Saving lives for 88 years – it’s time to salute MDA

It was such a delight to see the collected 70 facts about Israel on the State’s 70th birthday in the last edition of ESRAmagazine #194. Yet, there is another amazing fact about the State of Israel which deserves fulsome mention and that is Magen David Adom.

As I write, today (June 7, 2018), marks the 88th anniversary of the formation of the founding charter of MDA in Tel Aviv in 1930. Shortly after the War of Independence in 1950, the Knesset passed the MDA Law which recognized the organization as Israel’s national emergency medical service, the nation’s blood service and its Red Cross organization, training for disaster preparedness.

“It differs from other Red Cross volunteer based societies in the world in that they do not constitute their national ambulance response services for medical emergencies," explained Yoni Yogadovsky, Director of MDA’s international fundraising department. “The Red Cross in other countries mainly responds to disasters, whether natural or man-made. Other countries’ national ambulance services are not based on volunteers, but are either national organizations or private companies with employees," he said.

What is astounding is that MDA has trained more than 20,000 current volunteers representing a ratio of 10:1 of its operatives. Many are teenagers, who are still at school or people, who are involved in full-time jobs but who can drop everything to participate in MDA’s life-saving, emergency work.  Volunteers are all paramedical trained to deal with medical emergencies and respond 24 hours a day.

In addition, the organization has trained more than 120,000 Israelis in disaster preparedness.

MDA also works internationally as a full member, since 2006, of the International Red Cross Committee (IRCC) and, recently, one of their senior paramedics flew out to assist the Guatemalan Red Cross with the volcanic disaster in Guatemala. Prior to 2006 MDA had observer status in IRCC. It operates internationally with the nationally familiar symbol of a red Magen David inside a diamond shape known as the Crystal which is used by those countries which do not use the symbol of the red cross or crescent.

I have a particular affinity for MDA as my husband Sidney and I responded to the 2000 intifada by raising funds for the organization in Manchester, UK, after enquiring what was most needed in Israel. Starting with our own synagogue, Hale and District Hebrew Congregation, and with the support of its rabbi, Joel Portnoy, we managed to purchase an armoured ambulance for the Jerusalem district where the worst violence was taking place.

We expanded, with my husband as co-chairman and I as vice-chairman, to form a Manchester committee and were put together with Zionist stalwart, the late Norman Feingold, as president, to run this committee. Our first major event was a dinner which raised £250,000 under the motto of “Saving Lives.” It was held at the Imperial War Museum North and Britain’s ambassador to Israel, (now Sir) Sherard Cowper-Coles agreed to be guest speaker.

Suzie and the late Ronnie Cohen, a former IDF soldier, were active members of this committee and others joined forces including current chairman, Jeremy Hart and his wife Sharon.

We all know how much we rely on MDA to be there at any given moment in all circumstances and can be proud that it treats all, irrespective of ethnicity or creed.

Lucille Cohen, Zichron Yaakov

We reunite au pair with the children she cared for

The Kohn family, Hanna and Paul,
with their four young children and the au-pair, Karen, in London

I read the article in ESRAmagazine re Mr Paul Kohn. When Paul and Hanna Kohn lived in London I was their nanny for their children Danny, Leli, Rafi and Galia.  I realize Paul and Hanna have sadly passed away but I would love to get in touch with the children to see how they are.  I do hope that you can help as it would be lovely to speak to them all again.
Karen Griffin (Mrs), Nottingham, England

We were very excited to get your mail, Merle, and the following day we gathered together on a conference call with Karen - myself, Dandan, Rafi, and Galia.

We had a wonderful chat with Karen who brought up memories from our late parents Paul and Hanna.

Thank you very much for connecting us.

Leli Goldway (nee Kohn)

Achievement missing from list celebrating Israel’s 70th

I would like to bring to your attention the fact that you missed another significant achievement in Paralympic sport.  Moran Samuel won the Bronze medal for female single rowing in the 2016 Rio Paralympics. It was thrilling to cheer her on 

the podium, watching the Israeli Flag flying alongside Great Britain and  China.

Moran trains at the Daniel Rowing Centre ​( which I founded in memory of my son Daniel who was a potential Olympic athlete. Daniel was killed in a car crash in 1993, during his service in the Israeli Air Force.​

The Centre is the home of the national Olympic & Paralympic teams, and has helped to enhance the global reputation of Israel - one of our  Olympic athletes is ranked 11th in the world and was invited to compete at the prestigious Henley Regatta in the UK. 

The Centre is a leader in nautical studies, providing classes for schoolchildren and after-school activities such as rowing, sailing, coastal rowing and kayaking classes. There are numerous pioneering programs serving underprivileged communities, youth at risk, people with disabilities and those with special needs. We have summer camps as well - the whole community is welcome.  The Friends of Daniel for Rowing Association (, which supports the Centre, believes in Excellence, Teamwork and Inclusion - let's row together for Israel's future!

Linda Streit

Linda Streit is recipient of the 2018 Nefesh B'Nefesh Sylvan Adams Bonei Zion prize in the Culture, Sports and Arts Category​.

. . . and two of those we wrote about were identical – it’s a fact!

I felt so proud to read the above-mentioned article in the May/June edition of the ESRAmagazine. I immediately looked on Google, found the article and sent it to family in London, the US, Canada and South Africa. They all replied that it was amazing although my son in London claimed that there were only 69 facts; numbers 33 and 55 are identical. Therefore, I would be happy if you would include one additional amazing fact in the next edition of the ESRAmagazine. I don’t think it will be difficult to find!

