Joel Gorenstein, ’93
Owner, JG Development, Inc.; Coordinator and Paramedic, Hatzalah
I am humbled to have been nominated for the Alumni Who Inspire Chanukah campaign. I want to shine a light on the organization that has facilitated this nomination, Hatzalah Chicago. Every dedicated member of Hatzalah, whether service member, dispatcher, EMT, Paramedic or administrative staff, has inspired so many people throughout the Chicago Jewish community, especially during this Covid-19 pandemic. In the early days of the pandemic, Hatzalah responded to dozens of calls a week for confirmed or possible Covid patients. But Hatzalah did so much more for the community. We participated in joint organization forums to help formulate the community messaging. We distributed pulse oximeters, oxygen concentrators and PPE throughout the community. Hatzalah even shared N95 masks and viral filters with Skokie Police and Fire, Lincolnwood Police and Fire and the Chicago Fire Department. We even had a joint relationship established with Lincolnwood Fire Department to provide resources, such as ambulances and responders, in the event they became overwhelmed with Covid patients.
My family expressed concern for my safety but when I explained to them the lengths to which Hatzalah went to formulate new safety guidelines, policies and procedures for our members, as well as providing all the necessary PPE to keep us safe, they became satisfied that the organization would help keep me safe. My family conveyed their support to me and to other Hatzalah members as well as showed their pride in my involvement. I was very nervous the first time I responded to a Covid positive patient, the first Hatzalah Covid patient. But I remembered all the research and time that Hatzalah did to ensure my safety and I was able to refocus on providing the best care for my patient. My confidence in our safety policies continued to grow with every Covid patient encounter and that confidence has been confirmed by the fact that, while some members have contracted Covid, not one was traced back to a patient. Meaning, Hatzalah’s efforts to protect all of our members have been proven extremely successful. For this, and many other reasons, I am extremely proud to be a member of Hatzalah Chicago.
I am a proud member of the ICJA Class of 1993 and now a parent of a freshman. During my years I learned many valuable lessons at ICJA that I have incorporated into my daily life. I am sure the values that I learned guided me in my decision to volunteer my time to Hatzalah. I am thrilled that ICJA offers Hugo’s Heroes as well as the EMT course for seniors. I hope that current ICJA students will take advantage of these opportunities to be inspired by Hatzalah and the magnificent chesed that we do, and take these lessons with them when they graduate.
I want to wish everyone a happy and healthy Chanukah. May this Chanukah represent the light at the end of the tunnel and salvation from this pandemic.