Hillel Aims To Raise Funds for Ambulance

Harvard Hillel kicked off a fundraising project yesterday to buy an ambulance for the Israeli National Emergency Services during its celebration of Israel’s Independence Day.

The Campus Hillel Ambulance Initiative—nicknamed Project CHAI as the Hebrew word “chai” means “life”—plans to raise $70,000 to buy an ambulance for Magen David Adom (MDA), Israel’s official emergency medical, disaster, ambulance and blood bank service.

The Hillel group is hoping to make money by collecting donations in front of the Science Center, tabling in dining halls, hosting fund-raising events and individual solicitations.

MDA has over 650 emergency ambulances operating 24-hours-a-day, 365-days-a-year, but during the current conflict in the Middle East it must replace ambulances at a rate of 80 per year, according to the leaders of Project CHAI.

The project is also intended to build community at Harvard.

“We want to allow the Harvard and the Hillel community to respond to the situation [of violence in the Middle East] in a unified way despite a wide range of views about the situation,” said Tova A. Serkin ’02, one of Project CHAI’s co-leaders and a former Crimson executive.

Avram D. Heilman ’03, the president of the Harvard Students for Israel, said he believes that the project gives a medium for students who want to assist those facing Mideast violence, but are unsure what to do.

“The community feels helpless about how to respond to events in the Middle East. The project is as important to help build community as it is putting an ambulance on the street,” Heilman said.

The project was the idea of Rabbi David Kudan, Hillel’s reform rabbinic adviser. Kudan implemented a similar program in Chicago.

Heilman said that Kudan approached him to help run the program. But, the leaders emphasized that the program is driven by students.

“Our focus for the fundraising is on students, though we are also soliciting from adult members of the community,” Serkin said.

They are also plans to expand the program.

“We are currently trying to encourage schools in the Northeast to participate in the project. National Hillel is also trying to organize a larger-scale program,” Serkin said.

Boston University, Yale University and the University of Pennsylvania have similar projects.