renowned members from Los Angeles’ Jewish community, as well as local politicians.

The De Lucas' have worked diligently to spread the gospel within Hollywood about SHALVA’s outreach services to special needs children in Jerusalem and Israel. SHALVA recently opened a state-of-the-art facility in Jerusalem, in order to service the growing needs of the community. The goal of the dinner was to create additional awareness, as well as raise critical funds to support the new center.

 “We feel privileged to be the Honorees at SHALVA’s ‘Spirit of Hope Dinner.’ SHALVA is an incredible organization that we have supported and been a part of for a number of years. It’s important that children with disabilities and their families get help and support tailored to their individual journey, so that they are able to reach their full potential. We look forward to the incredible success the program will continue to achieve,” said the De Lucas.

Kalman Samuels, SHALVA’s Founder & Chairman, lionized the De Lucas and Black for their efforts on behalf of the organization. “That which bonds our host Stanley Black and our honorees, Michael and Angelique, is the timeless value of wanting to help people in need. Via this inaugural dinner in Los Angeles, they together with many dear friends are creating miracles for those who are unable to dream it for themselves. As a West Coast child of the 60’s, I am humbled to have established SHALVA in Jerusalem and to partner with such extraordinary, caring human beings to inspire hope and change lives,” said Mr. Samuels.

Photo Credit: Linda Kasian

(L-R):Amy Pascal, Udi Savion, Stanley Black (his house), Adam Berkowitz, Kalman Samuels, Mike De Luca, Angelique De Lucas





Omri Casspi Gives Back To Israel  


Omri Casspi

By Rachel Gross

NBA Sacramento Kings forward, Omri Casspi is calling on supporters to “show their true colors” and help support Israeli charities.

The Israeli basketball champion is giving back to his homeland by leading a drive to raise $200,000 for four Israeli charities. The week long fundraising campaign will benefit a diverse range of organizations, each making a unique impact on Israeli society.

Casspi is proud to be an Israeli and sees this fundraising campaign as part of a wider mission to show the best of Israel to the world.  The organizations selected are an example of the vibrant philanthropic spirit in Israel. Shalva, the Association for disabled children and their families in Israel, is one of the selected organizations. Omri is enthusiastic about their partnership. “I’m super excited to be part of Shalva and help raise money for kids with disabilities,” he said.

Shalva provides rehabilitative, educational and respite programs for children across the spectrum of disabilities. It also offers practical and emotional support for parents and families of these children. Opening this year is the Shalva National Center which is poised to become a center for excellence in the treatment of disabled children. The 6- floor building with offer everything from sleeping facilities to a café run by students open to the general public.

This is not the first time that Casspi has used his influence to showcase Israel on the international stage. Last year his foundation brought a group of his team mates from the Sacramento Kings to Israel to tour the country and meet the locals in a series of basketball clinics. This latest endeavor is taking his personal efforts one step further by reaching out to his fans to join him in supporting Israel. He appealed for support, “Now more than ever, we can show our true colors as a country and people by helping others.”

To donate to the Omri Casspi Foundation donation drive go to



OHEL Gears Up for OXC - Another Xtreme Event – on Sunday, May 15th

Nearly 250 participants from the Five Boroughs, the Five Towns, and New Jersey are preparing to run, climb, jump, crawl, and muscle their way through the Second Annual OXC – OHEL Xtreme Challenge – 5-mile or 1.5-mile obstacle course at Camp Kaylie. The course has been custom-built by professionals to allow all participants to push their bodies and test their limits, with options for everyone from children to the most hardened athletes.

Modeled after the now famous “Tough Mudder” and “Spartan” runs, OXC includes options for children and adults with disabilities. Several of OHEL Bais Ezra’s residents with disabilities who have overcome their own life challenges will be joining for this challenging and fun-filled day.
OXC features over 32 obstacles, including tunnels, climbing walls, balance beams, rope ladders, water hurdles, mud dumpsters, and much more.  As teams or individuals, every one of the participants will make it to the finish line, receive a medal and other giveaways, and be proud of their accomplishments of overcoming obstacles together. Participants and their families will get to enjoy a full day at Camp Kaylie that includes breakfast, registration, a 5-mile (or 1.5-mile) obstacle course, BBQ lunch, and a participant parade.

Family members of OHEL individuals, Camp Kaylie campers, and students from several colleges and high schools from the Five Towns and New Jersey, including HAFTR, DRS, TABC, North Shore, and Frisch, have already signed up, and are preparing for the event on May 15th.  “I’m training at Move U Fitness in Brooklyn with Mark Izhak several times a week” says OXC participant, Goldy Weiss. “It’s challenging but fun, especially as I join with 20 other Flatbush women.  We challenge each other every week to do more and know that with our women power – we’re invincible!  Our group of women has become a family; we strengthen each other.  We are passionate about our training and proud to be fundraising for OHEL’s children and adults. Training to overcome obstacles similar to what OHEL individuals face every day has changed my life."

Ben Englander, OHEL Board member and OXC Chairman, commented: “This is a groundbreaking event and I am proud to be involved with this for its second year.  I personally participated with my family last year and it was beyond awesome! Our team, “The Bunklemen”, is proud to be a part of the event again.   The obstacles are amazing and challenging.  It will be a great day for kids and adults of all abilities. Come out and join us in support of OHEL’s children and adults.”
OHEL notes that the customized tiered system of obstacles, appealing to both seasoned pros and individuals with developmental disabilities, has become a trend in fitness-related events. “We have built this course with the hopes that we can set a new precedent in fundraising”, said Robert Katz, Chief Development Officer at OHEL.  “I hope that we can lead by example to show how any event can provide options for participants of all ability levels”.

OHEL thanks OXC Chairmen Ben Englander, Aryeh Jacobson, Etan Kestenbaum, and Jeffrey Schwartz for their tireless work on this event, as well as our sponsors: ABC Communications, ABF Mud Run, Atlantic PC, Inc., Barristers Title Agency, Billman Ross & Associates, ClifBar & Company, Dependable Abstract, Elite Care, Fresko, Poland Spring, Rosco Vision Systems, Stein Farkas & Schwartz LLP, and Toby Schwartz Graphic Design.  We also thank our many participants who helped raise money to make this event possible.

All funds raised at this event support OHEL’s children and adults with disabilities and families in crisis. There is still time to participate, sponsor a participant or team, or become an event sponsor. Please call 718-972-9338 or visit

Since 1969, OHEL Children’s Home and Family Services has served as a dependable haven of individual and family support, helping people of all ages effectively manage disability, surmount everyday challenges, heal from trauma, and manage with strength and dignity during times of crisis.




Meir Panim: Fighting Poverty during Passover... And All Year Long

An In-Depth Look at Lifesaving Programs

By Danielle Ross

The Passover holiday brings with it a sense of cultural pride and an opportunity to rejoice with family.

But for the thousands of modern-day Israelis who are held captive by the shackles of poverty and hunger, there's no real cause for celebration or joy.

Shocking statistics recently released in the Israel National Insurance Institute’s annual poverty report are painfully disheartening: a staggering 1.7 million Israelis, including almost 800,000 children, live below the poverty line. For too many families, parents and their children are living in constant hunger, fear and pain.

As Israel’s premier food and social services organization, Meir Panim actively fights the poverty and hunger crisis in Israel every day.

Meir Panim’s programs offer lifesaving aid to the poorest members of Israeli society. A wide network of relief centers across the country supply ongoing crucial services to families who have nowhere else to turn.

Meir Panim combats poverty not just during holidays but also year-round, through extensive food distribution networks and a bevy of social service programs for both adults and children.  A comprehensive coalition of relief centers strategically situated across the Jewish Homeland supply lifesaving nourishment and critical services to poor Israelis who live day-to-day, trying to remain afloat in a sea of despair.

Services provided include: Food Relief Centers serving 410,000 meals annually in restaurant-style soup kitchens; Meals on Wheels delivering 180,000 meals annually to the homebound, disabled, and elderly; Meals for Children distributing 100,000 hot, nourishing lunches annually to children; Food Shopping Cards issued annually to 5,300 families to buy food at grocery stores; and the Israel Nutrition Center, the only food production and distribution facility in the Middle East capable of serving 30,000 meals each day.

These services are regularly hailed as being comprehensive and inclusive. But when Passover arrives, Meir Panim's bustling operations kick into overdrive.

In addition to distributing hundreds of boxes filled with matzah, fish, chicken, vegetables and other Passover essentials, Meir Panim oversees multiple auxiliary programs - such as the popular Kulam Beseder initiative.

"We want to ensure that needy people, particularly the elderly without family, do not spend Passover alone," explains David Roth, President of Meir Panim. "So we match people with host families for Passover Seders. In 2015, more than 2,300 individuals were placed and that number is rising for this year."

But the Kulam Beseder initiative is just one component in the grand scheme of things.

Hundreds of people will participate in meaningful Seders, being held in Meir Panim’s Dimona and Haifa restaurants, and join one another in unity to celebrate their Jewish heritage.

