An advanced state-of-the-art mobile intensive care unit ambulance, known as a MICU, and that is headed to Israel, was dedicated today in Albuquerque. It was first transported from Indiana to Albuquerque for its dedication on a flat bed truck and parked in front of Congregation Albert. Children from the religious school were given a tour and demonstrations and today, August 17, at 11:30 a.m. Rabbi Harry Rosenfeld offered blessings and prayers and said Kaddish, along with Cantor Barbara Finn, and the ambulance was dedicated with the name “Mikhail.” The high-tech ambulance was sponsored by Dr. Dean Rudoy, a long-time Congregation Albert congregant. Rudoy, 65, is a psychotherapist, teacher, consultant, researcher, and writer. He has a special interest in children and adolescents exposed to trauma. There is a very special story behind the name Mikhail, but first, some information about the ambulance. There will also be a blood drive at the temple on Sunday, Sept. 7, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. by United Blood Services, for distribution within New Mexico (blood cannot be transported internationally).
The history of ambulances in Israel
All of the ambulances in Israel, for the military and civilians, are supplied by the Magen David Adom, a non-governmental organization in Israel, which has a history going back to the 1930’s. As depicted in the history on the American Friends of Magen David Adom website, AFMDA, after Arab attacks in deadly riots, emergency medical transports had to be fashioned on truck beds and seven Israeli doctors founded the organization in Tel Aviv. Over the years the organization, similar to the Red Cross, spread throughout the country and, “in 1940 concerned Americans founded Red Magen Dovid for Palestine” to raise funds “for upgraded medical supplies and blood services.” Through what is now the American Friends of Magen David Adom, the ambulances are sponsored, built in Indiana and then shipped by boat from the Port of Baltimore across the Atlantic through the Straits of Gibraltar into the Mediterranean to the port of Ashdod in Israel. With 1200 ambulances in operation in Israel right now, staffed with emergency medical technicians, blood supplies, and support equipment, all are provided through this organization with major support from the AFMDA. A MICU costs $155,000.
The MICU, a bright yellow van-shaped ambulance, carries a defibrillator and advanced life-support, and initial operations can be done on an operating table inside to stabilize a patient. Most of the ambulances in Israel are white ambulances that provide basic and advanced support, but right now the MICUs are in demand. They have been brought close to the fighting this month along the Israeli-Gaza border. Erik Levis, of American Friends of Magen David Adam in New York, points out, “MICUs are not bullet-proof. They must therefore stay at a reasonably safe distance from zones of altercations.” According to a news flash on the AFMDA website following the recent clashes, “IDF soldiers in Gaza (have) faced heavy opposition. MDA ambulances met Israeli helicopters inside Israel and evacuated the injured soldiers to hospitals and transported the bodies of the fallen as well.”
In addition, there is cooperation between Magen David Adom and the Palestinian Red Crescent to transfer critically injured and other emergency patients from Gaza to hospitals and field hospitals in Israel. “One of the great untold stories is that cooperation,” added Levis. This has often taken place with the coordinated assistance of the International Red Crescent and Red Cross, he said, given the security issues involved.
The story behind the dedication of the ambulance “Mikhail”
Paula Hollinger, Congregation Albert administrator, who with Rabbi Rosenfeld had met for lunch with Dr. Rudoy earlier in the summer to organize the details of the dedication, said about Rudoy, “He is a very thoughtful person, the kind of person who renews your faith in humankind. He’s passionate about life, and understands, in order for there to be light, there have to be shadows. The conversation got very deep.”
Rudoy wrote down the story behind his decision to sponsor the ambulance: “Following the passing of my parents several years ago, I began to search for someone the identity of whom I did not know.” He began to search online in the files of Yad Vashem in Jerusalem. “I found branches of my family tree that had been severed by the brutality of the Nazis and their accomplices.” After reading terrible stories of suffering, then, “I came upon the story of Mikhail Rudoy. In the autumn of 1941, Axis forces swept across Ukraine and on 19 September they captured and occupied the capital of Kiev. On 26 September, the military governor made the decision to exterminate the Jews of Kiev and the surrounding area. The Einsatzgruppe, the Nazi killing squads, were brought in to accomplish the task.
The order was posted throughout the city:
Kikes of the city of Kiev and vicinity ! On Monday, September 29, you are to appear by 08:00 a.m. with your possessions, money, documents, valuables, and warm clothing at Dorogozhitskaya Street, next to the Jewish cemetery. Failure to appear is punishable by death.
On that Monday, over 30,000 Jews of Kiev and surrounding villages gathered by the cemetery, expecting to be loaded on to trains for resettlement. The enormous crowd of men, women, and children could not have known what was to happen. They were marched to Babi Yar, a ravine just outside the city, and there, over a two-day period of uninterrupted executions, were murdered by a special team of German SS supported by other German units and local collaborators.
According to the Einsatzgruppe’s Operational Situation Report—33,771 Jews from Kiev and its suburbs were systematically executed at Babi Yar on 29-30 September 1941—on the eve of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year—in what was to be the largest single massacre in the history of the Holocaust.
Amongst dozens of my relatives listed by Yad Vashem was Mikhail Rudoy, son of Beniamin and Freida. He was 17 years old, when he was murdered at Babi Yar. Reading of the death of this boy, I vowed to think of him every day for the rest of my life.”
Rudoy goes on to relate how he chose to have his arm tattooed, in blue ink, in Hebrew, with Mikhail’s name, and when the tattoo artist he had found, along old Route 66 in Albuquerque, asked what it meant, and he explained, the young man’s eyes filled with tears, and he told Rudoy, as the story ends:
“"I’m German. During the war, half of my family left Germany to get away from Hitler and the other half stayed and became complicit. This helps me to make amends.”
We reached toward one another. I thought getting the tattoo would change my life.
What I didn’t know was, that first, it would change another’s.”"
In having an ambulance built for the people of Israel, Rudoy says, “I can think of no more appropriate way to honor Mikhail than to save lives in his name.”
An earlier version of this article first appeared in the August issue of The Link on page 8, Vol. 44, No. 7, as "Dr. Dean Rudoy sponsors an ambulance for Israel."