Photo Credit: Courtesy of United Hatzalah of Israel
United Hatzalah of Israel founder Eli Beer

The public is being asked to urgently pray for Eliezer Yehuda ben Chaya, the founder & president of United Hatzalah, who has been placed on a respirator after contracting COVID-19.

The founder of United Hatzalah of Israel and President of the US-based organization Friends of United Hatzalah Eli Beer contracted pneumonia following a coronavirus infection while visiting the US. He is hospitalized with pneumonia and acute respiratory failure at University Hospital in Miami, Florida. He apparently contracted the virus during Purim services in a Miami synagogue.

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Mark Gerson, chairman of United Hatzalah of Israel, issued a statement saying, “I am writing with an unfortunate update. Eli Beer, who was scheduled to return to Israel, stayed in the United States to raise money to provide for the significantly increased demand for Hatzalah’s services in Israel during this crisis. He attended a Purim event in Miami, where many people became stricken with Covid-19.

“Eli is now in a hospital in Miami, with a presumptive diagnosis of Covid-19 himself. He is now feeling ill with a fever, shortness of breath and general weakness. His vital signs are fine.

“He is receiving truly outstanding treatment at the hospital — which is amplified by the care (medical and otherwise), leadership, and comprehensive concern being exercised by the United Hatzalah community in Miami. It might be a cliche to say that an organization is like a family — but the United Hatzalah community in Miami has shown how this cliche can be completely true.

“In the meantime, please do not call Eli this week. He will inevitably try to engage — even when doing so may be painful, and he needs to rest under the care of the outstanding team that is looking out for him. B’H, Eli will be able to fully connect next week.

“In the meantime, we’ll provide updates commensurate with developments.”

Beer sent a short message to the 6,000 volunteers of United Hatzalah of Israel, saying: “About a week ago, in the midst of a campaign for the organization in Miami, Florida, I arrived at the synagogue to hear the Megillah of Esther and continued on my way.

“Three days later, I began to feel that I had a fever – and immediately went into isolation.

“The other night, I woke up at 2 AM with an acute shortness of breath and after consulting with a senior doctor, he immediately sent me to the University of Miami hospital.

“After extensive examinations and chest radiographs I found that I had acute pneumonia, and due to this condition there was also a suspicion of corona and I was immediately admitted to the ICU.

“I receive a very dedicated treatment at one of the best hospitals in the US and await the official results, but unfortunately I am aware that I probably contracted the coronavirus.

“At the moment I still have a fever that goes down with medication, still with shortness of breath, but, thank God, my benchmarks are good.

“I am strong because I know I have an amazing family that loves me. We have a huge family in United Hatzalah and I know how much they need me to be healthy. And I have amazing friends in Israel and around the world who pray for me and are worried about me.

I personally call on every one of our 6,000 dear volunteers and employees in Israel, please, watch out for the special instructions you received from the organization regarding the proper behavior on these harrowing days.

“I Love and thank you all for your love and prayers.

“Eli Beer (Eliezer Yehuda Ben Haya).”

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