Donors gift 13 MDA ambulances for 13 Israeli medics killed

Donation by Leon and Toby Cooperman will help Magen David Adom meet increased needs for rescue vehicles as the country faces rocket and terror attacks.

Leon and Toby Cooperman. Credit: Courtesy of Magen David Adom.
Leon and Toby Cooperman. Credit: Courtesy of Magen David Adom.

Leon Cooperman and his wife, Toby, have pledged to donate nearly $1.5 million to Magen David Adom, Israel’s emergency services system, to add 13 life-support ambulances to MDA’s fleet.

Each ambulance will be dedicated in memory of a Magen David Adom EMT or paramedic killed during the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks or in the months of violence since.

The Coopermans made the pledge while they were attending the American Friends of Magen David Adom’s Boca-Delray community event in Florida on March 7. They were deeply moved by a video presentation about Amit Man, a 22-year-old paramedic killed on Oct. 7 by Hamas terrorists while trying to save lives at the clinic in Kibbutz Be’eri on the Gaza border. Man, who was still wearing her examination gloves when she was executed by Hamas terrorists, left a chilling voice message for her family as gunmen entered the clinic and began killing patients and medical providers.

Long known as one of the most prominent players on Wall Street, Cooperman was born in 1943 and grew up in the South Bronx, the son of Polish Jewish immigrants. After graduating from Columbia Business School, he worked for Goldman, Sachs & Co. for 22 years before going on to found and lead Goldman’s famed asset management business. In 1991, he set up his own successful hedge fund, Omega Advisors, where he managed investor capital for 27 years before pivoting to focus on family investments.

Committed philanthropists, the Coopermans have donated hundreds of millions of dollars to, among others, hospitals and medical centers, schools and universities, and academic scholarships for needy youth.  They are signatories to both the Giving Pledge, a campaign founded by Bill Gates and Warren Buffet encouraging wealthy individuals to give at least half of their fortunes to charity generally, and the Jewish Future Promise, a campaign sponsored by Mike Leven under which the Coopermans have pledged to give at least half of their wealth to Jewish causes.  

Proud Jews and supporters of Israel, the Coopermans have long contributed to Jewish causes, both in Israel and in the United States, including Magen David Adom, most recently donating $100,000 as part of a matching-gifts campaign initiated by Mike Bloomberg which raised $88 million for the organization.

While attending the annual Boca event, Cooperman said he was struck by the 13 empty chairs draped with MDA uniforms that were intentionally left empty to memorialize some of the medics killed while saving lives during recent Hamas attacks and in the current war. Each of the 13 ambulances sponsored by the Coopermans will have an inscription memorializing a specific fallen medic. More rescue vehicles are still needed to meet the constant barrage of missiles currently hitting Israel, mostly now from the north, and to respond to a marked uptick in terror attacks.

“I am profoundly touched by Lee and Toby’s decision to make this meaningful gift to Magen David Adom at this time,” said Catherine L. Reed, CEO of American Friends of Magen David Adom. “These 13 ambulances will help many EMTs provide critical care for all who need it in Israel, including those injured by frequent attacks. The fact that these vehicles will also serve as a memorial to some of our fallen heroes makes this especially important to our more than 33,000 volunteers. I know that with this gift, they will feel loved, appreciated, and valued for their lifesaving work. For that and more, we are deeply grateful to the Coopermans.”

“I have always believed in the principle of tikkun olam—that those who have the resources have an obligation to help others and to better the world,” Cooperman said. “When Toby and I saw the presentation at the Boca event about the dedicated MDA medics who continued to treat the injured even though they knew their own lives were at risk, we felt that this was the time to support these efforts and encourage their bravery.”

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In the United States, disaster relief, ambulance and blood services are handled by an array of organizations. In Israel, there’s one organization that does it all: Magen David Adom. Although MDA’s role is mandated by the Israeli government, it’s not a government agency. As Israel’s official representative to the International Red Cross, MDA’s role precludes it from accepting governmental support for its general operations. Because of this arrangement, the agency relies on support from donors, including those from the United States, to keep its dispatch systems, training and equipment the best in the world.
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