Bal Harbour couple donates ambulance to Israel
A Bal Harbour couple celebrated their sixth wedding anniversary last weekend. On a day where most receive gifts from family and friends, they donated a major one to Israel.
Judy and Monroe Milstein covered the cost of an ambulance that will be sent to Israel through the American Friends of Magen David Adom, Israel’s government-mandated emergency medical response service.
Judy said it was something they wanted to do for a long time.
”God has been so good to us,” she said. “It’s a way of giving back in honor of our anniversary.”
On June 14, about 100 people got together at The Shul of Bal Harbour to dedicate the $125,000 ambulance to Israel. The event kicked off with a ribbon-cutting ceremony, where the Milsteins, hand-in-hand, cut the ribbon surrounding the ambulance. Meanwhile, their guests dined on kosher treats while listening to traditional Jewish music.
Among those who attended the event was Bal Harbour Mayor Jean Rosenfield, who honored the couple’s contribution by making June 14 Judy and Monroe Milstein Day in the village.
Also sharing in the festivities was Consul General Ofer Bavly, who said the Milstein’s generous gift will play a vital role in saving lives in Israel, which faces mass casualties and terrorist attacks on a daily basis.
”It is true giving when you don’t even know the identity of those who you are helping,” he said. “It is going to save hundreds, if not thousands, of lives.”
The ambulance, a mobile intensive care unit, is the most sophisticated emergency vehicle in the world, said Ira Mogitz, AFMDA director of development. It will don the Milstein’s name on its doors.
The vehicle, which looks like a bigger ambulance, carries equipment such as heart defibrillators and cardio monitoring systems and will house a full medical staff, including a doctor. It is equipped to handle heart attacks, the severely injured and even births.
Mogitz said the ambulance, which will travel by ship, will reach Israel within the next month.
Founded in 1940, AFMDA, previously known as the American Red Magen David for Israel, is the sole fundraising organization in the United States for MDA, which stands for the Red Shield of David. The organization provides Israel with pre-hospital medical emergency needs and blood bank services.
MDA has more than 100 Emergency Medical Stations and 11 dispatch stations throughout Israel with a fleet of 700 ambulances. In addition, MDA provides 100 percent of the blood requirements of the Israel Defense Forces, and 95 percent of the blood needs of Israeli hospitals and the general population.
AFMDA has raised more than $100 million in the last four years toward MDA efforts.
Lea Speyer, 20, who was at the event, has first-hand experience with MDA’s services. While she was living in Israel not long ago, they came to her rescue when she suffered a case of food poisoning. She called the ambulance a “hospital on wheels.”
Rabbi Sholom Lipskar said the ambulance was much more than a life-saver. He said it sends a positive message to Israel.
”It not only saves lives,” he said. “When they [Israelis] receive a gift like this from America, it gives them stamina. It shows them they are not alone, and that we are family.”
For information on the American Friends of Magen David Adom or to make a donation, call 800-626-0046, or go to www.afmda.org.