Abundance of Jewish Stars Shine Brightly at the Magen David Red Star Ball
The Magen David Red Star Ball took place October 30th at the Beverly Hilton. The event celebrated the work of MDA and the donors who make its work possible.
Rabbi Chaim Mentz of the Chabad of Bel Air addressed the crowd saying that it was the night of Rachel Imeinu’s yahrtzeit. He suggested that the most important person to impress is your mother and “tonight you and I are going to impress one of the holiest mothers we have.”
MDA Director General Eli Bean and his assistant Chief Operations Officer Ori Shacham thanked Los Angeles and a dedicated mother, Dina Leeds, who serves as Chairman of the Board of Directors. Eli Bean said the enthusiasm of Dina and her husband Fred was amazing, inspiring and should serve as a model for everyone.
More than 18 million dollars was raised this year thanks to a 12 million dollar donation from Dr. Miriam and Sheldon Adelson, a five million dollar donation from Maurice Kanbar, and many other generous corporations and individuals, including a lone soldier.
Funds raised will go towards the new Marcus National Blood Services Center that will keep Israel’s blood supply safe from rocket attacks and earthquakes, and for the life-saving work MDA performs 365 days a year. According to Fred Leeds, there is a call for assistance every eight seconds. The paramedics and EMT’s that answer the call are real heroes that are moser nefesh every single day.
Paramedics from different regions in Israel appeared on stage. Mohammed “Chamudi” Arrabi, Senior EMT represented the Dan region; Israel Weingarten, Senior EMT Rivka Or, First Responder Yoni Cohen, and Aharon Adler represented the Jerusalem region. Volunteer Paramedic Nati Regev and Alisa and Robert Leeds represented MDS Overseas Volunteers.
IDF hero Gilad Mezamer related the miraculous story of how one paramedic, Aharon Adler, helped save his life when he was critically injured by an Arab terrorist.
Alisa and Robert Leeds spoke about their experiences this past summer volunteering in Israel. Alisa volunteered at children’s hospital where she shadowed and assisted doctors in the emergency room and surgery and rode in an ambulance from 11 p.m. until 7 a.m. Robert Leeds rode in the very ambulance he donated for his bar mitzvah and was able to see in person how the ambulance was essential in saving lives.
Dina Leeds led everyone in the recitation of Shema. She spoke about places in the world that she has visited that are beautiful now, but years ago were places where Jews were oppressed and persecuted. She said, “There’s only one thing that has protected us and that’s G-d’s gift of the State of Israel,” adding, “in order to protect our children, we must make sure that Israel is safeguarded with a strong infrastructure.”
Renee and Meyer Luskin were the recipients of the Lifetime Achievement Award. Meyer Luskin said that at 92 years young he’s not ready to accept a lifetime award, but that he and Renee had “immense joy in helping others.” He quoted a Talmudic scholar “Who so ever saves a life, it is considered as if he saved an entire world.” Meyer Luskin said Magen David Adom saves at least one life every single day and should always have the best equipment and facilities.
Nikita Kahn accepted the award for Leadership-Next Generation. She said that Israelis deeply love their country and will do anything to keep it safe. “These heroes are just men and women like you and me mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, ordinary people doing extraordinary things.
The humanitarian of the year award went to Sheldon and Dr. Miriam Adelson. Adelson told the story of how he met Miri. Both of them helped people with addictions, and Mr. Adelson joked he became addicted to his future wife. Sheldon Adelson concluded his acceptance speech by saying, “My heart is in Israel and Israel is in my heart.” The Adelsons have also set up a medical school at Ariel University, support Yad Vashem, and own the newspaper Israel HaYom.
Jerry Seinfeld, the iconic comedian, entertained the crowd. Mr. Seinfeld introduced himself and when he returned hours later towards the end of the program to do his set, he joked that he since the beginning of the Red Star Ball, he had flown to Chicago, had another gig, and returned. His observational comedy is as funny as ever.
Concluding the magical night, Saul Blinkoff – successful animator and development consultant, as well as a director/producer for Walt Disney Studios – took the stage. While music from favorite Disney classics filled the ballroom, he sketched animated characters, wowing the crowd.