There may be no bonfires or parades and Meiron may not look the same, but this Lag Baomer is gearing up to be a celebration of a different kind.
Communities across North America are preparing to show their gratitude to the heroes of this dark time–their local Hatzalah volunteers–with a 24-hour live-streamed concert and drive to benefit every Hatzalah in the continent. The “Hatzalah-Thon,” as it’s being billed, is slated to be a day of joy, appreciation, and giving.
Hatzalahs from Chicago to Detroit and Baltimore to Boro Park are hoping to raise much needed funds for their increased operations in these unprecedented times.
Meanwhile, the final touches are being put to a live-streamed concert starring the top talent from the Jewish music world. The concert will be streamed live on Unitedforprotection.com and will also be played live over the phone. Produced by Davidi Crombie, the all-star lineup is expected to attract half a million viewers, and that traffic will hopefully be translated into millions of dollars raised for local Hatzalahs.
The collaborative concert and fundraiser is the creation of United for Protection, a group of activists who previously united the Jewish world behind the writing of the ‘Miracle Sefer Torah.”
“This day is about three things,” Berel Junik, one of the organizers said, “ Hakaras hatov, simcha, and achdus. We are celebrating our heroic Hatzalahs, we are saying thank you, and we are showing Hashem that we are united now more than ever.”
Anticipation for the event is building within Hatzalahs and in the wider community.
Mark Weiss, coordinator of Hatzalah of Staten Island offered some perspective, “Driving on the Staten Island Expressway on 9/11, seeing the second plane hit, spending two days at ground zero, I figured nothing in our career would surpass that. This latest tragedy, I think, far exceeds that tragedy. I remember sitting Friday night on the Shabbos after Purim, after my wife had lit the candles, listening to the Hatzalah radio. One hundred fifty calls from 6:30 until 9:00 PM. I had to put the radio under the coach, I was trembling….”
“I beg everyone, I implore everyone,” Weiss continued, “We need you now more than we ever did…. My members and Hatzalah members across the country have done the ultimate mesiras nefesh, putting their lives in danger, getting sick themselves, to help save lives.”
“We are not asking you to get up at 4:00 in the morning or to leave your seder. Just please donate. The costs of all the extra equipment that our members and patients need over this time is astronomical. Please, give everything you can give.”
“We cannot let the stream of sirens and bad news define us,” Shloime Greenwald, another of the organizers said. “It’s time we inject some joy and positivity into our lives. And everyone knows Hakaras Hatov is essential to joy. This is our chance as Am Yisroel to give back to these volunteers who lay it all the line every day for our parents, grandparents, friends and neighbors.”
Zalmy Cohen, also of United for Protection, has one message for the Jewish community: “Be ready to give generously to your local Hatzalah this Lag Baomer. They need it now more than ever.”
“They were here for us. Now, let’s be there for them.”
To learn more about United for Protection and the Hatzalah-Thon campaign, go to Unitedforprotection.com/hatzalahthon
The following is a list (alphabetical order) of all participating Hatzalahs:
Baltimore, Boro Park, Catskills, Chicago, Crown Heights, Dallas, Detroit, Flatbush, Houston, Hudson County, Hatzolah Air, Jersey Shore, Kiryas Tosh, Lakewood, Los Angeles, Lower East Side, Middlesex County, Mill Basin/Canarsie, Monroe/Kiryas Yoel, Monsey, Montreal, New Square, Passaic/Clifton, Philadelphia, Queens, Riverdale, Rockaways/Nassau County, Seagate, South Florida, Staten Island, Toronto, Upper East Side, Waterbury, Washington Heights, West Side, Williamsburg.
Avraham Fried. Mordechai Shapiro. Benny Friedman. Lipa Schmeltzer. Shmueli Ungar. Chazon Meir Helfgot. Gad Elbaz. Shulem Lemmer. 8th Day Band. Baruch Levine. Eli Marcus. Uncle Moishy. Boruch Sholom Blesofsky. Mitzvah Boulevard. Freilach Orchestra. Shira Choir.