The Miraculous Story of Hashgacha Pratis, A 13 Year Old Boy in Dire Need, and Hatzalah Air
The following story was recounted by Hillel Fuld, Board Member and Senior lecturer at Yeshiva University, on Hashgacha Pratis, and how three stories line up to save a 13-year-old boy in dire medical need in Panama.
I have to tell you a story, but this isn’t just any story. This is a story of childhood friendships, of “random introductions”, of coincidence after coincidence, of private jets, and ultimately, of life saving circumstances.
I promise you, this one you want to read.
Four decades ago, growing up in Queens, one of my closest friends was a boy named Avishai Neuman. Our families were close and we were very good friends.
Remember that name.
Wow, this story has so many moving parts, I’m contemplating how to even write this…
Next part of the story is a family named Kuhr.
Hillel Kuhr, who now lives here in Israel was in Ari’s class in elementary school. His parents, Phyllis and Moshe Kuhr have been friends with my parents for many many years.
Anyway, for years now, on Pesach, the Fuld family joins the Kuhrs at a resort up north. This year was no different.
We were there for most of the week and when it came to the final day of Pesach, Racheli and I were on the fence whether to stay or to go somewhere else. We ultimately decided to stay.
This organization started by Eli Rowe will fly anywhere around the world to save someone in need. Whether it’s to fly an organ to someone in need, to bring someone to the funeral of a loved one, or when there is a medical emergency and someone needs to fly to a hospital, Hatzolah Air comes to the rescue.
Captain Eli Rowe, who is a pilot himself, often flies the planes himself and now Dr. Avishai Neuman (remember him?) both supports the organization financially and plays an active role in running it.
I personally experienced Hatzolah Air, thankfully not for an emergency but when I was in Wisconsin for camp years ago and needed to get to NY.
They happened to have an empty plane in the area after a mission, so they flew me, Racheli, and the twins private to NY. It was just incredible, not only because we got to fly private, but because I got to experience this remarkable organization first hand.
And now, the final story. A long time ago, I randomly connected with a man named Bruce Gurfein. We connected on Twitter but never met. That is, until earlier this year when I had a business trip to Singapore with a stopover in Dubai.
Bruce not only lives in Dubai but he’s kinda a big deal over there. He knows absolutely everyone.
When I arrived, he was kind enough to spend the whole day with me bringing me around to see super cars, to eat fine kosher cuisine, and to teach me about all the different tourist attractions.
Since then, Bruce and I have stayed in close contact.
Ok, now to this Pesach.
On Monday night, I was sitting with Racheli and some family members on the beach. We were just chillin. Then my mom called and had some scary news.
Phyllis and Murry’s grandson was in Panama for Pesach and out of nowhere, this 13 year old child started having very scary seizures. His parents were obviously terrified, a fear that was significantly amplified being in a foreign country and not knowing anyone or how the medical system works.
My mother called to ask if there was anything I can do, or if I knew anyone in Panama.
So I did the obvious thing and tweeted “Do I know anyone in Panama? It’s important.”
I am not even slightly exaggerating when I say that Bruce replied to me on Twitter asking me what I needed in less than 10 seconds from when I sent the tweet.
He wrote “Panama, if you need emergency medical help, I have a contact.”
We went back and forth on Twitter and within a matter of MINUTES, the family was in touch with the local Jewish medical professionals who immediately sprung into action and brought the kid to another hospital, a much better hospital.
This was already an unbelievable story.
But then Racheli had a brilliant idea!
“Hatzolah Air!”, she yelled right there on the beach!
And so I immediately Whatsapp’d Eli Rowe and Avishai and told them to get the plane ready. Mind you, this was hours before the holiday was to start.
A few hours later, I turned off my phone for the holiday and had no idea where any of this led, but I hoped for the best.
As soon as the holiday ended, the Kuhr family turned on their phones (Phyllis actually left it on during the holiday, which is of course permissible due to the nature of the scenario.) and I asked for an update.
At the new hospital, the doctors diagnosed Lev (that is the child’s name, which is in and of itself unbelievable and you’ll know why in about a minute!) with an imperfection in his heart, something he was born with but had not been discovered till now.
That hole in his heart led to a clot, which led to the seizures caused by a stroke.
The word Lev means heart. I’ll let that sink in for a second.
Anyway, the medical professionals at the new hospital were able to diagnose him but he needed better care and he needed it fast. Half of his body was paralyzed and he needed urgent help.
So Eli Rowe fired up his jet engine and had his team fly to Panama to save Lev’s life. Obviously at no charge!
After the holiday was over, Lev was already in America at a hospital where he was given the best care.
I just got a message from Hillel Kuhr that Lev is doing much better, getting stronger by the minute, and is hopefully on his way to a full recovery.
I am hopeful and optimistic that he will indeed make a full recovery but one thing, one sentence, from this entire story will stick with me forever.
Lev’s grandma, Phyllis, after all the pieces of the puzzle began to come together came over to me at the hotel with tears in her eyes and said “Hillel, I’m sure you’ve done great things in your life, but this, this story is the reason you were born.
You needed to be at this hotel, you needed to be willing to use your network, you needed to connect with Bruce in Dubai who connected you with the local community, you needed to know Hatzalah Air, and on and on.
This is why you were born.”
I don’t know if she’s right but I’ll tell you one thing. This is yet another illustration of how everything in this world happens for a reason.
Just think about the chain of events that had to take place here for us to have achieved the results we achieved.
Growing up with Avishai, Israel introducing me to Eli, us staying at that hotel for Pesach, connecting with Bruce in Dubai, deciding to tweet asking who I know in Panama. The chain of events here is extensive and if one of those events, only one had not taken place, none of this would have happened.
I just WhatsApp’d Israel, Eli, and Avishai to tell them that they are going straight to heaven after this unbelievable story of saving the life of a random 13 year old Jewish boy who was visiting Panama for Pesach.
I wish Lev a fully and speedy recovery and I am so thankful to have played a small part in this absolutely miraculous story.
As I’m publishing this post, I just got an email from another Kuhr brother. I will copy and paste the text here.
My bother sent me what you wrote and it is really amazing!
I just want you to know that the specific person you first put us in touch with through your friend in Dubai, Dudu Azran- was a major key to the critical care that he got in Panama.
After I reached him, Dudu immediately went with the head of Hatzalah, Marvin Kafif in an ambulance to the remote and backwards hospital that he was initially taken to.
My brother was experiencing the worst moments of his life. His son seizing uncontrollably and unresponsive in a foreign country.
Within an hour of him arriving at the remote hospital, Marvin and Dudu arrived.
My brother told me that the site of men in Kipot who took control of the situation made my brother feel that everything would be okay. He had no way of knowing that these two righteous men would put their own lives on hold for three days and nights and stay with him throughout his traumatic stay, seeing to his every need.
Many people have connections. Your willingness, Hillel, to use the connections you have made to help others is truly extraordinary.
You have helped so many people in so many ways and you may have been the key to saving Lev’s life.
I and my family are so grateful to you and hope the you know only success and joy for yourself and your family.”
I am going into Shabbat with a huge smile and a heart overflowing with emotions.