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Hatzola benefits after donors refuse refund

Money given to aid Charedi pair injured in car crash abroad will now go to the Jewish ambulance service after an insurance company pay-out

    Benjamin Cohen (left) and Yehuda Roitenbarg present a cheque for the donations to Hatzola's Dr Shalom Springer (centre)
    Benjamin Cohen (left) and Yehuda Roitenbarg present a cheque for the donations to Hatzola's Dr Shalom Springer (centre)

    When two young Chasidic men from Stamford Hill were critically injured in a car crash in Hungary, the community swiftly raised thousands of pounds to bring them home.

    Yehudah Roitenbarg and Benjamin Cohen both sustained head wounds and broken bones when a speeding truck ploughed into their rental vehicle in Kerestir, Hungary in May 2016.

    The pair, then aged 23 and 22 respectively, had been to pray at the graveside of the Chasidic master Rebbe Yeshayele of Kerestir and were on their way back to the airport when the accident occurred.

    When they heard the shocking news, friends and family set up an online fundraising page to bring them home. The GoFundMe page raised almost £40,000 in less than two days, enabling the two to be airlifted back to London in a private medical plane.

    Fortunately the costs were eventually recouped from their travel insurer, which meant that the donors could be reimbursed. However, many opted to transfer their donation to Hatzola, a charity offering a fast and free ambulance service within in the community.

    Mr Roitenbarg, now 24, told the JC: “We want to thanks all of those that helped us from all over the world. We are so thankful that the Jewish people donated so much - without them we wouldn’t have got back to ourselves so fast.”

    Dr Shalom Springer, trustee of Hatzola, said: “This renders the donations that people made initially to save two lives, to be available to be used to save countless lives.”

    He added: “We are overwhelmed by the good will of Yehudah and Benjamin, as well as of the donors, who declined the refund of their donation, and chose instead to give their money to Hatzola. This will greatly benefit Hatzola, and enable us to continue our dedicated service to the community.’’

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