United Hatzalah of Israel hosted its fourth annual Miami fundraising benefit event on Dec. 19, honoring the Angels in Orange at the Diplomat Beach Resort in Hollywood, Fla. The event, dubbed “An Evening of Unity for Israel,” succeeded in raising $18 million for the organization’s lifesaving work in Israel. More than 1,500 people attended the event, which honored Dr. Lynn and Paul Leight for their humanitarian support of the organization. The Leights were awarded the “Humanitarian Award” in recognition of their contributions to saving lives in Israel.
The evening was hosted by event chairs Amy and Bruce Gelb, with special guest speaker Dr. Miriam Adelson. The title sponsor of the event was Greenberg Traurig Law, with lead sponsor 3i.
“Who would bring an ambulance, ambucycle, or helicopter to save strangers? The answer is in the first word of the organization’s name Ichud, United,” remarked Dr. Miriam Adelson when speaking about the work of United Hatzalah. “We see it every day in the amazing unity of volunteers, Jews, Druze, Christians, and Muslims, men and women, secular and religious, coming together for the supreme cause of preserving human life.”
The event brought out some of the biggest names in Israeli entertainment. Idan Raichel was the main performer at the gala dinner, with a surprise guest performance by Matisyahu. The Young Leadership After Party included a special performance by Israeli pop star Noa Kirel, who wowed the participants with a vibrant musical set. DJ Edry and special guest Montana Tucker kept the party going until the early hours of the morning. The Young Leadership event gathered more than 300 of South Florida’s top young Jewish philanthropists.
“It is such an honor to take part in this incredible evening of unity with United Hatzalah of Israel—they’re doing and continue to do important work during these hard times,” said Noa Kirel after the event concluded. “Even during our darkest days, we are able to come together and be strong—because we will dance again.”
President and founder of United Hatzalah, Eli Beer, spoke about the importance of holding this event now, even amid the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas. “This year, the benefit event in Miami is especially important. The support of the Miami community for our mission has been exceptional; it was one of the key factors in how United Hatzalah was able to respond and save as many lives as possible in Israel on Oct. 7. The bond between Florida and Israel is stronger than ever, and I want to thank everyone who came out to support us tonight.”
The evening also honored United Hatzalah volunteer EMT Shalom Avitan, a selfless hero who was one of the first responders to the atrocities at Kibbutz Kfar Aza on Oct. 7. While at the ravaged kibbutz, Shalom was handed twin babies found crying and starving, and hidden in a shelter. Their parents had been murdered by Hamas. Shalom took care of the babies until they could be given over to social services and reunited with their remaining family, becoming a symbol of hope in Israel during its darkest hour.
United Hatzalah International Committee chairman and board members Rabbi Erica and Mark Gerson shared their excitement about the event, saying: “Now more than ever, it is important to come together and support such an incredible cause, one that does as much for Israel as United Hatzalah.”
The money raised at the event will go towards continuing to purchase much-needed medical supplies and emergency vehicles, as well as enabling the training of thousands of new volunteers.
United Hatzalah is the world’s largest fully volunteer EMS organization, with always free medical care and an average 90-second response time. This level of quick response times is enabled by the organization’s country-wide network of volunteers, its state-of-the-art dispatch and command system, and its fleet of nimble emergency vehicles.
Beer announced a $5 million match by the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, with $1.5 million going to the United Hatzalah Leight L’Dor V’Dor Initiative to get the next generations involved, as well as $3.5 million by the IFCJ for additional emergency initiatives in Israel. On Oct. 7 and the days following, United Hatzalah treated more than 3,600 civilians and soldiers and provided more than 1,450 affected soldiers and civilians with psychological first aid via its psychotrauma and crisis response unit.