The Halutza community of B’nei Netzarim
The Halutza community of B’nei Netzarim

Detroit pediatrician supports safety infrastructure for children in Halutza, Israel.

Born in Detroit, a descendent of Eastern European immigrants, Dr. Max Robins was raised to appreciate his Jewish background and value his secular education. His hero was his Zaydee. Robins’ maternal grandfather left Ukraine in the 1890s for the United States, crossing the ocean with little information and a dream of opportunity.

Dr. Max Robins
Dr. Max Robins

Robins, a pediatrician in East Lansing, remembered his family supporting Jewish National Fund-USA throughout his childhood and, as an adult, he regularly bought trees in Israel as small gifts for bar mitzvahs and celebrations. It was only after he retired from medicine, however, that he found himself drawn to more deeply support Jewish causes.

In 2015, Robins visited Israel on Jewish National Fund-USA’s President’s Mission, touring several sites, including a new medical center in the Central Arava. Seeing the Negev for the first time, he noticed the lack of ambulatory medical services and was moved to help, funding an emergency rescue vehicle for the Central Arava Command & Control Center. Thereafter, Robins continued to give to Jewish National Fund-USA projects in the Negev, particularly to the Halutza communities.

Bordering Egypt and Gaza in the Northwest Negev, Halutza was founded by a group of families evacuated to the area during Israel’s disengagement from Gaza. Their hard work, along with philanthropic investments from Jewish National Fund-USA made possible thanks to generous partners (donors) like Robins, has turned empty desert into a thriving agricultural community of 500+ families.

Living in Halutza is not without risk. Due to its close proximity to Gaza, when a siren goes off, residents have 15 seconds to make it to a bomb shelter. Despite the danger, Halutza is one of the fastest-growing communities in the Negev today.

Yedidya Harush is Halutza’s liaison with Jewish National Fund-USA. When the need arose for a new daycare center, he reached out to his close friend in Michigan. “Max loves Israel,” Harush said. “And he very much cares about children.”

As a pediatrician, Robins connected to the project on a personal level. The Max Robins Daycare Center, now under construction, will be a 7,000-square-foot facility with three classrooms, a kitchen, a music room and more. Most importantly, the center is bomb-proof, providing a shelter-in-place option in an emergency.

Robins has regularly supported safety infrastructure in Halutza. Recognizing that a well-trained group of local first responders is critical in a community under constant threat, he funded a six-month volunteer firefighter training program as well as emergency support vehicles and equipment. “Max is 99.9% heart, and the rest is just his body,” Harush said. “He really is just so incredible.”

In 2018, Robins was presented with the Tree of Life award in Naples, Florida. This is the highest honor given by Jewish National Fund-USA; it recognizes his outstanding dedication to Israel. His generosity, with its focus on critical care and community infrastructure, has made an enormous difference in the Negev region, figuratively and literally changing the surrounding landscape.

After a lifetime of healing children, he continues to provide safety and security to the community’s most vulnerable through his philanthropy.

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