Memory Lane: How Boro Park Hatzolah got its First Ambulance

Memory Lane: How Boro Park Hatzolah got its First Ambulance

Boro Park Hatzolah—the venerated institution that is currently in the midst of a campaign that is galvanizing the entire community around the effort to expand its fleet of vehicles—has been a central pillar of our community.

But the fledgling years, when the concept of a speedy response time was nonexistent. The story is well-known about how Hatzolah was founded in Williamsburg by Reb Hershel Weber, who saw a Yid collapse on the street, and subsequently die, waiting for medical attention.

Hatzolah soon came to Boro Park, and someday we will chronicle the personalities who founded Hatzolah of Boro Park—but today we tell the story of how they got their first ambulance to transport patients to the hospital.

It was in the middle of a cold winter’s night in 1978. This was a time when Boro Park teemed with She’eiris Hapleitah Yidden, the precious Holocaust survivors who rebuilt a lost world. Reb Moshe Perlman, from the extremely prominent Bobover Perlman family of Krakow, was called across the street 

A neighbor had suffered a heart attack, and there was snow a foot high. Reb Moshe and his wife waited for an hour for an ambulance to arrive! At that moment, they resolved to donate the first ambulance for Hatzolah.

“We were in our infancy, “recalled Reb Yitzchok Birnhack, one of the first Boro Park Hatzolah members, “and we didn’t know what we would do with an ambulance. We didn’t feel we were ready. I told Reb Moshe that we were in desperate need of oxygen tanks, and we preferred by get those instead. He said; ‘the Ambulance is yours, and I’ll give you another $3000 for your oxygen tanks!’

That very night, he cut us a $10,000 check as a first installment, and when it came to the next installment, He asked me to come personally to pick up the check. When I got there, he made one condition with me; that his name not appear anywhere near this ambulance.

Reb Moshe, who gave large sums in tzeddakah (he was among the first donors to Yad Eliezer, and many others) had a motto: “ich darf nisht m’zol mir shreiben unten, as m’shreibt oiben, I don’t need them to write about me down here… they’re writing everything up there.

“This,” Reb Yitzchok Birnhack relates, “was our foundation… and it encouraged others to donate ambulances, and numerous lives were saved from that vehicle, and from the others that came after it—all due to the visionary chessed of one man on a frigid Boro Park night.”

Editor’s note: It is now 43 years after Reb Moshe Perlman, z”l, blazed a trail—providing Boro Park Hatzolah with its first ambulance. Please join in following his example—helping this organization acquire three new ambulances to serve a community that has since grown so exponentially, ka”h. Donate with heart and soul for this institution which is the heart and soul of our community.


Reb Moshe shaking the hand of the Bobover Rebbe, the first Ambulance, and Reb Moshe (at right) as a bachur in Krakow).

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