Some sixteen years ago, in February of 2007, I became acquainted with an Israeli organization
called Yad Sarah.
My wife and I were in Haifa as part of a volunteer group participating in a month-long stay to
Israel. Early one Saturday evening, while walking back to our hotel after dinner, my wife tripped on a depression in the
sidewalk, scraping her knees and twisting her right foot. The next day the right foot stiffened up and she couldn’t put any
weight on it. I got a wheelchair from the hotel and right after breakfast we took a taxi to the Carmel Hospital, about 10
minutes away. Check-in was quick and consisted simply of paying $200 and providing them with my wife’s name which they entered
in phonetic Hebrew. Next was a trip to the orthopedics wing where a doctor looked over the foot and sent us off to the X-ray
department. After a short wait for the foot to be X-rayed, we returned to the orthopedics wing where the doctor announced
that a bone in the foot was broken. They bandaged the foot for support, told my wife to stay off the foot for a week, to keep
the foot elevated and to ice it when necessary. She also got a tetanus shot. They told her that after a week, she should go
see an orthopedics physician to check on how the foot was healing. We asked if they could provide a pair of crutches and they
told us that the hospital did not supply crutches. The nurse told us to go to Yad Sarah (translation: “Sarah’s hand”
or Sarah’s memorial) where crutches could be obtained. I got the address of Yad Sarah in Haifa, returned to X-ray to
get a copy of the X-rays on computer disc, get the hand-written examination report copied for insurance purposes and we were
off to Yad Sarah in a taxi.
“Yad Sarah is the largest national volunteer organization in Israel. Employing over 6,000 volunteers,
with a salaried staff of 150, Yad Sarah serves over 350,000 clients each year. It is best known for its free loans of over
244,000 pieces of medical and rehabilitative home-care equipment annually, enabling sick, disabled, elderly and recuperating
patients to live at home.” (Ref. 1)
Yad Sarah provides medical equipment such as crutches on a loan basis. You put down a
deposit ($15), use the crutches for as long as you need them, return the crutches and they return your deposit. We got a
pair of crutches and we returned to the hotel in time for lunch.
While my wife got around just fine on the crutches, it was much faster in the hotel-provided
wheelchair. The broken bone seemed to be mostly annoying and she wasn’t in any great pain. Later, I called Yad Sarah
to tell them I wanted to buy the crutches she was using. They told me that wasn’t possible – Yad Sarah lends but
doesn’t rent or sell. I asked if they knew of any place in Haifa to buy crutches. Answer – NO. I asked the three people on
the hotel desk if they knew of any place in Haifa to buy crutches. Answer – NO. I asked the hostess in the hotel business
lounge if she knew of any place in Haifa to buy crutches. Answer – NO.
Near the end of our stay in Haifa, I called Abboud, our Arab van driver, and arranged for a ride
from the hotel to Ben Gurion airport for our return to the States. I asked him if he could have the crutches dropped off at
Yad Sarah after we left and he assured me that he would do so.
On the morning of our departure from Israel, Abboud was right on time. At the airport, Abboud and I
had a bit of a problem locating a wheelchair, but after being sent to three different ticket counters, we succeeded. Without
Abboud, I might still be wandering around the airport. After we got the wife into the wheelchair, EL AL efficiently expedited
our passage through the ticketing and security process and to the departure gate, all in less than 15 minutes. Later, Abboud
returned the borrowed crutches to Yad Sarah.
“The defining mission of Yad Sarah is to enable chronically ill, disabled, infirm, and terminally ill
people, ranging in age from infancy to old age, to live at home either on their own or in the care of their families or
caregivers, with dignity and as independently as possible. With the dedicated help of 7,000+ volunteers supported by a small
staff and operating through over 120 branches located in every corner of Israel, Yad Sarah provides an all-encompassing and
fully integrated range of medical equipment and home-based healthcare support services, all for free or at nominal cost to
hundreds of thousands of people in Israel annually.” (Ref. 2)
Yad Sarah was established in 1976 and is recognized widely as a model for a humane and
cost-effective approach to caring for the ill and injured at home. 800,000 People in Israel are helped by Yad Sarah
every year! Its 7000+ Volunteers in 120+ branches and regional centers provide 555,900+ medical equipment loans, 20,000+
emergency alarm subscriptions, and much more. In the past year, it made 555,900+ medical/rehab equipment loans in need,
23,131 home hospital units, and made 5,800 equipment deliveries to homes. For home care, it provided 9,600 treatments through
mobile clinics, and portable kits at its Geriatric Dental Clinics, 31,779 visits to Day Rehabilitation Centers in 5 locations
and 7,860 visits to the Frenkel Emergency Medical Center. For home care last year, Yad Sarah made: 55,000 visits
from volunteers to the homebound, coordinated by 21 branches and 69,909 calls to people who were isolated. Yad Sarah
also supplies: Yad Riva Legal Services for the elderly, Golden Agers Club and the Sewing Circle, Fitness Center for people
with special needs, and the Family Center, a unique family violence intervention
The organization’s annual budget of $23 million is covered almost exclusively by private donations
and foundation grants. Its work on behalf of vulnerable populations has been recognized through numerous national awards,
including the prestigious Israel Prize, the Kaplan Efficiency Prize, and the President’s Voluntary Service Award. In 2005,
Yad Sarah was recognized as an advisory body to the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) of the United Nations --
the first time ever that an Israeli-Jewish organization achieved this status.
- Yad Sarah, Wikipedia, Accessed 10 January 2023.
- Home, friendsofyadsarah.org , Accessed 10 January 2023.
- Services, friendsofyadsarah.org, Accessed 10 January 2023.