For struggling families wishing to celebrate the holiday in their own homes, Meir Panim is distributing a number of pre-paid food shopping cards, enabling recipients to purchase Passover necessities to fill their refrigerators and pantries.

The Meir Panim Or Akiva after-school club will be keeping its doors open throughout the almost three-week-long Passover break, offering daily nutritious meals, continued educational and social enrichment, and special outings such as a boat ride on the Kinneret.

And the critical services offered by Meir Panim don’t stop once the Passover holiday comes to a close.

Tens of thousands of families - many who have been affected by the drastic cuts in Israel's social services funding and have watched helplessly as their already precarious financial situations plummeted in response - rely solely on Meir Panim for basic sustenance throughout the year.

"These needy people are essentially left to fend for themselves and are struggling to survive each day," says Roth. "We need the Jewish communities of America to unite and help these underprivileged Israelis experience true freedom - from poverty, from darkness, and from hunger."

To donate click here



Jay Leno raises 50 thousands dollars in one minute
for Israel EMS organization, donates ambucycle


At a special concert fundraiser for Israel’s largest volunteer EMS service held at the Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York on Sunday, United Hatzalah was honored by Jay Leno, who performed a long comedy set and offered on the spot to donate a $36,000 fully equipped ambucycle for the EMS organization to use to save lives in Israel.

The former Tonight Show host called Eli Beer, Founder and President of United Hatzalah, to the stage after his act to tell him “What you guys are doing is so special I am so proud to be here and be part of it. I have 117 motorcycles in my collection but none of my motorcycles save lives. I want to donate an ambucycle with all of the trappings.” The ambucycle, once it is outfitted and adorned with Jay Leno's name, will join the fleet ambucylces of over 400 used by the volunteer EMS organization to continue to provide free treatment to anyone who needs while cutting down emergency response time throughout the country to under 3 minutes.

Leno, who traveled from Los Angeles specially for the concert, also challenged the audience to join him in supporting lifesaving in Israel by donating on the spot to the organization and offering that anyone who donated $1,000 would receive a free tour of his garage to see his large car and motorcycle collection.  Leno’s rare car and motorcycle collection is considered to be one of the finest in the world. Thanks to Leno, an additional $50,000 was raised on the spot to support saving lives in Israel.

The concert took place at the Jazz at Lincoln Center in midtown Manhattan and featured performances by musical entertainer Lipa Schmeltzer and the Rock band 8th Day. The event also featured Neginah Orchestra was hosted by Jewish Radio personality Nachum Segal and produced by Suki and Ding. The event was made possible by the sponsorship of many amazing supporters among them, Jay and Jeanie Schottenstein together with Bob and Amy Book,Mark and Barbara Silber and the Carey and Tammy Wolchok family as well as many others. The venue, which can seat close to 1,300 people, was a complete sell-out.

Leno got a first hand look at the ambucycles of United Hatzalah as he made his grand entrance onto the stage riding one of the organization’s ambucycles and wearing a EMT vest identifying him as a supporter of the organization. After receiving a miniature silver ambulance from United Hatzalah to add to his collection, Leno told the crowd “See you next year in Jerusalem.” This statement both invoked a famous Jewish refrain and hinted at Leno continuing his yearly visits to host big events in Israel.     

In 2014 and 2015, Leno hosted the Genesis Prize award ceremony in Israel, following which he was attacked on social media for his support of the country. Leno brushed off the attacks and kept coming back to support the Jewish state in spite of the chastisement.

“People want a good time and people want to do good deeds,” said Founder and President of United Hatzalah Eli Beer. “So for those who cannot physically come to Israel, like Leno did, but still want to help, the concert was a golden opportunity to come out and support the country while performing one of the greatest gifts of loving kindness that there is, saving lives. What Jay Leno, Lipa, 8th Day and the audience did here tonight is an act of charity that keeps on giving for generations and generations to come.”




Seeing Is Believing-
Shalva Dinner Honors
Shai Gross, Entebbe Captive

Sometimes in life we are put in situations, where our power to overcome must be seen to be believed.  On March 13, guests at the Shalva 26th Anniversary Dinner were able to see for themselves how the human spirit can overcome unbelievable odds.


Shai Gross at the Shalva dinner receiving an awardThe youngest of the hostages in the 1976 Entebbe Operation, Shai Gross, stood before the guests at the Shalva dinner. His presence itself was a testament to the power of the human-beings to do the unbelievable. He explained, “When I was six, my parents and I were among the hostages. For a full week we sat, captives in Entebbe with pistols and grenades threatening our lives.

The terrorists separated the children into business-class to avoid parents acting up in defense of their children. My mother however, was able to hide me under her seat. I was only six, yet I remember asking her, “Does dying hurt?”


    The Entebbe Operation is forever marked in the collective Jewish consciousness. On June 27, 1976, four terrorist hijacked flight 139 on-route from Tel Aviv to Paris. They were armed with pistols and a grenade with the pin removed which they held as insurance against being attacked by the passengers.

    The ordeal came to a dramatic end on July 4, when the IDF launched a rescue mission. In what is still considered by many to be the most daring hostage rescue mission of all time, a group of Israeli commandosShai Gross and his family immediately after being freed from Entebbe stormed the complex.

Gross, a Shalva volunteer, recounted the last few moments before they were rescued, “All we heard were gun shots. I was paralyzed with fear. At the time, the only possible explanation to the insanity was that they were coming to finally end our lives. How could it even enter anyone’s mind that the IDF had made it all the way to distant Entebbe?!”

The rescue that was under way seems totally unbelievable until Shai Gross saw it with his own eyes. “After a few moments, we realized that we were being rescued by the IDF. That dramatic rush from desperation to salvation… that is a joy I will never forget,” he told a rapt audience.

When the darkness is suddenly transformed to light, is a familiar occurrence in the Shalva center in Jerusalem. For 26 years, Shalva has been helping children with special needs move beyond their limitations. Shalva programs and services are designed to provide individual treatment for the child when also strengthening the fabric of the family. Providing services for more than 500 infants, children and young adults, Shalva accompanies each child from birth to adulthood. Individual tailored programs are designed to help participants reach their full potential and integrate into the community.  The results of this dedication to growth and individual accomplishment could be called unbelievable. At Shalva, nothing is unbelievable. No dream is too big to dream.

   Having personally experienced how a child can be expected to overcome challenges that would try an adult, Gross has added empathy for the children of Shalva. He sees how Shalva’s approach is helping these kids meet their challenges, “Shalva doesn’t see children with disabilities. No. They see superheroes that just need to conquer some challenges. After volunteering at Shalva myself, I have come to realize that we’re all the same: potential heroes trying to overcome our struggles.”

Shai is the proud father of four children. He named his youngest son Yoni in memory of Yoni Netanyahu, the rescue team’s commander and the older brother of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who was killed in the raid.  

Shai Gross was awarded with the Shalva Spirit of Hope award in recognition of how he has met his personal challenges and used that experience to help others.

To learn more about the work of Shalva see



Jay Leno Steps Up For Israel In Spite Of Previous Anti-Israel Pressure

Famed comedian and longtime Tonight Show Host Jay Leno will be stepping up once again in support of Israel. For the third year running, Leno will headline a special night to benefit Israel. In 2014 and 2015, Leno hosted the Genesis Prize award ceremony in Israel, following which he was attacked on social media for his support. In a move that is completely in line with his character, Leno has turned a deaf ear to the naysayers and is headlining a night in support of Israel once again. This time it is a benefit concert for United Hatzalah of Israel, which will be taking place on Sunday, April 10, 2016, at the Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Rose Theater.

The evening, which is being billed as “An Evening of Laughter and Music”, is being held as a fundraiser to support the work of EMS first responders in Israel who have been tirelessly saving lives every day in face of the ongoing terror wave that has struck Israel in the past six months. The funds raised during the evening will be used to purchase much needed medical equipment and supplies, such as defibrillators and ambucycles.

Eli Beer, the Founder of United Hatzalah, said that there were numerous reasons why Mr. Leno of all celebrities was asked to headline the event.

“Jay Leno has hosted two landmark events in Israel over the past two years, the Genesis Prize awards ceremonies, and has said wonderful things about the country. We need better PR for Israel and we couldn't think of a better person to have headline the show than Mr. Leno.”  

Mr. Leno came to Israel in May 2014 in order to host the Genesis Awards and present an award to former New York Mayor and philanthropist Michael Bloomberg. Mr. Leno stated, “I love Israel, that’s why I’m here,” reported Yediot Aharonot news site.

A year later, Mr. Leno hosted the second Genesis Prize event that was awarded to Michael Douglas. At the time, Stan Polovets, co-founder and chairman of the Genesis Prize Foundation, called Mr. Leno “a true friend of Israel” in an article that appeared in the Jerusalem Post. Mr. Leno said that he was excited to be in Israel and was honored to help out.

For his part, Mr. Leno shrugged off the threats and encouragements to drop his Israel-related engagements. Last year Mr. Leno said, “I don’t get these boycotters. I don’t think they quite understand the whole situation. To me, if you want to understand a place you go there and you look the people in the eye and you get a feeling for it. Either it feels good, or it doesn’t feel good. And that’s what works for me.”

