From the Lower East Side of Manhattan to Israel
The following is a short diary of events depicting the life-saving journey of Bram a Jewish kid who hails from the Lower East Side of New York City, and who succeeded in saving a life of an Ethiopian Jew in Israel, Rosh Hashanah, marking his 4th successful mission and find with the IDU, Israel's lead civilian canine security and SAR unit.
Just as they were settling down for dinner, the rest of their Chag and their plans were changed completely. Known as the busiest day of the week, Friday, September 18th 2020 –coupled with Erev Rosh Hashanah- was no exception. Especially for the volunteers at the Israel Dog Unit HQ, located in Kfar Tappuach of the Shomron. After cooking, cleaning, organizing, shopping, taking care of the dogs, conducting basic maintenance, along with a whole horde of other chores and errands – including dealing with 2 high risk missing person cases – the members of the IDU's 24-hour emergency response team had a collective sigh of relief as they were finally able to wish their families a final "shanah tova" and head up to the synagogue for Shabbat/Rosh Hashanah prayers. Finally, after a tough, hectic, hardworking day, these special volunteers who devote their every spare minute to the lifesaving activities of the IDU would be able to enjoy a nice and peaceful holiday meal and welcome in the new year. However, what they did not know, was that this vision of a serene, peaceful non-eventful holiday
Zev and Bnaya from the IDU's Gush Etzyon branch, were sent to meet Guy at a bus stop on Kiryat Gat, where clothing had been spotted that resembled the clothing that Avraham was seen in on the security cameras outside of his home. The Gush Etzyon team search nearby orchards, without any sign of Avraham, and then moved on to join the Tapuach and Tel Aviv IDU teams at the IDU command center in the Lod police station.
At this point it was a full 2 days after Avraham's disappearance and he was considered to be in very grave danger. As Bram, Yitzy and SAR dog Yenta approached their assigned area, they realized that from the attempted point of entry the area was mostly fenced off. They logically decided to split up and go along the perimeter of the area in different directions searching all entry points on the way. As Yitzy and SAR dog Yenta headed east, Bram headed south and soon found a suitable entry point to a very interesting abandoned parking lot, overgrown and unmaintained: a perfect example of where a missing dementia patient, such as Avraham, could be slowly dehydrating in and waiting for help. However, after searching the area very efficiently, making sure to check every possible rock and tree where Avraham could be, Bram left the area convinced that Avraham was not there. Another 200 yards down, now heading east, Bram happened upon another entry point: an unkempt trail going around a small hill with a very steep drop into a jungle of thick thorns and brush. Fearing that Avraham could have fallen into the unfriendly plants, Bram quickly started battling his way through the valley, searching every possible plant.
After about 50 yards of this, Bram exited the thorns and proceeded to return to the trail only to be pleasantly surprised by a man with Avraham's description lying on the ground just a few feet away! After sending his findings to the search HQ, Bram realized that the man, presumed to be Avraham, was extremely dehydrated from lying in the sun for so long without water. He gently carried him to a shady spot not too far away and proceeded to give him to drink from his own water supply. Soon after, the police came with a family member who confirmed that the man found was indeed Avraham and quickly rushed him to an ambulance from where he was then taken to the hospital.
Bram and the other volunteers who were then searching proceeded to return to the police station where the search was headquartered to celebrate the happy ending of this intense episode as well as the remainder of Shabbat and the Chag. G-d works in mysterious ways. Amir Ohana, Israel's minister of Internal Security, came to visit the Corona check points in Lod and to meet with Lod's Chief of Police, who congratulated the police and the IDU volunteers on the impressive find and for saving Avraham's life. However, the story does not end here!
After the celebrating, the IDU team packed up all the dogs and equipment to head back to base in case of another search. They didn’t have to wait long. About 20 minutes into the drive home, the phone rang once again. This time the call came from Dudi Mayblum, Head of the IDU's northern branch, informing the carload of volunteers about a missing Alzheimer's patient, Moshe Senior, in the Neve Chof neighborhood of Rishon Letzion. Without missing a beat, Commander Mike Ben-Yaakov along with the eager volunteers, turned around the van, and headed out to the area of the search. Once arriving, Ben-Yaakov got ahold of the policeman in charge of the search who then relayed the relevant information. After learning all that he needed to know, Ben-Yaakov then deployed the volunteers in the car with him along with others who arrived on their own. After about an hour of searching, Commander Ben-Yaakov received the good news that Mr. Senior was found alive.
After receiving the good news, it seemed that the IDU team, exhausted from a long day, would finally be able to return home. Once the IDU team returned to their base in Kfar Tappuach of the Shomron, they quickly took care of the dogs who were also exhausted, before finally sitting down to make Kiddush, eat something and enjoy the rest of the Chag. This was already long after midnight. However, just as they were making Kiddush, the phone rang for the third time. Calling from Nahariya in the north, a young lady informed Commander Ben-Yaakov of the disappearance of her grandfather Vladimir Freifeld, an 85-year-old Alzheimer's patient, who rode off on his bicycle and hadn't been seen for 18 hours. Ben-Yaakov quickly dialed IDU North who proceeded to search the relevant areas until Vladimir was ultimately found alive. We say many times in the Rosh Hashana prayers, the books of life and death are open before G-d and he judges each creature individually and inscribes them for life or sadly, sometimes the alternative. With 3 high risk cases within 24-hours of each other all found alive thanks to G-d as well as His messengers in the IDU, we can say that this year, cannot be off to a better start. G-d has smiled on the respective missing people and He has smiled on the volunteers of the IDU to whom He gave the privilege of having a hand in the rescue of all three.