A group of Baltimore philanthropists who raised money to provide bulletproof vests to front-line medics in Israel recently returned from a visit during which they presented these vests to medics in Judea and Samaria.
Irwin Azman, a driving force behind the fundraising effort, explained that the vests they distributed to medics were not those they originally expected to deliver. “We had been told that the new vests might not be ready for distribution; they weren’t sure they would be ready in time,” he said. “These vests are so much more lightweight and versatile. People are more inclined to wear them.”
Eli Burman, who also went on the trip, added that “these modified ballistic vests are designed specifically for medics. Medics have to be very mobile, getting into and out of the ambulance and caring for the wounded, so these special medic-modified vests are much lighter. The bulletproof plates are much thinner and are designed to accommodate mobility to allow these medics to respond as quickly as possible in a situation where every second matters.”
The fundraising effort, done in collaboration with the One Israel Fund, was a great success, due in part to an anonymous donor who matched the funds that Azman and Burman raised.
“For me, it is one thing to cut a check and another to deliver it and realize in person that the people you are giving to are ready to give their lives for other Jews,” said Gary Applebaum, president of the Baltimore FIDF Chapter and another donor who attended the dedicating ceremonies in Israel. “Tzedakah is good, and Israel accepts it. But when you come to a place that is considered dangerous and illegitimate and give these vests to them firsthand — knowing that they can go in with confidence, there were tears. It was a uniquely Jewish experience and very moving.”
“Unfortunately, it is not much time before the vests are put to use,” said Burman. “But you know that you have been saving lives. It is not a theoretical gesture. You are putting a vest on the body of someone who will test it in real time and are very suspect to terrorist acts. For them, it is a matter of life and death.”