“It’s an odd situation that you have Israel here surrounded by a gazillion people… and somehow they’re the underdogs. I think Israel is so efficient in defending itself and so good at it, that to the rest of the world it looks like bullying. It’s mystifying.”

The event is also honoring Lone Soldiers who went from the United States to volunteer in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). According to United Hatzalah, some of the sponsors of the evening, Jay and Jeanie Schottenstein together with Bob and Amy Book and Mendy and Barbara Silber, have teamed up to purchase one hundred pairs of tickets to be given out to the men and women in the greater New York area who have served as IDF Lone Soldiers sometime within the past five years.

This tremendous donation is a tip of the hat to those who volunteer to serve and protect in Israel, during a night which is honoring volunteer EMS personnel as well. “The idea of coming together, to unite in our support of saving lives in Israel, is what this evening is all about,” said Eli Beer. “What better way to show that than by inviting 200 of the people who literally went out of their way and put their lives on the line to defend our country. They volunteer in their style and the volunteer EMS personnel voluntarily drop everything they are doing to save lives in their style. It is a win-win situation for everyone.”   

         An Evening of Laughter and Music will take place on Sunday, April 10th, 
         at 7:30 pm at the Rose Theater, at the Lincoln Center in Central Manhattan. For tickets please call 
         646- 833-7108 or e-mail:

Lone Soldiers who live in the U.S. and who served in the IDF over the last five years can email the New York office of United Hatzalah at: to claim your complimentary tickets. Please include your name and phone number to qualify for the ticket.


American Students Find The Perfect Jewish Education For Free 

All around the world, parents and Jewish teens seek to balance the need for an affordable quality education and the desire for Jewish expression. Jewish parents look for ways to provide their children with a solid Jewish identity and a quality education. For many, the cost of fulltime Jewish education is prohibitive, yet a public school education comes at the expense of the social discomfort. For many families, Jewish education is relegated to bar/bat mitzvah lessons, with the need for a solid academic foundation taking priority.  To develop and maintain a strong sense of Jewish identity becomes a challenge for many teens and young adults.

Looking beyond the traditional options can hold the answer to all their needs.

For some 1600 Jewish students, the solution to this ever-common dilemma has an address. Though radical, these families have decided to invest in a non-traditional way, giving their children the adventure of a lifetime and sending them to high school boarding programs in Israel.

For Ryan Frank, of Los Angeles, and hundreds of his American peers enrolled in Naale Elite Academy’s 25 schools, they found the perfect fit. Naale’s programs provide both an affordable education and great Jewish atmosphere. The tracks offer independent teens in 9th through 12th grade a top-notch Jewish education with a full scholarship. 

Ryan Frank of Los Angeles is having the adventure of a lifetime completing his high school education in the unique Naale Elite Academy program in Israel. While attending boarding school in Israel might seem like a radical approach at first, Frank explained that for him and his family it was the perfect solution to a common problem.

“My family obviously misses me but they are very happy that I got this chance in my life,” Frank said. Though he had never been to Israel prior to enrolling in Naale, he was driven by a desire to visit. “I heard about the good education so it seems like a great idea,” said Frank, who is attending Mosenson in Central Israel. “This is the greatest thing that ever happened in my life. I can't recommend it enough.”

Naale Elite Academy runs specialized tracks include secular and religious programs, an intensive level science and art programs, as well as separate groups for students from predominantly English, French, Spanish and Russian speaking backgrounds. While on the program, students are supported by a whole network of professional assistance, including dorm counselors, social workers, language specialists, psychologists and of course dedicated teachers.

Students take the internationally recognized Israeli high school matriculation exam, the Bagrut. While students are given assistance if they wish to make Aliyah after completing Naale, eventual Aliyah is not a requirement of the program. Although it is a 3 or 4 year course, completing all four years at Naale Elite Academy is not mandatory. Students are free to transfer back to their home countries at any point in time. The Naale full scholarship covers all tuition fees, full board in the on campus boarding school, health insurance, extracurricular activities, trips and excursions, and initial flight to Israel. (Limited registration and acceptance fees to do apply.)

Laurie Green, 17, of East Brunswick, NJ, is overjoyed to be part of Naale Elite Academy program Amana. She “I love the connections with friends that you make here,” she explained. “Both with the other Naale girls and the Israeli girls.”

Green added, “I remember that even when it’s hard, it’s still worth being here at the end.”

The Naale program offers students many special memories. For Green, she treasures the fun and memorable experiences. A favorite: “We went on a trip to Ein Gedi. We saw the waterfalls, went to Masada and got to ride on camels. Then we slept all together in a Bedouin tent in the desert. It made amazing memories,” she said.

To overcome the challenges of mounting tuition costs of Jewish schools, more and more Jewish teens are discovering that Naale Elite Academy is holds the solution to all their problems, with the added benefit of gaining meaningful lifelong experiences, independence and skills. In the meantime, hundreds of Jewish students like Frank and Green are having the greatest time!



                 The Queens College Center for Jewish Studies recognized Michael Resnick, President of Sinai Chapels in Fresh Meadows, Queens for his years of support of the annual Kristallnacht Commemoration and of the Center for Jewish Studies.  Michael Resnick, the Resnick family, and Sinai Chapels have been strong supporters of Jewish education and Jewish causes.  Mr. Resnick was previously recognized by the Queensborough Community College Kupferberg Center and Archives as business leader of the year. The Kristallnacht Commemoration teaches tolerance and a recommitment to combating anti-semitism and hatred.  The Honorable Elizabeth Holtzman presented the keynote address, Bringing Nazi War Criminals in America to Justice.  

Pictured from Left to Right – Bernie Spear, Chairman of the Queens College Center for Jewish Studies Executive Board; Michael Resnick, President of Sinai Chapels; and Félix V. Matos Rodríguez, President of Queens College.  

Photo Credit:  Leo Correa  



Michael N. Rosenblut receives the 2015 Distinguished Service

Michael N. Rosenblut, President and CEO of Parker Jewish Institute for Health Care and Rehabilitation, was honored with the highly esteemed Distinguished Service Award at the Brooklyn United Methodist Church Home. Celebrating 131 years of service and commitment to the community, Brooklyn United Methodist Church Home held its 28th annual Awards Dinner Dance at the exquisite Russo’s on the Bay in Howard Beach, New York. The evening made for an occasion of recognition, honoring the outstanding individuals who have made extraordinary contributions to the community.

Mr. Rosenblut serves on the Boards of LeadingAge New York, Association of Jewish Aging Services, Continuing Care Leadership Coalition and the League of Voluntary Hospitals & Homes of New York, all of which dedicate their time and service to communities to provide superior health care across the continuum for an aging population.            

L-R: The Rev. John H. Cole, Hedy Cardozo (wife of Michael N. Rosenblut), Victor Orriola (CEO, Brooklyn United Methodist Church Home) and Michael N. Rosenblut





Israeli Musician, Snir Yamin, Releases Music Videoin honor of Israeli Prime Minister and Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin on the 20th Anniversary of his Assassination

Israeli musician, Snir Yamin, just released his music video, “Taking,” consisting of footage depicting violence and public rallies spurred by the Israeli/Palestinian conflict as well as scenes of peace, including Israeli Prime Minister and Defense Minister Rabin shaking hands with then-Palestine Liberation Organization chairman Yasser Arafat, with US President Bill Clinton looking on. Yamin releases the video on the 20th anniversary of the assassination of Rabin to promote a message of peace.

Yamin, who started his music career in 2006, grew up witnessing much of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict first-hand, and chose not to join the Israeli army due to his strong convictions against violence. He decided to use, “Taking,” that is set to release in early November, as the backdrop to commemorate Rabin who had worked hard to develop peaceful relations between Israelis and Palestinians.

Snir, has performed throughout Israel, including a recent charity benefit concert at the Barok venue in the city of Be'er Sheva, together with some of the biggest names in the Israeli music scene, such as Hadag Nachash, Efrat Gosh, Dudu Tassa as well as Israeli Idol winners and Dana Lapidot. After traveling to the US in 2013, Snir Yamin recorded and released his four-track EP, Urban Stories, to international audiences on September 20, 2013. With influences from the likes of Damien Rice and John Mayer, the emotional ballads feature lyrics that speak of profound love and heartbreak.

Watch the new video (link below), “Taking,” by Israeli singer-songwriter, Snir Yamin. “Taking” is the first single off of Yamin’s upcoming second EP, Concrete City, set to release in early 2016.


Six-time European Champions Maccabi Tel Aviv and three-time European Champions EA7 Emporio Armani Milan To Play at Madison Square Garden.

The Celebrated European Clubs Will Clash in Two Games As Part of The 2015 Euroleague Basketball World Tour

Six-time European Champs Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv and three-time European champs EA7 Emporio Armani Milan will face off at two of America’s most symbolic basketball arenas this October, bringing the devotion and passion of Euroleague Basketball to American fans for the first time.

