We busted through traffic like gun-mounted Strykers, siren wailing and blipping like a mad, mad metronome, then snaked down a brick pathway to the segregated orthodox beach (it’s Man Night today) where a boy had nearly drowned in the unusually high surf, which we could see pounding the breakwater and busting higher into the air than North Shore breakers on Oahu.

The kit on Yisrael’s scooter puts a G.I. combat lifesaver bag to shame. This is serious work they do. I was roundly impressed with Yisrael, both by his evident professionalism and by his good-humored approach to a career that’s seen more human carnage than a whole platoon of combat troops on a long rotation.

Impressive guy, and unbelievably modest. Full-time job as a cemetery manager, volunteers with ZAKA (24/7 on call), does a monthly rotation as an MDA medic (three years to qualify), and serves in the IDF reserves as a major.

Ass. Kicker.

And the kindest face I’ve seen in aeons, like a cross between the Fiddler on the Roof and freakin’ SANTA CLAUS.

He hopped off the scooter, grabbed an O2 bottle and his jump start kit and charged into the breach, flipface helmet still in place.

Turned out the boy had returned to normal breathing, so after a quick vitals check, Yisrael turned and followed his long, grey beard back to the orange-painted Silver Wing that delivers him and his “battle rattle” to several medical calls every month.

As he wove back through the crowd of swimmers, they offered up shy applause.

Total response time: TWO MINUTES.

After he chatted with the swimmers, he and I talked for a moment. He packed his stuff, and we turned around to leave just as the MDA “bus” arrived with a 30-ish driver and a smokin’ hot EMT next to him.

Ambulance response time: ten minutes.


  1. Holy cow. Amazing. Had the kid not gone back to breathing he still would’ve been in time. The ambulance, not so much.

    Ass kicker is right. In the best of ways. And fabulously shared.

  2. Tov me’od! You got to see some action after all, and right off the bat. You’re going to have a unique trip, Jack, in a remarkable country of fascinating and often inspiring men and women (ratcheted that down about four notches so’s not to sound sick with envy). Enjoy muggy, beautiful, hedonistic Tel Aviv, and ride safe.

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