Thank you

Joyce Epstein, Raanana

Extra travel policies ‘a waste of money’

Naomi Ariel raised a question in the last issue regarding an article on travel insurance by Mark Joffe which appeared in ESRAmagazine #193. Mark’s answer is:  The credit card companies that still offer free travel insurance coverage are limited to maximum amounts per day in the event of hospitalization.  Level of coverage differs from credit card company to company. In most cases they will tell you that this is insufficient and try and sell you an additional personal accident policy over the phone. These are in most cases a waste of money and a lot of people fall for this trick.  Personal accident policies are ongoing policies that run until 85 years old and not just for the period of travel.

I’m hoping the ‘book of Ruth’ will inspire me

Out of print: Ruth Abraham has now bought the rights to her book and says she hopes to republish it very soon

I was so, so happy to open your ESRAMagazine to find mention of a book by Ruth Abrahams “When Words Have Lost their Meaning”.

I, rather impulsively, began trying art work, on a very small scale, with a friend I once studied with. She was getting no physical or occupational therapy at all.

With limited time and space, we had some exciting moments of recognition and laughter, but I had been unable to find any guidance in this field, just shrugs.

I have, of course, sent off for your book, and hope to gain much inspiration from it.

Thank you,

Valerie Chernett

Hello Valerie, thank you for taking the interest in my book “When Words Have Lost their Meaning”. Unfortunately the book is no longer available.  My husband and I have now bought the rights and will be publishing it within a few months.  Let me know if by some miracle the book arrives from Greenwood. I am so glad you have taken an interest in it.  IF you want to call me with a specific question I will be happy to try and help.   You can also go to my website 

Ruth Abraham, Herzliya

Hold the front page, back page and all the others: I just love your publication

Dear wonderful Editor, Staff, and Lots of People who manage to breath-take with every ESRAmagazine I get,

After a long time of magically having had an ESRAmagazine appear on my door step, every time an issue sees light, it dawned on me that I am considered a member of this unique group of people! I actually realized at long last that I was eating lechem chesed.

Because I have an aversion for magazines (they tend to sit, eyeing me, with the expression on their face “Nuuuuuuuuuuuu? When are you going to read me”?), why would I actually order any magazine?

Of course, because I could not possibly tell the magazine, that literally fell into my lap, how I felt about magazines, I peeped a little, read a little, and before I knew it, I had devoured every article and advert printed in the magazine and WONDERED at so much talent non-stop in ONE MAGAZINE!

And as time went on, I found out where the magazines were landing from but still tried to avoid that accusing glance…about reading it.

So here I am sending 280 shekels – and you can send me the bill for what I owe and thank you for including me in your subscribers, not a member because:

1. I am still toooo young

2. I am very hyperactive, I spend a lot of time looking for where I have disappeared to or doing hundreds of chores which probably were unnecessary and no one needed them done

Yishar co’ach – you are amazing interesting fantastic beings.

Lynn Gamady, Rosh Haayin

Magazine ‘is the life force that connects all of ESRA’

   Mike and Adele Rubin at the Volunteer Award event

Mike and I want to thank ESRA for recognizing our contribution at a wonderful volunteer award event in Raanana with award winners from Nahariya to Eilat, which made me realize that it is the ESRAmagazine that connects us. That's what enabled us to work for ESRA and our communities.

The magazine provided us with information about the ESRA activities and about the people who make ESRA what it is and the office staff who are so helpful. When we moved to Sderot with very few English speakers, ESRAmagazine published my experiences in the periphery, which led to ESRA projects here.

Congratulations to the magazine and all who work so hard to produce and distribute it and especially the Editor and Founder of ESRA, our friend Merle Guttmann.

Adele Rubin, Sderot

Joking apart, these gags are in bad taste

ESRA Magazine is such a good publication with the rich offerings it gives. I am always pleasantly surprised that each edition is better than the one before. However, I do feel it is ill served by the section “A bit of humor” that appears in each edition.

My complaint is not about if the joke is funny as I understand that humor is a very personalized taste and what to some is very funny, others cannot see the funny side.

Rather I am disturbed by the nature of the material that really is only suitable for adults and not for a family magazine. 

ESRA mag has a very wide circulation. I use it for example to help students with English. 

I found the joke, The Grammar teaching, embarrassing and smutty. 

I would request that in future magazines if you have to have jokes (which I really do not think are needed) you are more selective in the choice of material you use. 

Stanley Canning, Kibbutz Kfar Maccabia

I was shocked and disappointed to read in “A Bit of Humor” (ESRAMag No 193), a contribution in which a grandfather took his grandchildren to a restaurant. When the six-year old thanked God for the food they would eat, he added that he would thank Him even more if “Grandpa should also get us an ice-cream for dessert.” On over-hearing this, a woman at the next table made some derogatory remarks which upset the boy.  However, when his ice-cream arrived, the child took it to the next table, gave it to the woman and called her “a grouchy old bag – shove it down your throat and choke.”

I fully realize that this is meant to be a joke, but it's a bad one and it certainly didn't make me laugh. It made me sad. It is definitely not humorous – not even remotely funny and in my opinion, in bad taste.

The “A Bit of Humor” page should be just that, as its title suggests.

Cynthia Shapiro, Protea Village 

Humor Page writer Jennia Ganit Chodorov replies: Thank you for writing and expressing your appreciation for the quality of ESRAmagazine, as well as the serious evaluation of the Humor page, which you seem to find unnecessary.

Just as not every article is of interest to each reader, who then chooses which articles or features to read, the same would apply here.
Happily, many readers have informed me it is the first column they look for upon receipt of the magazine... to them humor is considered the spice of life. Perhaps not all spices please our palate equally.




















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