The first of the Euro Classic games will be played on Oct. 1, at Chicago’s iconic United Center, marking the first time that any Euroleague team has ever appeared there. Three days later, on Oct. 4, Maccabi and Milan will battle in New York City at the ‘Mecca’ of basketball, Madison Square Garden.

Maccabi Tel Aviv and Milan enjoy one of Europe’s most enduring rivalries.

"After many years of sending our teams to the United States on the Euroleague Basketball World Tour, we are very excited about the opportunity for two of them to play each other there for the first time," Jordi Bertomeu, Euroleague Basketball President and CEO, said. "Americans know their basketball, which is precisely why we are sure they will like what they see of the Euroleague's unique style of play. Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv and EA7 Emporio Armani Milan are two of the many Euroleague clubs that are steeped in history, but they also play the kind of basketball that we are sure will be to the liking of fans in Chicago and New York."

These two games will be part of the Euroleague Basketball World Tour 2015, marking the 13th consecutive preseason in which Euroleague teams have traveled from Europe to play.  The games in Chicago and New York, however, will mark the first time that Euroleague teams will play each other abroad.

For Maccabi Tel Aviv, a flagship club that has forged a strong tradition of playing preseason games outside of Europe, the game in New York City will mark its third appearance in Madison Square Garden, after having played in front of packed arenas against the New York Knicks in 2007 and 2009. The team recently has opened an office in New York City as part of its global expansion plans.

“Maccabi Tel Aviv is thrilled to add another exciting chapter to its long history of play in the U.S., and to continue its leading role in promoting the globalization of basketball,” said Danny Federman, general manager of Maccabi Tel Aviv. “We always see thousands of our fans come out to our games in the U.S., as was the case this past October when we played in Brooklyn against the Nets and in Cleveland against the Cavs. We’re happy to present a chance for American basketball fans, Maccabi fans, and the strong Jewish-American communities in New York and Chicago to see us in their hometowns.”

"As a club we have a tradition of strong relationships with US basketball,” Flavio Portaluppi, President of EA7 Emporio Armani Milan, said. “Five members of the Springfield Hall of Fame have also been members of our team. So we feel this historical step is consistent with our values and our past. We are excited to bring our team to two of the greatest arenas in the world and share with American fans and with the many members of the Italian-American community the opportunity to see what Olimpia basketball is all about. Hopefully we'll make our owner Giorgio Armani and all our Milan fans proud of the way we'll represent them."

Tickets for the Euro Classic game in New York can be purchased through TicketMaster or at the Madison Square Garden box office 



Individuals with Developmental Disabilities Enjoy Unique OHEL Speed Dating Program

OHEL Children’s Home and Family Services recently joined the Sephardic Bikur Holim Chesed Mission in hosting a wonderful evening of social interaction for 20 male and female adults with developmental disabilities. The speed dating program is an outgrowth of OHEL’s successful Simcha Program that provides social skills training for individuals who are effectively managing their disability and who are looking to date.

Sarah Kahan, LCSW and coordinator of the Simcha Program at OHEL explained that “People with disabilities have the same desires that you have. They seek to fulfillment through meaningful relationships and a good daily structure either through paid employment, volunteer work or a day program. They also want to be allowed to make choices in their lives about dating and marriage. They seek to care for others, and to be cared for. Dating may be more challenging at times, but a disability should not never preclude the opportunity to find a soulmate.”

On July 21, OHEL was invited to join the Sephardic Bikur Holim, Chesed Mission.

The project engaged 60 volunteers and 20 OHEL participants with developmental disabilities in a jammed packed day of Chesed and volunteering with four different nonprofit organizations.

OHEL was responsible for the closing program for the day, which took place in Deal, NJ. 

The program brought the Chesed Mission participants together with over 35 volunteers from the SBH Youth Chessid Program who had set up a fabulous dinner in the home of Raquel & Gabby Habert.

The night culminated with an interactive shidduch speed dating program for OHEL individuals.

Led by Sarah Kahan, MCSW and Dr. Michoel Friend, PHD, the volunteer group from SBH were trained and acted as “shidduch coaches” to the OHEL group, coaching OHEL individuals and their potential companions. The SBH Volunteers mentored the OHEL participants and provided them with pre-written questions to help the potential shidduchim engage each other in meaningful conversations.

The night culminated with a dance party lead by a professional DJ.

The event was enormously successful, creating three ongoing shidduchim, and tremendously valuable lessons in understanding for all those involved.

For the individuals wishing to pursue relationships, OHEL Bais Ezra, has created a step by step guide to facilitate dating, engagement, and marriage! If you know someone with a disability and would like to find out more information, please call Sarah Kahan 718 686 3262.

Since 1969, OHEL Children’s Home and Family Services has served as a dependable haven of individual and family support, helping people of all ages effectively manage disability, surmount everyday challenges, heal from trauma, and manage with strength and dignity during times of crises




OHEL embraced the “Imagine” theme of The Celebrate Israel Parade with “Imagine A Community Without Stigma”
Camp Kaylie embraced the “Imagine” them of The Celebrate Israel Parade with “Imagine An Experience for Life!”

Leading Israeli Athletes, Artists, and Innovators Join Celebrate Israel Festival

Former MTV VJ Becky Griffin to Host the Largest Gathering of Israeli-Americans in New York

The Celebrate Israel Festival, slated to be the largest gathering to date of Israeli-Americans in New York, a wide array of notable Israelis have confirmed their participation, from some of the country’s greatest basketball stars to representatives of several of its most successful start-ups. Presiding over the basketball court at Pier 94 will be the six-time European and 51-time Israeli league champions, Maccabi Tel Aviv, represented by their legendary players Derrick Sharp, the 15-year Maccabi Tel Aviv veteran and former member of Israel’s national basketball team, and David Blu, considered one of the best Jewish players of all time, with two Euroleague and five Israeli league championships under his belt. Sharp and Blu will host a fast-paced clinic, as well as a two-on-two tournament and a slam-dunk contest for festival-goers of all ages. Keeping with the athletic theme, the festival’s organizer, the Israeli-American Council (IAC), has engaged Israeli TV star and current sports columnist for the Israeli newspaper Calcalist, Becky Griffin will serve as the event’s host. The daughter of legendary Israeli and Maccabi Tel Aviv basketball star Bob Griffin, Becky started her career as a reporter for Israel’s Sports Channel before moving to London to work as a VJ at MTV Europe.

In partnership with the Consulate General of Israel in New York, the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York (JCRC-NY), and the UJA Federation of New York, the Festival will take place on May 31 at Pier 94 from 2:00 p.m to 7:00 p.m immediately following the annual Celebrate Israel Parade, as an anchor event in a marathon day of events celebrating Israeli culture.

“I am thrilled to be returning once again as the Celebrate Israel Parade correspondent, and am especially excited this year to serve as the first-ever Celebrate Israel Festival Master of Ceremonies,” said Griffin. “I’m a proud Israeli-American, and I can’t wait for the rest of New York to experience the vibrant and warm Israeli culture that I’ve always known and loved.”

Before the Festival’s headliners, Israeli superstar Rita and Rinat Gabay, Israel’s most beloved children’s entertainer, take the stage, Ambassador Ido Aharoni, Consul General of Israel in New York, will open the official ceremony. In addition, on the Blue Note sponsored stage, some of Israel’s finest jazz musicians will be performing, including singer-songwriter Mika Hary and guitarists Nadav Remez, Yotam Silberstein, and Dida Pelled

Those craving more cerebral pleasures will discover them in the Festival’s Tech Pavilion, where a number of technology innovators will showcase their work. Participating in the pavilion are a host of up-and-coming start-ups like Farmigo, a technology company that connects communities to local produce, as well as more established enterprises like Gett, a leader in the on-demand black car industry.

Reflecting the Festival’s diversity and commitment to Israel’s multicultural nature, the Festival’s food court will feature everything from the gourmet breaded chicken cutlets of the Schnitzel Truck to the Mediterranean delicacies of the Shakshuka Truck, with sushi from Sushi Tokyo and frozen yogurt from 16 Handles thrown in for good measure. In addition Tabor and Montefiore wineries, leaders in Israel’s respected wine industry, will be offering tastings of their wines.

“As Israelis living in New York, we know very well just how rich and layered Israeli culture truly is,” said Yehudit Feinstein-Mentesh, the IAC’s New York Regional Director. “For one magical afternoon, we’re thrilled to bring all that richness to New York, and paint the Big Apple blue-and-white for a day.”

The Festival will also include dozens of activities geared towards anyone from young professionals to families, including a petting zoo, a graffiti wall, and a Krav Maga martial arts academy; a singles bar; and plenty of opportunities to experience Israeli food, arts, sports, technology, and culture. Tickets can be purchased online for $5 for children and $10 for adults here.

About the Israeli-American Council
The Israeli-American Council (IAC), the preeminent Israeli-American organization in the United States, seeks to build an engaged and united Israeli-American community that strengthens our next generations, the American Jewish community, and the State of Israel. Headquartered in Los Angeles with offices nationwide, the IAC currently serves the Israeli-American community, currently estimated at 600,000, with a large variety of programs and events for all ages, and supports a wide range of other community non-profit organizations and initiatives. For more information about the IAC, please visit



Weizmann Institute Graduate Students Visit New York City

Left to right: Tom Bielik, Dr. Ami Shalit, Shira Weingarten-Gabbay, and Ella Doron-Mandel at the American Committee’s National Office in New York City.

