Crowdfunding appeal to save hit and run victim Marcus J Freed

Because the driver who hit him failed to provide their details, there is no insurance to pay for the vital care that Mr Freed urgently needs


Family and friends of a British man who was hit by a car in Los Angeles last week have raised tens of thousands of dollars to fund his recovery.

Marcus J Freed was knocked down by a car as he crossed the road while en route to a friend’s house for Friday night dinner. According to his sister Lauren Rubin, Mr Freed, who had earlier been at shul, initially seemed dazed but otherwise well.

The driver took him to his friend’s house, but failed to leave his details. Once there, Mr Freed was taken to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in nearby Beverly Hills.

Speaking to the JC this morning, Mrs Rubin said: “They did a CT scan which showed that he had an arterial bleed between his skull and his brain.”

Mr Freed, 42, was rushed into theatre for life-saving brain surgery on Friday night. At the time of the accident his parents Gill and Barry Freed, who belong to Watford & District United Synagogue, were on holiday in Florida. They rushed to be by their son’s bedside, where they remain.

After the procedure, tests revealed that the bleed had not stopped. As a result, Mr Freed was sent back to intensive care and then the operating theatre for further surgery on Tuesday.

“It was pretty severe to have another operation but thankfully he’s come round from that now,” said Mrs Rubin, from her home in Bushey. “We don’t know the full extent of his situation. It’s still very early days and I think it’s a case of hour by hour, day by day, week by week.”

Because the driver who hit him failed to provide their details, Mr Freed, who has been living in the United States, must rely on his own limited health insurance which will not cover all the care he has received so far and will continue to need when he leaves hospital.

A trained actor, Mr Freed has spent his career combining a love of performance with a passion for the Jewish religion and culture. He is the author of several Kabbalah-based books and also created Bibliyoga — a fusion of yoga and Jewish textual understanding. He has long been involved in Jewish education and has also previously written for the JC.

Messages of prayer and good wishes were posted on social media from hundreds of friends and relatives around the world since the accident.

On Saturday evening Mr Freed called his sister to ask that she post something on Facebook to ask for people to pray for him using his Hebrew name. Unbeknown to most people, he became a rabbi earlier this year and so is now known as Harav Matisyahu Joel Baruch Ben Gitel.

“He was the secret rabbi, but now everyone knows,” said Mrs Rubin. “He had only told a few family and friends because he was doing it for his own spiritual development and not for anything else.”

A crowdfunding page has already raised more than $75,000 to support his care. Audrey Jacobs, a friend of Mr Freed, who set up the page, wrote: “Marcus J Freed has dedicated his life to being a Jewish teacher, actor and author. He has taught Torah values and life lessons globally through his writing, one-man plays, books, Bibliyoga, and the hundreds of dynamic, creative Shabbat services he’s led throughout the world.

“But Marcus only has basic public health coverage which covers very little. Thank G-d he survived and with massive prayers the doctors say he will make a full recovery but his medical bills will total at least $100,000.”

Mrs Rubin said that she and her family have been “overwhelmed” by all the prayers and good wishes, as well as the financial pledges from so many people around the world, including her brother’s community at the Pico Shul in LA.

“Pico have been unbelievable,” she said. “They’ve been like an extended family to him and we are very grateful.”

The main thing now, according to Mrs Rubin, is that her brother has the time and space to recover and recuperate.

“He’s had major trauma and surgery and now his brain and body need to heal.”

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