Locals donate money to purchase firetruck in Israel


Israeli fire and rescue squads recently received some unexpected assistance from Barry Feldman and Sandy Zieve, friends of the Cleveland Jewish National Fund.


After hearing about the need for more firetrucks in Israel during a Jan. 11 presentation by Ariel Kotler, development officer of Israel operations for JNF, and Shmulik Friedman, chief of operations for Israel’s fire and rescue services, the two Cleveland-area residents stepped up and donated funds to help purchase a firetruck for Israel.


Mindy Feigenbaum, Northern Ohio director of JNF, said trucks are badly needed in Israel due to both the aging fleet of existing trucks and a wave of large fires. She estimated that a truck would go on 1,000 to 2,000 calls annually.


“When the reporters and cameras leave the fire area, JNF is still there,” Feigenbaum said. “We’re very proud of Barry and Sandy for stepping up to purchase the firetruck.”


The truck costs $500,000 and the Israeli government is subsidizing 75 percent, so Feldman and Zieve will cover the rest, about $125,000. Feldman hosted the January presentation and said he initially wasn’t expecting to donate more. However, he said he was so moved by the need of the Israeli people that in addition to the board challenge to raise funds for a truck the Cleveland JNF was doing, Feldman put out a matching ask at the end of the presentation if anyone would meet him halfway for the cost of another truck.


“I got halfway around the room, then I saw Sandy, and she had this smile on her face, and she put her hand up,” he said.


Zieve said she saw Feldman donating and said she saw him as someone who is always giving from the heart.


“I didn’t even question it,” she said.


Kotler said the firetruck will help reduce response times and help to make sure Israeli firefighters are prepared.


“The JNF and people in Cleveland are saying to Israelis, ‘You are not alone,’” Kotler said. “We thank Barry and Sandy on behalf of their leadership.”


Feldman, Kotler and Zieve all said they expected the firetruck to be in Israel before the end of the year.


Feldman and Zieve both were excited to travel to Israel for the commissioning of the new truck and they plan to name the truck.

Zieve also would like to have a puppy adopted by the fire crew as a mascot, but isn’t sure how well that idea would be received by the firefighters.

Both Feldman and Zieve agree that making the donation together is a powerful statement. They called themselves Diaspora Jews supporting their brothers and sisters in Israel.


“We have obligations to see that country thrive and survive, even though we don’t live there ourselves,” Feldman said. “The fact that we’re doing it together leverages it. We wish to set an example to our Cleveland community of how important it is to support Israel. We’re very blessed and being blessed comes with an obligation to help others. We cannot take it for granted.”


Story by Ed Carrol


Publication: clevelandjewishnews.com

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