The ambulance being sent to Israel by the Winnipeg CMDA is the same type as the one pictured here. (photo from CMDA)
With the recent violence and tensions in Israel, Magen David Adom (MDA) is, once again, being pushed to its limits – working in a state of high alert and keeping most of its equipment in service 24 hours a day. And though tensions are high in Jewish communities outside of Israel, as well, the recent Operation Protective Edge seems to be bringing out the best in people, including additional financial support for Israel.
One such Canadian example is in Winnipeg, where people are pouring their energy into helping to send ambulances and medical equipment to Israel via Canadian Magen David Adom (CMDA). Winnipeg’s local CMDA chapter sent an ambulance to Kiryat Shmona last year. Now, it is sending its second ambulance to Israel, which will be stationed in the south.
While most of the support has come from the local Jewish community, there is growing support from Manitoba’s Christian community, who are eager to show their support for the Jewish state.
One of the leading figures in that group is Pastor John Plantz, who has been leading tours to Israel every year via his Beauty Field Tours to Israel. Plantz said he was looking for a tangible way to help Israel aside from visiting the country with his tours. He was first introduced to CMDA through materials he came across at a local Jewish community centre and, later, around 2009, through a meeting with CMDA Winnipeg member Ami Bakerman. Plantz invited Bakerman to set up a CMDA table at a local Bible conference he organizes each year.
Looking for even more ways to support Israel, Plantz recently purchased a grove of 1,000 trees, along with Beauty Field Tours group-mates John and Janice Thiessen, through the Jewish National Fund. The grove will be planted in the Yatir Forest.
“My joining the Winnipeg CMDA chapter came through an invitation from Ami [Bakerman],” said Plantz. “I was very excited about the opportunity to help this organization get ambulances for the state of Israel and to be able to help get practical resources to people in a time of need in a country that I’ve truly come to love.”
Some 25 years ago, Plantz discovered that his grandfather was Jewish. Since then, he said, “I decided to support, in practical ways, the Jewish community here, in Winnipeg, and also the state of Israel.”
Plantz sees it as “a privilege” to introduce many more Christians to CMDA at the many events he attends by handing out CMDA tzedakah boxes and other CMDA materials. Also, Plantz said, “By informing people of the need[s] in the state of Israel, it gives them the opportunity to give and help.
“I was so pleased to hear when CMDA had sent their first ambulance to Israel just over a year ago, as I was a part of that through our Bible conference, along with many others from that event.
“And now to think that another ambulance will be sent this month brings great joy to my heart and it should be celebrated by all who’ve had a part. I’d like to give the glory to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob for putting it into the hearts of many to respond.”
He added, “I believe that the time to help is now, for the need is great in Israel and lives are at stake. Let’s get involved today.”
Another local CMDA chapter member is Laurelle Harris, a lawyer and a director of Levene Tadman Golub Law Corp.
“I’m thrilled to have been able to play a very small role in the chapter having been able to send two ambulances so far,” said Harris. “To be able to contribute to the safety and well-being of people in Israel is amazing.”
Harris joined the Winnipeg chapter of CMDA about two years ago. “The ability for MDA to provide emergency services is essential to the well-being of all those living in or visiting Israel,” she said.
“At the time, I didn’t know how long it would take to be in a position to send one ambulance. Actually sending two makes me believe that we’re on a roll and can achieve our goals in the future.
“To be able to send a second ambulance – an intensive care unit (MICA), no less – during the current conflict with Hamas makes me feel that Winnipeggers have done something tangible to make a difference right now,” she added. “Winnipeggers have, quite literally, helped MDA save lives in real time.”
According to Harris, the Winnipeg chapter’s ability to send more ambulances depends on the continued financial support of the general community in Winnipeg and throughout the province, as well as adding more volunteers with diverse skill sets and backgrounds.
“During this particularly difficult time for Israel, as she remains under attack, there are a number of ways that people can help,” said Harris. “But, most importantly, is to give to any cause that will have a direct impact on service provisions. CMDA is one such organization that will not just be of benefit in the immediate, but will also have a lasting impact in times to come. When this crisis is over, gifts given now will continue to have a lasting impact for years into the future.”
For more information or to donate to the Winnipeg chapter ambulance drive, email Winnipeg chapter treasurer Bakerman, [email protected]. You can also donate online at cmdai.org or by calling 1-800-731-2848. CMDA is a registered charity and all donations receive a tax receipt.
Rebeca Kuropatwa is a Winnipeg freelance writer.