Facebook exec gives $1 million to Israeli medical service

Meta COO Sheryl Sandberg’s million-dollar gift to United Hatzalah for aiding Ukrainian refugees comes three months after her $5 million donation.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Sheryl Sandberg, Chief Operating Officer of Facebook’s Meta Platforms, has given her second mega-donation to United Hatzalah in three months, this time to help their life-saving work in wartorn Ukraine, the organization announced Monday.

Sandberg and her fiancé, Tom Bernthal, gave the volunteer-based emergency medical services organization a million dollars to enable the expansion of their medical and psychological treatment of refugees who have been fleeing the invasion of Russian forces into their country.

United Hatzalah was the first Israeli medical group on the Ukrainian border with Moldova, landing only a few days after the war began last month in what it dubbed Operation Orange Wings due to the orange vests worn by all their volunteers. The group eventually included more than 50 EMTs, paramedics, physicians, psychologists and social workers, divided into four teams that work at two border checkpoints.

“What is happening right now in Ukraine is heartbreaking,” said Sandberg. “I am proud of the work United Hatzalah of Israel is doing to provide emergency medical care to refugees on the Moldovan border. It is critical that organizations and individuals step up to support the Ukrainian people.”

United Hatzalah has not only provided medical aid in their field hospitals to thousands of refugees near the border crossing.  From their main base in a synagogue in the nearby capital of Chisinau, the volunteers have provided thousands of hot meals a day to the evacuees and organized flights for thousands who decided to immigrate to Israel.

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Daring volunteers have also crossed into Ukraine in ambulances they have bought, going into cities in the war zones to rescue people, from newborn babies to Holocaust survivors.

“The need for humanitarian assistance has never been more dire, and I am extremely proud of what our volunteers have accomplished overseas,” said Eli Beer, United Hatzalah’s president and founder.

“We are doing our part in providing necessary assistance to hundreds of thousands of refugees who have made their way into Moldova and other countries, and funds from this donation will continue to make those efforts possible. We couldn’t be more grateful to the Sandberg family and all they have done.”

Sandberg’s first donation was a $5 million gift to United Hatzalah’s women’s unit, announced last December at a fundraising dinner honoring her parents, Dr. Joel and Adele Sandberg, who are strong supporters of the 6,000-strong, first-responder group.  The three-year-old unit, which was then renamed in her parents’ honor, consists of more than 100 religious women who are uniquely able to aid their female co-religionists during medical emergencies, as they might otherwise feel uncomfortable being treated by a male EMT.

Meta’s Jewish COO is a huge proponent of women helping women, in the workplace and in their personal lives. She is the founder of Lean In, an organization where women come together to help each other achieve their ambitions while encouraging companies to build inclusive workplaces where female employees are supported and empowered.

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Sandberg also established Option B, a group that supports women emotionally by helping them build resilience in the face of adversity.