“Ambucycles” looking like something Batman might ride routinely race to the scene of medical emergencies across Israel, helping more than 6,000 United Hatzalah volunteers of all religious affiliations attend to the sick or wounded.
Founded in 2006 by Eli Beer, now the organization’s president, United Hatzalah provides emergency medical services 24 hours day. Thanks to the ambucycles, which cost $36,000 each, average response time is less than three minutes across the country and 90 seconds in metropolitan areas, according to United Hatzalah, which is considered the largest independent, nonprofit, fully volunteer emergency medical service organization in the world. Its mission is to arrive at emergencies as fast as possible and provide people with medical care until an ambulance arrives — and, in doing so, save many more lives.
Five Towners David and Tammy Friedman, of Woodsburgh, and Iris and Shalom Maidenbaum, of Lawrence, have been appointed to the organization’s international board of directors. David Friedman, the US ambassador to Israel in the Trump administration, has rejoined the board after stepping down when he was appointed an envoy in 2017. Before that, he and his wife were supporters of United Hatzalah for roughly a decade.
“Tammy has been a longtime supporter of the organization and will be joining the board for the first time,” Beer said, adding of David, “We are proud to have him back.”
The Maidenbaums — yes, those Maidenbaums, of the Cedarhurst-based tax grievance firm — are familiar with United Hatzalah from their frequent visits to Israel. Shalom said that he and Iris have supported the organization for several years, and have donated money to buy three ambucycles, including one dedicated to Iris’s father, Bernard Lanner, who died more than 25 years ago in a motor vehicle accident.
“I met Eli [Beer] in the lobby of the King David Hotel,” Shalom recalled. “He’s very friendly, which makes him a natural fundraiser, and he’s sincere. Eli has managed Arab, Christians, Jewish and Muslim volunteers, uniting Israelis of every type. He crosses the political divide, the religious divide, and I’m very proud to attach myself to United Hatzalah.”
The Friedmans have given generously to many Jewish causes. During a Jan. 18 visit to United Hatzalah headquarters in Jerusalem the couple were honored with plaques noting David’s role in helping to bring peace to the Middle East through the Abraham Accords, and Tammy’s support.
“We are deeply touched,” David said in a video documenting the visit, adding that it was their farewell week, as he was leaving the ambassador’s position. “And nothing better symbolizes the people of Israel than United Hatzalah. What you do is keep people healthy and keep people united. And that’s what you’ve done, is unite the entire state of Israel.”
Friedman is credited for playing a significant role in the relocation of the US Embassy to Jerusalem, and for the US recognition of Israeli sovereignty in the Golan Heights.
He was awarded the National Security Medal and nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for his work on the Abraham Accords, a joint statement among Israel, the United Arab Emirates and the United States — which subsequently included Bahrain — to normalize relations between the Jewish state and the Arab nations.
Beer noted that the Maidenbaums have also been involved in Jewish and Zionist causes for many years.
“Their inspiration and activism is truly remarkable,” he said in his news release. “Their passion for saving lives will be a welcome addition to our board.”
Last year, Shalom Maidenbaum was appointed to the board of the United States-Israel Educational Foundation, having been endorsed by Friedman.
“We’re really in a place where we can do things and how important is the message to give,” Maidenbaum said. “We want to inspire the next generation and bring people together in a common cause. We want to encourage people to start supporting United Hatzalah. If you saved a life, you saved an entire world.”