MDA serves both the IDF and Israeli citizens.
MDA serves both the IDF and Israeli citizens.

Alan Dershowitz to speak at American Friends of Magen David Adom Detroit gala.

American Friends of Magen David Adom wants all of Metro Detroit to understand the critical and lifesaving work of Israel’s national EMS and blood services organization, so it’s enlisting one of the biggest pro-Israel advocates to make the case for MDA.

Judy and David Karp
Judy and David Karp Detroit Jewish News

Professor Alan Dershowitz, author of The Case for Israel, will be the featured speaker at AFMDA’s Detroit event on Oct. 17 at Congregation Shaarey Zedek in Southfield. Chaired by Judy and David Karp, the event will have a decidedly different feel this year. Instead of a formal, seated event, guests can opt-in to an exclusive VIP reception with Dershowitz at 6 p.m., followed by a Q&A with the former Harvard University academic that will be open to the community at 7 p.m.

The event’s reimagined format is meant to draw new attention to one of Israel’s most important medical and national security infrastructure projects: MDA’s new Marcus National Blood Services Center. Currently under construction, but still short of necessary funding, the new blood center will be the world’s first underground blood processing, testing, storage and distribution facility. The total cost of the project is $133 million, of which 75 percent has been raised.

MDA is responsible for all the blood needs of the Israel Defense Forces, while also providing 97 percent of the blood used by Israeli hospitals for civilian use. The current blood center in Tel HaShomer, built in 1987 with funding from AFMDA, is vulnerable to rocket attack and biochemical terrorism. It also can no longer accommodate Israel’s growing population and does not meet Israel’s current building regulations for earthquake compliance.

The new blood center will be a safe, underground and secure complex, complete with sophisticated ventilation systems in the event of chemical attacks and housing state-of-the-art laboratories and blood-processing units. As Israelis continue dealing with a deadly wave of terrorist stabbings, shootings and car-rammings, the need for a safe and reliable blood supply is ever-more urgent.

Despite its critical importance, the Marcus National Blood Services Center is only part of MDA’s ongoing and robust medical services. MDA operates a fleet of more than 1,000 ambulances and 500 Medicycles that are dispatched from 166 medical stations throughout Israel. MDA receives no operational funding from the Israeli government, so it relies heavily on donations from Americans and volunteers in Israel, who make up 87 percent of its 17,000 emergency responders.

“Judy and I are proud to rally behind such an important cause — protecting Israel’s ability to fully respond to medical emergencies,” said David Karp, who will moderate the conversation with Dershowitz. “We want to make everyone in our community aware of the vital role played by MDA and its first-responder heroes.”

A rendering of the Marcus National Blood Services Center
A rendering of the Marcus National Blood Services Center Detroit Jewish News

The Detroit event will also celebrate the innovation and technology MDA develops and uses to save lives every day. Advancements such as smartphone apps and integrated command-and-control centers allow MDA to dispatch emergency vehicles within four seconds of receiving a call.

Key to that success has been ongoing support from the Greater Detroit community. Over the years, local donors have sponsored hundreds of ambulances, Mobile Intensive Care Units, MDA medical stations, equipment and training. Natalie Charach, and her late husband, Manny, set an extraordinary example, donating 42 MDA ambulances, more than anyone else in the world.

Watch a video of 5 Minutes with Magen David Adom

“MDA’s ability to save tens of thousands of Israelis every year is thanks, in large part, to the community in Michigan which, per capita, provides more support to MDA than any other community in the U.S.,” said AFMDA Midwest Regional Director Richard Zelin.

“For years, Detroiters have been incredibly generous supporters of MDA through sponsorships of emergency vehicles and youth volunteer stints, and we’re incredibly proud of that,” added Judy Karp. “Now the cause is even more profound as the need to build a new blood center underscores the mission of saving lives and keeping Israel safe and secure.”

For those who cannot attend Oct. 17, Dershowitz will also speak at a MDA-themed event on Oct. 18 at 7 p.m. at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Ann Arbor.

For more information, contact Sharon Kobernik at (888) 674-4871 or skobernik@afmda.org. Tickets for the Detroit event start at $18 and can be purchased at www.afmda.org/events/detroit.