The American Committee for the Weizmann Institute of Science’s New York Tri-State Region recently welcomed three inspiring graduate students and an administrator from the Institute’s Feinberg Graduate School (FGS). At the American Committee’s National Office in New York City, the students, accompanied by Feinberg’s Director and Academic Secretary Dr. Ami Shalit, shared their passion for science and their experience of pursuing research under the guidance of world-renowned experts at the Weizmann Institute. American Committee supporters enjoyed hearing from these young innovators, who are driving the technological and biomedical revolution that defines modern Israel.



Local Students win American Friends of Leket Israel’s Second Annual Float Design Contest

Teaneck, NJ: March 30, 2015 – Sienna Dube, Isabella Einhorn and Alexandra Greene, third grade students at Yavneh Academy in Paramus, NJ, came in first place in American Friends of Leket Israel’s Second Annual ( Celebrate Israel Parade Float Design Contest. Sienna, Isabella and Alexandra will ride on the Leket float that they designed at this year’s Celebrate Israel Parade on Sunday, May 31, 2015. As first place winners, they have also won an ice cream and pizza partty for their class.

The second place winning team of Ariel Hammerman and Galit Usdan, fourth grade students at Joseph Kushner Hebrew Academy in Livingston, NJ, will also join AFOLI on their float this year.

The third place winner, Daniel Filler, a third grade student at Politz Day School in Cherry, Hill, NJ, will ride on the AFOLI float at the parade this year.

Abrams Hebrew Academy in Yardley, PA submitted the most amount of designs to the Second Annual American Friends of Leket Israel Float Design Contest. As the winning school, Abrams Hebrew Academy will receive a $500 gift card for school supplies.
180 students from several schools in multiple states submitted over 155 beautiful and creative designs.

“We are thrilled that so many students participated in Leket’s second annual float design contest. The designs submitted were all wonderful and creative,” said Joseph Gitler, Leket Israel’s Founder and Chairman. “We appreciate all of the hard work that went into creating the designs and we want to thank each and every student for their submission.”

About Leket Israel: Serving as the country's National Food Bank and largest food rescue network, Leket Israel works to alleviate the problem of nutritional insecurity among the growing numbers of Israel's poor.  In 2014, with the help of over 55,000 volunteers, Leket Israel rescued 1.5 million hot meals and 25 million lbs. of produce and perishable goods, and supplied over 1.2 million volunteer prepared sandwiches to underprivileged children.  Food that would have otherwise gone to waste is redistributed to 180 nonprofit partners caring for the needy, reaching 140,000+ people weekly. To learn more about Leket Israel and to see the winners of the Leket Float Design Contest, please visit




Aliyah fairs across North America expected to attract thousands of Aliyah minded individuals

Seeking to help potential immigrants to Israel make informed choices, Nefesh B’Nefesh (NBN) will be conducting a week of Aliyah mega events and fairs in five major cities across North America together with The Jewish Agency for Israel, Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael, JNF-USA and Israel’s Ministry of Aliyah & Immigrant Absorption.

The Aliyah events, to be held in Los Angeles, Montreal, Toronto, Florida and New York between March 8th  and 15th, will incorporate Aliyah-related seminars and workshops and an Israeli vendor marketplace. Israeli professionals from a variety of Aliyah related fields, including shippers, accountants, financial planners, insurance, healthcare, real estate, universities and more, will help prospective Olim advance their Aliyah plans. Real estate developers and agents, Tzofim Garin Tzabar, The Jewish Agency for Israel will also be present at the event.

Participants will benefit from workshops and seminars on topics such as careers in Israel, financial planning, taxes & budgeting, Israeli healthcare and Aliyah rights and benefits. Representatives of The Jewish Agency for Israel will also discuss the process for verifying Aliyah eligibility and the Agency’s programs to help immigrants transition to Israeli life. Nefesh B'Nefesh’s ‘Go North’ and ‘Go South’ programs will be specially highlighted at each of the venues.

The NYC Mega Event will also feature Israeli Ministry of Health officials, who will help immigrants speed up the medical licensing process by submitting applications for Olim who plan to move to Israel soon. These officials will also offer seminars on licensing procedures in medicine, dentistry, physical therapy, speech therapy, occupational therapy, nursing, nutrition, pharmacology, and more – and provide personal information sessions.

To date, more than 50,000 North American and British Jews have attended Nefesh B'Nefesh pre-Aliyah informational seminars throughout the U.S., Canada and the U.K., including tailored programs, events and individual counseling sessions.

About Nefesh B’Nefesh (
Founded in 2002, Nefesh B’Nefesh in cooperation with the Israeli government and The Jewish Agency for Israel, is dedicated to revitalizing Aliyah from North America and the UK by removing or minimizing the financial, professional, logistical and social obstacles of Aliyah. To date, Nefesh B'Nefesh has assisted over 42,000 newcomers to Israe



AIPAC Honors United Hatzalah as Leading Innovator

United Hatzalah (UH), Israel’s premier volunteer emergency response network, was honored for its leadership, innovation and service by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) Policy Conference in Washington, D.C.. The organization’s Founder and President Eli Beer stunned the 16,500 conference participants by arriving on stage lights and sirens blaring on an ambucycle, a specially equipped motorcycle ambulance designed by United Hatzalah to speed up emergency response times.

United Hatzalah was recognized for its innovation in effectively and efficiently assisting in saving lives. With 2,500 volunteers across Israel, United Hatzalah responds to 700 emergency calls daily, using tailored GPS technology and smartphone app to respond to crises within minutes after the initial report. United Hatzalah has been a model for the world, with EMTs in Argentina, Brazil, Panama, Lithuania, Ukraine, Rwanda and Jersey City now implementing the Israeli-developed strategies and methods.

“Driving in on a United Hatzalah ambucycle, one of Israel's outstanding innovations, talking in front of 16,500 people, and hearing them cheer made me tremendously proud of what UH does every single minute to protect Israel, and proud of the work we are doing to export this beautiful concept to wherever it is needed,” said Beer. “As an Israeli I am happy that there are organizations like AIPAC that work day and night to protect Israel and help spread the good word about the work the people of Israel do for this world.”

Footage of Eli Beer's presentation can be found online at To learn more about United Hatzalah, visit representatives at the AIPAC Policy Conference Village or online at

For more information or to arrange interviews, contact





AFMDA and the Israeli Wine Producers Association Announce New Partnership
to Help Save Lives in Israel with Magen David Adom

AFMDA and the Israeli Wine Producers Association Announce New Partnership to Help Save Lives in Israel with Magen David Adom


As Americans continue to look for ways to support Israel after this summer’s Operation Protective Edge, a new partnership can help them save lives in Israel while also sustaining the country’s growing wine industry.

American Friends of Magen David Adom (AFMDA) and the Israeli Wine Producers Association (IWPA) have announced a new initiative whereby IWPA will donate $24 to MDA (via AFMDA) for every 12 bottles of Israeli wines purchased through October 31, 2014. The funds will help MDA, Israel’s national emergency medical response and blood services organization, replenish critical medical supplies such as needles, bandages, and blood transfusion kits that were used up during Operation Protective Edge.

With the high holidays fast approaching, now is a great time to buy Israeli wines. Among the wineries participating are Gamla, Barkan, Carmel, Shiloh, Binyamina, Flam, Segal’s, and Domaine du Castel. Many of Israel’s 300 wineries are now producing internationally-renown wines, and sales of Israeli wines top $315 million annually.

The participating Israeli wines can be purchased at retailers and online. Rebates and receipts must be mailed by November 30, 2014 to qualify. The $24 donation will be made only in increments of 12 purchased bottles; although the denomination does not matter (i.e. a person can provide three receipts with four bottles on each). The donation rebate forms for MDA are available in stores, as well as online at: : and

For more information about MDA’s lifesaving work in Israel, visit To learn about the Israeli Wine Producers Association, visit





Israeli Minister of Immigration and Absorption, MK Sofa Landver, to be the keynote speaker at the event

Sunday, March 9, 12:00 pm, Crowne Plaza Times Square, 1605 Broadway, New York, NY

Nefesh B’Nefesh will be conducting a week of Aliyah Fairs in seven major cities across North America in conjunction with Israel’s Ministry of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption, The Jewish Agency for Israel, Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael and JNF-USA. The Aliyah Fairs, which will take place in Toronto, Montreal, Florida, Baltimore, Chicago, Los Angeles and New York between March 2nd and 10th, will incorporate Aliyah-related seminars and workshops, as well as personal consultations with staff from The Jewish Agency for Israel, Tzofim Garin Tzabar and Nefesh B’Nefesh including representatives from the ‘Go North’ and ‘Go South’ programs. Representatives from various Israeli municipalities, high schools and universities, MATI business development for entrepreneurs, real estate developers and agents, financial consultants, insurance agents and shippers will also be present for participants to consult with.

