It is no coincidence that the Jewish people refer to themselves as Am Yisrael (“the people of Israel”) rather than “the religion of Israel.” It is apparent that a sense of nationhood has been rooted in the Jewish people. Accordingly, the focal point of Jewish history is the Exodus from Egypt, the only story that demands an official annual retelling. Though enveloped in instances of G-d’s divinity, the Jewish Exodus is not a story of religious awakening, but that of Jewish national liberation.
Every day, a sense of nationhood is demonstrated through an emphasis on our community. Wherever Jews have lived, synagogues were built, systems of government were established, and communal organizations were maintained. Jewish national spirit was further strengthened as North Shore Hebrew Academy High School celebrated the inauguration of a new Hatzolah ambulance, which was fundraised and dedicated by our North Shore students, faculty, parents and friends. It is an honor for our school to play an integral role in contributing such critical aid to the community.
Led by North Shore teacher Rabbi Barak Levy, last year’s Chai for Chai campaign set a goal to raise $500,000 to sponsor a new state-of-the-art Hatzolah ambulance for the Great Neck and Queens communities. Students were given 18 days to collect donations for the ambulance, with the top contributors including Barak Levy, Liat and Ben Gigi, Joseph Mayer, Ella Ashourzadeh, David Aghalarian, Ben Zuckerman, Jeremy Gorjian, Liam Shaer, Eitan Kohanim and Noah Baruch.
Students and teachers finally celebrated their efforts in helping the members of their community. Students heard from headmaster Dr. Daniel Vitow, Dr. Robert and Mrs. Minoo Ohebshalom and Rabbi Barak Levy. To conclude the dedication, the Hatzolah ambulance officially debuted its release with a jovial ribbon-cutting ceremony held by the North Shore families who marshaled the Chai for Chai campaign.
In his opening remarks, Rabbi Levy had referenced a passage introduced in Sanhedrin 17b: “A talmid haham (Torah scholar) is not allowed to live in a city that does not have these 10 things: a beit din (law court) that metes out punishments; a tzedakah fund that is collected by two people and distributed by three; a synagogue; a bathhouse (mikveh); a bathroom; a doctor; a craftsperson; a blood-letter; and a teacher of children.” Believed to be the largest volunteer ambulance service in the world, the Hatzolah Organization is comprised of more than 1,000 volunteer EMTs and paramedics who answer more than 70,000 calls each year. Hatzolah volunteers are our true heroes for life. Thank you to all those who made this extraordinary feat possible!
I would like to wish everyone a wonderful and safe summer. It has been a pleasure bringing you the happenings at North Shore Hebrew Academy High School this year.
Chloe Mastour is a student at North Shore Hebrew Academy High School (NSHAHS)