‘We treat everyone the same way’

When Israel deployed more than 250 physicians and search-and-rescue experts to Nepal after the earthquake in 2016, Dr. Ofer Merin was the man behind the mission. As commander of the IDF Field Hospital Unit, Merin leads Israel's humanitarian missions around the world. Merin is also head of the trauma unit and emergency preparedness for mass casualties program at Jerusalem's Shaare Zedek Medical Center.

JUF News interviewed Merin by phone in advance of his visit to Chicago.

JUF NEWS: How is Israel's humanitarian assistance unique?

Dr. Ofer Merin: What makes Israel unique is a few things: First, our ability to deploy quickly. We are usually one of the first countries to arrive. We adapt to the conditions. The medical care you are giving in a disaster area is not the same you're giving in Chicago or Jerusalem. You have to adapt to different challenges. You have to adapt to the culture of the place.

You wear a lot of hats -- what does a typical day look like for you?

I respond to any major trauma incidents, whether that's terror or urban incidents like car accidents. I'm also a cardiac surgeon and operating twice a week. There's no typical day for me. Every day is different, which is what's nice about my work.

How do Jewish values inspire your work?

We treat everyone the same way. We are in Jerusalem, so we are treating Jews, Arabs, Muslims, Christians. We're treating terror victims as well as the perpetrators. There are a lot of values we keep. The work we do abroad is unique because we are coming and giving a helping hand to total strangers. There's a lot of Jewish values in the work we are doing both in Israel and abroad.


The Jewish United Fund's Trades, Industries, and Professions Annual Dinners run Thursday, May 10, to Tuesday, June 5, all held at the Hyatt Regency Chicago. Here are the sequence of speakers and dinners:

Thursday, May 10

Medical Professionals and Educators Dinner

Featuring: Col. (Res.) Dr. Ofer Merin, commander of Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Mobile Field Hospital and director of the Trauma Unit at Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem.

Thursday, May 31

Financial Services, Real Estate, High Tech, Marketing, and Media Dinner

Featuring: Magic Johnson, basketball legend, entrepreneur, and philanthropist.

Tuesday, June 5

Lawyers, Government Officials, Foods, Hospitality, Wholesalers, Retailers, and Manufacturers

Featuring: Dan Abrams & Nancy Grace. The new A&E show Grace vs. Abrams features Abrams, legal analyst, attorney, and author; and Grace, legal analyst, former prosecutor, and victims' advocate.

There is no charge to attend these events. Thanks to the generous support of our Corporate Partners, every dollar raised will go directly to JUF programs and services. All guests are encouraged to make a gift to the 2018 JUF Annual Campaign. For more information, contact JUFTIP@juf.org. To register, visit juf.org/TipDinners.

Connect with us

Sign up for our weekly newsletter featuring issues and events in the Jewish world.