Israeli Minister of Immigration and Absorption, MK Sofa Landver, will be the guest speaker. Participants will benefit from workshops and seminars on various topics such as: Careers in Israel, Financial Planning, Taxes & Budgeting, The Israeli Healthcare System, Introduction to the Aliyah Process, Aliyah Rights and Benefits and the ‘Go North’ and ‘Go South’ Programs. In addition, representatives of The Jewish Agency for Israel will speak about the process for verifying Aliyah eligibility and the various programs it offers to assist immigrants in their transition to Israeli life.

To date, Nefesh B’Nefesh has assisted over 38,000 Olim. More than 50,000 North American and British Jews have attended Nefesh B'Nefesh pre-Aliyah informational seminars throughout the US, Canada and UK, including specially tailored programs, events and individual counseling sessions. For a full schedule of these Aliyah fairs, please visit

About Nefesh B’Nefesh:
Founded in 2002, Nefesh B’Nefesh in cooperation with the Israeli government and The Jewish Agency for Israel, is dedicated to revitalizing Aliyah from North America and the UK by removing or minimizing the financial, professional, logistical and social obstacles of Aliyah. To date, Nefesh B'Nefesh has assisted over 38,000 newcomers to Israel.  




Sold-Out New York City event raises $1M for lifesaving ambulances and equipment in Israel; Meredith Berkman and Dr. Sarah Sternklar honored

L-R: Israel's UN Ambassador Ron Proser, host Katie Couric, award presenter Mayor Michael Bloomberg, event chair Steven Einhorn, honoree Dr. Sarah Sternklar, honoree Meredith Berkman, event chair Daniel Mintz.New York  — New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Katie Couric, and Israel’s UN Ambassador Ron Prosor helped American Friends of Magen David Adom (MDA) raise $1 million for MDA at its Annual New York Benefit Dinner Monday night in Manhattan. All funds will go to support ambulances and lifesaving equipment for MDA, Israel’s national emergency-response, ambulance, and blood-services organization.

More than 400 guests attended the event, which honored Meredith Berkman with AFMDA’s 2013 Humanitarian Award. Dr. Sarah Sternklar received AFMDA’s 2013 Woman of Valor Award. “MDA’s willingness to help save all lives is something we all should rally behind,” said Couric, who hosted the event. “I’ve built a career on the pursuit of a good story. And in a part of the world that’s constantly producing ominous headlines, I've clearly found a positive one.”

Mayor Bloomberg, whose 20-year support of MDA includes helping finance construction of the William H. Bloomberg Jerusalem MDA Emergency Medical Station, presented both honorees with their awards. He also proclaimed December 9 to be “Magen David Adom Day” in New York City.  Ambassador Prosor surprised guests by coming to pay tribute to MDA and Berkman, a New York–based journalist and philanthropist.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg proclaims November 9 to be "Magen David Adom Day" in New York City“MDA is about saving lives in Israel and around the world, no matter who you are, where you come from, or what you believe,” Berkman said. “It’s an organization that represents the best of our Jewish and human values, at a time when Israel faces existential threats on so many fronts.”

Dr. Sternklar, a Manhattan psychologist and Berkman’s good friend and partner in various charitable ventures, dedicated her award to MDA’s first responders.  “They risk their lives; when Israel needs them, when we need them, they are always there,” she said.

The New York dinner continues recent fundraising successes for AFMDA throughout the U.S. In October, its inaugural Los Angeles gala raised nearly $4 million, the most ever at an AFMDA event. Subsequent major events in Detroit, Cleveland, and Aventura, Fla., have raised well over $2 million. AFMDA’s next major events are in Florida: the Porto Vita Dinner in Aventura is Tuesday, February 4, and the Celebration of Life Gala in Palm Beach is Sunday, February 23.

MDA provides a rapid and skilled emergency medical response, including disaster, ambulance, and blood services, to Israel’s 8 million people. MDA is the only organization mandated by the Israeli government to serve in this role, but is not a government agency, instead relying on funding from donors around the world. AFMDA is MDA’s U.S.-based fundraising affiliate, raising more than 80 percent of the charitable dollars MDA receives annually.

Photo Credit: Howard Wechsler


American Technion Society Metro Region Elects New Leader

Ken Rubenstein, a New York lawyer and active philanthropist in the Jewish community, has been elected to lead the largest U.S. branch of the American Technion Society (ATS), which raises support for and awareness of the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa, Israel.  Mr. Rubenstein, 59, co-head of the Patent Law Group at Proskauer Rose LLP, will be installed as president of the ATS New York Metropolitan Region at a celebratory ATS dinner on October 2, 2013, succeeding Rod Feldman, who has held the position since November 2010.

(LEFT TO RIGHT) ATS New York Metro Board Member and event emcee Hannah Rechler Rabinowitz, former Chairman Alan Forman, new President Ken Rubenstein, ATS Executive Vice President Melvyn H. Bloom and new Chairman Rod Feldman at the October 2nd Board Installation.“I believe that the future of Israel is in high-tech, both from the point of view of the economy and the defense of the country; and the Technion produces the manpower that makes that possible,” says Mr. Rubenstein. “I'm excited and looking forward to the challenge.”

Mr. Rubenstein would like to strengthen the organization by expanding the New York Metropolitan Board of Directors from its current 24 members by at least another 10 people. “I'd like to reach out to people from different demographic and professional areas, Technion alumni included, and look forward to their active participation.”

One of his priorities is to raise $50 million dollars over the next two years, $30 million of which will complete the New York Metropolitan Region Campaign; the remaining $20 million will support the faculty,   students and research initiatives of the Jacobs Technion-Cornell Innovation Institute (JTCII).

The Region has been blessed with great leadership,” says Jerome Kleinman, Director of the ATS New York Metropolitan Region. “Rod (Feldman) leaves a great legacy of enthusiasm and appreciation for what the Technion means to Israel and the world,” he says of the outgoing president. “And we are excited about working with Ken, whose energy and dedication to the Technion is unsurpassed.”

Mr. Rubenstein is an alumnus of MIT, where he earned his bachelor's and doctorate degrees in Physics in 1975 and 1979, respectively. He went on to study law at New York Law School, earning his J.D. in 1983. His background in science was a natural fit for patent law as well as for his interest in the Technion.

Mr. Rubenstein, involved with ATS since 1980. has served on the local ATS board for the past six years. He also has generously supported several Technion projects, including an apartment in the Morton and Beverley Rechler Family Foundation Dormitory and the MIT-Technion Hibur Program.

In addition to his support for the Technion, Mr. Rubenstein and his wife Randee have been involved in other Jewish and Israeli organizations including AIPAC; the Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest, New Jersey; Joseph Kushner Hebrew Academy/Rae Kushner Yeshiva High School; and Greater MetroWest Day School Initiative for Excellence and Affordability. He and Randee live in Long Branch, New Jersey, and Manhattan.  They have four children, and two grandchildren. One daughter is currently a student in the TEAMS (Technion American Medical School) program.

The Technion-Israel Institute of Technology is a major source of the innovation and brainpower that drives the Israeli economy, and a key to Israel's renown as the world's “Start-Up Nation.” Its three Nobel Prize winners exemplify academic excellence. Technion people, ideas and inventions make immeasurable contributions to the world including life-saving medicine, sustainable energy, computer science, water conservation and nanotechnology. The Joan and Irwin Jacobs Technion-Cornell Innovation Institute is a vital component of Cornell NYC Tech, and a model for graduate applied science education that is expected to transform New York City's economy.

American Technion Society (ATS) donors provide critical support for the Technion - Based in New York City, the ATS and its network of chapters across the U.S. provide funds for scholarships, fellowships, faculty recruitment and chairs, research, buildings, laboratories, classrooms and dormitories, and more.


Historic Sales:  Over $1 Billion In 2013 U.S. Israel Bond Investments

NEW YORK- Annual Israel bond investments in the U.S. domestic market exceeded $1 billion for the first time, as 2013 sales broke through the historic threshold in early November and continue to surge.  With six weeks still remaining in the year, it is anticipated domestic investments in Israel bonds will surpass $1.1 billion.

By comparison, U.S. Israel bond investments for 2011 were $634 million. For 2012, they reached $816 million, which, at the time, represented an all-time high for domestic Israel bond sales.

In praising the record results, Sigalit Siag, Israel’s chief fiscal officer for the Western Hemisphere, applauded the Bonds organization for “proving itself once again as a reliable source of funding for Israel’s economy.” She cited the organization’s “unique ability to raise capital,” as well as its success in securing sales from “a strong, diverse investor base.”

Bonds Chairman of the Board Richard Hirsch said the record sales "solidify the reputation of the Bonds organization as a dependable economic and strategic resource for Israel."
 Added President & CEO Izzy Tapoohi: “The $1 billion achievement dispels the notion that Israel bonds are bought in great numbers only when Israel confronts a crisis. Today, Israel bonds are perceived not only as a gesture of solidarity, but as an opportunity to become a stakeholder in one of the world’s most resilient economies.”

