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October 20, 2014 / 26 Tishri, 5775
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Life And Death: The Story Behind United Hatzalah Of Israel


Eli Beer, founder of United Hatzalah of Israel

Eli Beer, founder of United Hatzalah of Israel

It was a typical November evening in Miami, the weather was balmy, with a pleasant breeze tinged with salty, ocean tang. My parents were relaxing with a group of close friends after a delicious meal. Fortunately, one of those friends just happened to be Eli Beer, the founder of United Hatzalah of Israel…

As the group schmoozed animatedly, my mother began to experience an unnerving, pulling sensation in her chest. It felt like terrible indigestion, but more insistent, and she quietly excused herself. Perhaps if she went to rest for a bit, the pain would simply subside, as it had on the other two occasions that she had experienced it…

However, the ache was deeper this time and seemed to radiate from her solar plexus inwards – like someone crushing a giant fist against her spine.

She groped her way to a chair, intending to go lie down in one of the guest bedrooms, but she could go no further. She collapsed into the chair, facing Eli Beer, and tried valiantly to control her rising panic. Her breathing became ragged and she had to fight to inhale properly.

Eli, ever alert, had quietly taken note of my mother’s distress. As he looked at her, his expert gaze automatically registering the seriousness of her condition, she tried to smile reassuringly, but it came out a twisted grimace.

“What’s going on?” he asked tersely.

My mother looked at him and croaked hoarsely; “Nothing, it’s just indigestion. I need to go and lie down…”

“June,” Eli said forcefully “You’re having a heart attack. Call 911!” he screamed out. “Does anyone have nitroglycerin tablets?!?”

The living room erupted in a sudden flurry of activity as a family friend scrambled to call an ambulance and someone else went in search of the medication.

B’chasdei Hashem, the elderly mother of my parents’ friend had some nitroglycerin pills with her!

Eli immediately helped my mother to a recliner and she took the lifesaving medication. Within minutes, she began to breathe more normally. A short time later, the ambulance arrived and rushed my mother to the emergency room, sirens blaring.

The next day, doctors performed an angiogram, snaking a tiny camera up her femoral artery in order to diagnose the cause of her severe angina. It turned out that she had 80% blockage of her LAD, the main artery of the heart, ominously referred to as “the widow maker.” They immediately inserted a stent to hold the severely blocked artery open and saved my mother’s life!

A few hours after the procedure, my mother returned home with a new lease on life – thanks to the fast-thinking actions of Eli Beer.

My parents have been supporters of Eli’s organization, United Hatzalah of Israel, for many years and my father considers Mr. Beer one of his dearest friends. The fact that Eli just “happened” to be in Miami that fateful day, on one of his innumerous fundraising missions, and that he just “happened” to drop in when my mother needed him most, does not surprise us at all. Saving one Jew is like saving the entire world and my father, a member of Hatzalah’s international board, has donated his time and money to this holy cause for years. That day his tzeddakah had come full circle and saved the life of his precious wife. Our gratitude to Hashem and to Eli knows no bounds.

Yesh koneh olamo b’shaa echas – There are those who acquire their portion in the next world in one moment.” I recently heard this thought expounded upon by the noted lecturer, author and mohel Rabbi Paysach Krohn. “How can one achieve his eternal reward in a single moment?” He asked. “Imagine a Hatzalah volunteer who comes to the aid of a toddler choking to death. In one swift movement, he removes the choking hazard and saves the child’s life. Imagine all of the mitzvos that will follow in the life of this precious child! All of the generations, the children and grandchildren who will follow him! Can we begin to calculate the reward of the man who saved his life?”

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