Above, Eli Beer, President and Founder of United Hatzalah, serving falafel to a customer at Harel Felafel, Tal’s shop in Bat Yam, Israel. (Photo United Hatzalah)
BAT YAM, Israel — On November 15th, United Hatzalah volunteer EMT Tal Cooperstein was on his way to a medical emergency when a woman struck his ambulance while driving her car. He was treated at the scene by before being taken to Wolfson Hospital for treatment.
Tal was seriously injured in the accident and had to undergo a series of surgeries to save his leg and relieve a tension pneumothorax in his lung. Tal is the sole breadwinner of his family and supports his wife and five children from the proceeds of a falafel shop that he owns and runs in Bat Yam.
Following the accident, United Hatzalah volunteers from around the country gathered together and began to volunteer to take shifts working at the falafel shop to make sure that Tal didn’t lose any money. Taking the matter one step further, they initiated a campaign for people to be able to buy felafel meals online and donate them to soldiers and first responders.
The fledgling shop, Felafel Harel, is only three months old. Cooperstein’s family was very worried about how the business would survive and how they would put food on the table after Tal suffered his injury. The answer came in the form of dozens of fellow United Hatzalah volunteers from all across Israel who signed up for a shift during the peak hours of the store’s operation for the next few months.
President and Founder of United Hatzalah Eli Beer also joined the cause and signed up to staff the store on Tuesday afternoon. Beer said: “We are a national network of EMS volunteers that is made up of wonderful people who not only help the ill and injured, but also one another. It is heartwarming to see how fast volunteers from all over Israel signed up to do a shift here at the store and keep it running until Tal is back on his feet. It really shows that United Hatzalah is more than just an organization, we are a family. I am proud of every single one of these volunteers.”
Beer then added: “We are inviting the general public to help as well and have opened an online option to buy falafels and donate them to soldiers and first responders. What really amazed me was that after just two hours someone clicked on the link and purchased 1,000 portions to be donated to soldiers.”
The International Chairman of United Hatzlah Mark Gerson and his wife Rabbi Erica Gerson opened a matching campaign that will match the first 2,000 portions of falafel purchased and add an additional 2,000 portions to be given out to soldiers or first responders.
“This is an amazing opportunity for giving,” said Beer as he was standing behind the counter serving customers. “We have volunteers from all over the country who are helping out, one volunteer who owns a falafel store in Holon closed his own shop to come work at Tal’s for the day. This is what the idea of family means to United Hatzalah volunteers.”
Cooperstein, who is recuperating from surgery and looking at a lengthy rehabilitation process said: “Thank you to all of my friends and fellow responders. We help each other on a daily basis to go out and save lives. Now, they are all banding together to save my business. I am so grateful to each and every one of them and to the organization as a whole.”