Development Corporation for Israel, commonly known as Israel Bonds, offers investments that diversify portfolios and preserve capital.  Capital realized through the sale of Israel bonds has developed every aspect of Israel’s economy, enabling cutting-edge innovation that saves lives and changes the world on a daily basis. Recognized as a valued economic and strategic resource, the Bonds organization has secured global sales exceeding $35 billion since the first bonds were issued in 1951.

Contact: James S. Galfund


Charity on the Kinneret: Tiberias Soup Kitchen Serves Hot Food Seasoned with Kindness

Mrs. Lee Steinberg and Meir Panim are celebrating the 12th anniversary of the Free Restaurant in Tiberias, Israel. This restaurant-style soup kitchen known for its delicious, nutritious meals served in a dignified and inviting atmosphere. One hundred and sixty meals are served daily and sixty Meals-on-Wheels are packaged and delivered to the homebound. Located in the city center, the Tiberias Free Restaurant serves people who come daily to get a nutritious, and for many, their only hot meal of the day.

In addition to fresh, hot daily meals, visitors to the Tiberias Free Restaurant may take home extra portions. Before holidays and Shabbat, the restaurant donates food and packaged meals to the needy.
According to Shmuel Levy, logistics manager for Meir Panim, the demographics of visitors to the Meir Panim restaurant vary, from the elderly barely surviving on pension funds to the working poor struggling to feed their

Lee SteinbergEighty-five-year-old Ruth called Meir Panim “something special.” Widowed, Ruth said she fell into a serious depression after her husband passed away four years ago.

Tiberias kitchenThe restaurant not only provides her with a warm meal, but gives her the opportunity to socialize as well. “They take care of us and are kind,” she said. “This institution is doing a huge mitzvah in taking care of us – the people of Israel who have no family or work to sustain us.”

Mrs. Steinberg, who resides in Floral Park, NY, has funded this operation since its inception. While her philanthropy and interest is wide-spread, her connection with Meir Panim is particularly strong. She is also involved with the Israel Nutrition Center in Kiryat Gat, which will further extend the wide range of food and outreach programs of Meir Panim. She is looking forward to the opening of this revolutionary new facility.

Her father’s family (the Baum family of Fort Wayne, Indiana) was staunchly Zionist and recognized, early on, the urgent need for a Jewish homeland. They were instrumental in creating the first girls’ agricultural school in Israel.

“It has been most rewarding to be a part of American Friends of Meir Panim,” says Mrs. Steinberg. “I am watching Meir Panim grow into a nationwide network of centers providing every type of sustenance for those in need, regardless of background or ethnicity.”


HASHAVA Increases Aid To Holocaust Survivors during the High Holidays

During the High Holiday season, a period when the expenses tend to grow, HASHAVA doubled the monthly grant to Holocaust survivors to provide the necessary aid and assistance to enable survivors to enjoy this special time of the year.

HASHAVA (The Holocaust Restitution Company of Israel) was established in 2007, following the 2006 enactment of the Holocaust Victims' Assets Law passed by the Knesset of the State of Israel. The objective established for HASHAVA is to locate assets in Israel of Holocaust victims and returning them to the rightful heirs all over the world. 

Each year, HASHAVA provides about 100 million shekels of aid and assistance to approximately 11,000 Holocaust survivors in need. Aid comes in various ways, including:

  • The transfer of quarterly monetary grants issued directly to the survivors.
  • Distribution of cash debit cards for the purchasing of goods in supermarket.
  • Contributing to the cost of purchasing prescription medications.
  • Furthermore HASHAVA is engaged in renovating the homes of Holocaust survivors in need and adapting these homes to their special needs.

For further information, please call +972-3-516 4117


Mega Martha’s Vineyard Festival To Benefit Kidney Disease Research in Israel

The inaugural “On the Vine” music and entertainment festival will be held in Martha’s Vineyard on Aug. 22-25, attracting celebrities and artists to raise awareness about kidney disease and support remarkable research at Rambam Health Care Campus in Haifa.
On The Vine will be a four-day showcase of artistic, musical and theatrical talents united in reducing the prevalence of kidney disease among African Americans.

Proceeds from the festival will go to benefit research by Professor Karl Skorecki, the director of medical and research development at Rambam, and colleagues who have identified the gene that marks the prevalence for kidney disease among people of African descent, thus paving the way for researchers to better prevent and treat conditions.

“As an observant Jew and a Jew living in Israel, I think that what I’m doing is a continuation of what millennia of others have done; the Jewish people have always tried to be at the forefront of tikun olam [repairing the world] and being a part of the universal message of trying your best” said Dr. Skorecki.

African Americans are 3.5 times more likely to suffer from kidney disease and some 12 million African Americans are diagnosed with the condition. About 30 percent of all patients treated for kidney failure are African American.

Singer Natalie Cole, a kidney disease survivor, will headline the event with R&B musician Kenny "BabyFace" Edmonds. Also preforming will be comedian and actor Richard Lewis from the series Curb Your Enthusiasm. During the festival, there will be a silent auction of celebrity goods and appearances by an assortment of performers, including Grammy Award winning violinist Miri Ben-Ari, and jazz greats Kahil El Zabar, Roy Hargrove and James Carter.

American Friends of Rambam Executive Director Michele Segelnick said, “We are collaborating with ‘On The Vine’ to emphasize the importance of shedding light to the horrible impact kidney disease has had on the African American community and the potential of the research being conducted at Rambam. We are excited about all who have come together in support of this cause.”
Segelnick added, “We are proud to show how Israel, as the Jewish nation, is working to improve the health and the lives of other population groups. It is quintessential that Jews and non-Jews alike can benefit from Rambam’s research and innovation, because the hospital stands on offer fair and quality care to all individuals.”

Here is a link to a video about the upcoming event.


Investing In Israel

New York UJA-Federation Executive Vice President and CEO John Ruskay (left) presents Israel Bonds President and CEO Izzy Tapoohi (center) and Chairman of the Board Richard L. Hirsch (right) with a check for  $7.5 million, representing the Federation’s investment in Israel bonds.

Ruskay said this is “another critical way to invest in the strength and future of the State of Israel.” Izzy Tapoohi expressed appreciation, saying, “The UJA Federation has a strong record of support that reflects the organization’s confidence in the investment value of Israel bonds and the strength of Israel’s economy. 

Investing in Israel bonds also sends a strong message to BDS proponents, letting them know they will never win.”

Photo credit: Richard Lobell


Dr Oz: ‘Coexistence Model’ Found at Haifa’s Rambam Hospital

Internationally acclaimed healer of the body Dr. Mehmet Oz joined Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, called by many a healer of the soul, on a visit to Rambam Health Care Campus in Haifa on July 31.

 Dr. Mehmet Oz and Rabbi Shmuley Boteach answer questions about Jewish and medical values from David Sterling, treasurer of American Friends of Rambam.“I learned about Rambam several years ago and its rich tradition in Dr. Mehmet Oz and Rabbi Shmuley Boteach pose for cameras during a tour of the construction zone of the Sammy Ofer Fortified Underground Emergency Hospital.innovation,” Dr. Oz said. “Rambam is entrenched with a culture of a heterogeneous mix of Arabs and Israelis – a microcosm of what it should be like in the whole world… Rambam is a model of coexistence,” Dr. Oz told hundreds of medical specialists and fans.

Led by Prof. Karl Skorecki, Rambam’s director of medical and research development, Dr. Oz and Rabbi Boteach toured the Sammy Ofer Fortified Underground Emergency Hospital and Rambam’s state-of-the-art shock-trauma ward, prior to hosting a public lecture on health, morality, religion and culture.

Upon entering the underground hospital, Dr. Oz said that it “speaks to how we need a holistic place for healing, which means a hospital’s commitment to giving [patients] peace of mind in all conditions, including wartime.” He continued, this facility “also means giving you peace of mind when you go to the hospital in wartime that you are in a healing environment.”

Following rocket attacks from Lebanon that landed on the Rambam Health Care Campus in the summer of 2006, the hospital began constructing a 1,500 car parking lot that within 72 hours can be converted into 2,000-bed underground hospital, the world’s largest subterranean hospital facility. The Sammy Ofer Fortified Underground Emergency hospital is protected against biological
or chemical warfare, complete with its own generators, water supply, state-of-the-art equipment and more. 

Because Rambam is the largest full-service and trauma hospital serving the two million residents of northern Israel, this facility will prepare the hospital to continue treating patients in case of war. Rambam is now beginning its final push to equip this underground hospital for use when needed.

Photo on right:
Dr. Mehmet Oz and Rabbi Shmuley Boteach pose for cameras during a tour of the construction zone of the Sammy Ofer Fortified Underground Emergency Hospital.
Photo on left: Dr. Mehmet Oz and Rabbi Shmuley Boteach answer questions about Jewish and medical values from David Sterling, treasurer of American Friends of Rambam.

Pictures (Credit Pioter Fliter)

Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem To Host Symposium on Breast Cancer

Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem, which has established itself as one of Israel’s leading hospitals for the treatment of breast cancer and related conditions, will host a “Breast Cancer Symposium” on Sunday, July 21, 2013.

