Jewish News campaign for life-saving vehicle launched in memory of Rabbi Sacks
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Jewish News campaign for life-saving vehicle launched in memory of Rabbi Sacks

We've joined forces with MDA UK to raise £135,000 to honour the former Chief Rabbi who was a 'champion' of the emergency service charity

Justin Cohen is the News Editor at the Jewish News

Lord and Lady Sacks with Stuart Glyn, Former MDA UK chairman
Lord and Lady Sacks with Stuart Glyn, Former MDA UK chairman

A campaign to donate a life-saving vehicle for Israel in memory of Lord Sacks is launched today by Jewish News and MDA UK.

The initiative seeks to raise £135,000 to purchase the first of a new batch of bloodmobiles which will transport teams to collect some of the 1,100 units each day that keep the country’s blood supply full. Bearing the name of the former chief rabbi, it will eventually find a home at the new British-funded Blood and Logistics Centre, which is due to open next year.

MDA UK described Lord Sacks, who passed away last week aged just 72, as a long-time “champion” of the charity and revealed £18,000 had already been pledged before the campaign was publicly launched. Chief Executive Daniel Burger said: “Eighty percent of Israel’s blood supplies are collected remotely and the current fleet is up to 19 years old and some are close to being beyond economic repair.  In addition, as Israel’s population and tourist population grows, MDA needs to increase its blood inventory in line with this growth and therefore these new vehicles play an essential part in this growth.

“The global Magen David Adom family is honoured to be part of this fundraising campaign. Nothing will give us more pride than seeing a bloodmobile on the streets of Israel bearing the name of Rabbi Lord Sacks and saving lives.”

Blood mobile

Former prime minister Tony Blair, who has hailed Lord Sacks as “my hero” who enhanced hios knowledge about the place of Israel for Jews, told Jewish News: “This would be a fitting tribute to Rabbi Sacks, a truly exceptional man and humanitarian.”

A spokesperson for Lord Sacks’ family said: “This is a wonderful initiative and one which is hugely meaningful to all the family. Life is precious above all else, and the idea that any funds raised will go towards pikuach nefesh, saving peoples’ lives, is a fitting way of honouring the legacy of Rabbi Sacks z”l.”

On the day he was ennobled in 2009, Rabbi Sacks spoke at the MDA UK dinner. Then dinner chair, Nicholas Springer, said: “He delivered the best appeal speech we ever heard. He is sorely missed by both within and outside our community and the bloodmobile we are dedicating in is memory will be a fitting tribute.”

Rabbi Lord Sacks with Stuart Glyn, Former MDA UK chairman (left) and Nicholas Springer, MDA UK Board Member (right)

Former ambassador to the UK Daniel Taub added: “Reflecting community, service, taking responsibility and helping others, this is a wonderful tribute to many of the lessons Rabbi Sacks taught us, in his writings and in his life.”

Last week’s Jewish News front page

Rabbi Lionel Rosenfeld of Marble Arch Synagogue, where Lord Sacks was once the minister, described Rabbi Sacks as “our moral compass and spokesman. Donating to MDA for this vehicle in his name is a wonderful way to honour what he held dear – the sanctity of life. As Rabbi Sacks himself wrote: “Grant strength to those who see to the needs of the injured and sick, and open our hearts in prayer and our hands in generosity, so that by our actions we may bring comfort, healing and support.”

The campaign was conceived by Jewish News a decade after we teamed up with Cockfosters Synagogue and legendary fundraiser Norman Rosenbaum to buy an MDA ambulance. By 2017, it had attended 10,733 calls, including almost 8,000 adult emergencies and more than 600 child emergencies. The vehicle and crew also helped more than 100 women to give birth.

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