Three  guest speakers will address participants as well as join in a panel discussion.  They are Dr. Armando E. Giuliano, Executive Vice Chair of Surgery for Surgical Oncology in the Department of Surgery at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles; Professor Hadassah Degani, a member of the faculty of The Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot and an Israel Cancer Association-funded researcher who developed a non-invasive method to differentiate between cancerous tumors of the breast and benign lumps; and  Dr. Pavel Crystal, Assistant Professor at the University of Toronto and Staff Radiologist of Breast Imaging for the University Health Network and Mount Sinai Hospital, Princess Margaret Cancer Centre in Toronto.

Professor Jonathan Halevy, Director-General of Shaare Zedek Medical Center since 1988, will preside over the symposium.

Earlier this year, Shaare Zedek Medical Center opened the all new Diagnostic Breast Health Center, a comprehensive facility for the identification and diagnosis of growths and tumors in the breast.  The Center is directed by one of the world’s leading mammography experts as well as one Israel’s premier breast cancer diagnosticians, Dr.  Shalom Strano.

American Committee for Shaare Zedek Medical Center (ACSZ) raises funds to support the work of Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem.  For 111 years, the hospital has played an essential role in the life of the city.  The 800 bed facility treats hundreds of thousands of patients a year in its 30 inpatient Departments and 70 outpatient units.



Teaming up with the Hampton Synagogue for the Fourth of July weekend, Israel Bonds sold more than $9 million in Israeli securities at a series of exciting and well-attended events. Israel Bonds President & CEO Izzy Tapoohi said it was a spectacularly successful experience and gladly accepted Rabbi Marc Schneier’s suggestion that it become an annual summer happening at the Hampton Synagogue. “In addition to being our auspicious summer debut in an area of extraordinary potential,” Mr. Tapoohi said,”it was one of the  most successful synagogue events we have ever held.”

From left to right:, Jeff Weisenfeld - Co-chairman, Bobby Fisher - Member of the Hampton Synagogue, Carol Levin - Co-chairman, David Pasternack - Executive Director of Israel Bonds, NY New York State Comptroller - Tom DiNapoliCo-chaired by Carol Levin and Jeff Weisenfeld, the weekend included a special talk on Shabbat by Mr. Tapoohi, who is a noted expert on the Israeli economy; a Saturday night talent show featuring Broadway entertainers and an invitational Sunday morning brunch honoring Florence and Michael Edelstein for their generous support of the Israel Bonds program. New York State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli was an enthusiastic guest of honor and said that New York State continues to invest substantially in Israel bonds because it supports the only democracy in the Middle East and is a “strong, solid investment.”

From left to right:, Jeff Weisenfeld - Co-chairman, Bobby Fisher - Member of the Hampton Synagogue, Carol Levin - Co-chairman, David Pasternack - Executive Director of Israel Bonds, NY New York State Comptroller - Tom DiNapoli




As the official airline of the 19th Maccabiah Games in Israel, EL AL is getting ready to bring thousands of athletes, families and friends on flights from all over the world to attend these historical games which are scheduled to open July 18th.  There will be 42 different sporting events under four main categories:Juniors, Open, Masters and Paralympic, with 9,000 atheletes from over 80 countries.

UPCOMING MACCABIAH GAMES IN ISRAEL EL AL ISRAEL AIRLINES NAMED OFFICIAL CARRIER“Since its establishment, EL AL activities have been consistently interlinked with special important national events taking place in Israel,” said Elyezer Shkedy, CEO of EL AL Israel Airlines. 


Olympic Gold medalist Aly Raisman will participate in the Opening Ceremony     and NBA veteran Danny Schayes will coach a USA team. Other renowned sports figures who will travel on a specially designated EL AL flight from Canada include NBA powerhouse Amar’e Stoudemire who will coach a Maccabiah Canada basketball team and NHL Coach Mike Keenan. 

“The 2013 Maccabiah is going to be the largest ever and most challenging of all Maccabiah events,” said Amir Peled, Maccabiah chair. “This is the third largest
international sports event in the world and aims to make all participants supporters of Israel. The contribution of the event to Israel’s economy and tourism as well as the link between Israel and the Diaspora is tremendous.”

For more information about the Maccabiah games in Israel, visit

For more information about EL AL, visit, or call EL AL at (800) 223-6700.

Photo Credit: Maccabiah USA

Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem Holds Large Scale Earthquake Drill

Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem, in collaboration with the IDF Homefront Command, the Israeli Police and Magen David Adom, participated in a large-scale simulation drill of a major earthquake centered in the Dead Sea Valley, approximately 40 miles from the hospital.  The drill, held on June 20, was supervised by Dr. Ofer Merin, Deputy Director General of Shaare Zedek and Director of the hospital’s Emergency Preparedness Program.

A triage field hospital was set up on the grounds of Shaare Zedek Medical Center during the earthquake simulation drill held recently..Jerusalem sits on a key fault line and historically the city experiences an earthquake once every 100 years.  Over the past 100 years, Jerusalem has undergone massive urbanization and much of this construction, does not conform to basic codes to withstand tremors.  Accordingly, the IDF’s Homefront Command estimates that a major earthquake of between 6 and 7 on the Richter Scale could result in over 7,000 dead and tens of thousands of others injured in the immediate Jerusalem area. Over 170,000 people could need to be evacuated from their homes as a result of a quake.

In the event of a catastrophe it is essential that the city’s key hospitals and their personnel can continue to operate at peak efficiency.  Shaare Zedek’s location, tucked into the face of a mountain, is believed to make it better protected in the event of a major tremor.

The drill tested the hospital staff’s ability to quickly and effectively evacuate medical departments and set up a triage field hospital on the medical center campus.  Prior to the drill, more than 2,300 Shaare Zedek personnel underwent training to familiarize them with the relevant protocols for earthquake disaster response.  

Following the simulation, Dr. Merin reported, “Members of the Ministry of Health and the IDF Homefront Command who came to evaluate the performance of the hospital in this drill praised Shaare Zedek, saying that we had established a new, higher standard for preparedness for emergency situations. I feel confident that after all of the efforts that have been invested in preparing for this drill, the Shaare Zedek Medical Center is more prepared for any emergency situation.” 

American Committee for Shaare Zedek Medical Center (ACSZ) raises funds to support the work of Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem.  For 111 years, the hospital has played an essential role in the life of the city and its uniquely diverse population, providing an exceptional blend of advanced medicine, modern innovation and compassion to all who enter its doors.


Rambam Hospital Awarded $5 Million Grant from the Helmsley Charitable Trust

(New York, NY) – Rambam Hospital in Haifa, Israel, has received a $5 million grant from The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust in order to purchase the necessary medical equipment for its new fortified underground emergency hospital.

The Sammy Ofer Fortified Underground Emergency Hospital is a three-story, 60,000 square meter facility, which is fully fortified against both conventional and unconventional warfare. As the largest hospital of its kind in the world, it can convert from a 1,500-vehicle parking lot into a 2,000-bed emergency hospital within just 72 hours of war being declared. The grant will go towards buying equipment for the hospital, thereby contributing enormously to preparing it for use.

“The initiative for a fortified hospital came about following the Second Lebanon War six years ago,” states Professor Rafi Beyar, Director and CEO of Rambam Health Care Campus. During the course of the war, 45 missiles fell in close proximity to Rambam, and although no one was hurt, it triggered off the thinking among hospital executives that action needed to be taken. “We realized that we couldn’t rely on miracles anymore,” continues Beyar. “We had to prepare for any future threat by having a safe area where patients could be moved to and where staff could function.”

Six years later, the building of the new fortified hospital is almost complete and once all the relevant equipment has been bought, the hospital will be fully functional.

“We are extremely thankful to the Helmsley Charitable Trust for granting us this donation, which we will use in order to procure vital equipment for the hospital,” remarks Beyar. “Unfortunately, the threat of war has grown increasingly strong over recent years. As the main referral hospital for over two million people in the North of Israel, Rambam Hospital is determined to have the capabilities of providing acute and chronic hospital care under fire to all those who need it.”

“As security and health care preparedness are core objectives of our program in Israel, we are pleased to support Rambam in equipping this vitally important new facility,” said Sandor Frankel, a trustee of the Helmsley Charitable Trust.

About The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust:

The Helmsley Charitable Trust aspires to improve lives by supporting effective nonprofits in a variety of selected program areas. Since 2008, when the Trust began its active grantmaking, it has committed more than $800 million to a wide range of charitable organizations.  The Trust’s grantmaking program in Israel supports leading institutions and initiatives that seek to strengthen the nation’s leadership in scientific, technological and medical research, its health care preparedness, and its standing in the world.  For more information on the Trust and its programs, please visit

About Rambam Hospital:

Rambam Health Care Campus is the largest medical center in Northern Israel, serving more than two million residents. Recognized worldwide as a center of excellence in all medical specialties, its global prominence in trauma and emergency medicine is a direct result of its prodigious experience providing medical treatment to injured civilians and soldiers.