Jewish Journal

First Aide for Israel

by Mark Paredes

August 20, 2010 | 12:18 pm

If I needed a blood transfusion in Israel, I would ask to receive Valeria Gannon’s. For years this outgoing, dedicated employee of ARMDI (www.afmda.org), the American fundraising arm of Magen David Adom (Israel’s Red Cross), has helped to raise money to provide Israel’s entire pre-hospital emergency needs, including 100% of the blood requirements of the IDF (Israeli Army) and 95% of the blood needs for Israeli hospitals and the general population. She told me that she wanted to dedicate her professional life to a cause, and couldn’t think of a better one than humanitarian aid for Israel. As you will see in her essay, she is not the first person in her family to work for the benefit of the Jewish people. ARMDI’s western regional office is lucky to have her.

I cannot hope to improve upon Valeria’s own words, so I will gladly grant her guest blogger privileges. Shabbat shalom.


My name is Valeria Gannon and for the past 8 years, I have been working for ARMDI (American Friends of Magen David Adom), a non-profit, fundraising organization for Israel’s 911 Disaster and Blood Service Provider.  Being raised as a Mormon in Los Angeles, I have always had a great love of the Jewish people and have had many cherished associates, neighbors and close friends who were Jewish or of Jewish descent.  I come by this love naturally, as my grandfather, Thomas Gannon, Sr. was a strong advocate for Jews, writing several articles in Chicago, IL for an Anti-Nazi movement propaganda magazine entitled “The Resolute” circa 1935-1936.  This magazine was used to start Anti-Nazi movements in Germany before Hitler came into power and was in direct response to his book “Mein Kampf.”  My grandfather’s closest friends were Jewish and because of his support and work on their behalf he later received an honorary membership from B’nai B’rith.

Being LDS I am proud that the Mormon Church is well known for its generous humanitarian and financial support for emergency relief efforts across the globe.  In August of 2006 during the Israel-Lebanon War, the Church gave $50,000 for emergency medical supplies to American Friends of Magen David Adom. An additional $30,000 was sent directly to Magen David Adom in Israel in 2007.

David Ben-Gurion said when speaking to Elder Ezra Taft Benson, LDS Leader and former U.S. Secretary, “There are no people in the world who understand the Jews like the Mormons.”  There are many similarities between Mormons and Jews:  Tradition, Family, Patriarchal Order, Prophets, Temples, Covenants and other choice teachings.  This is why we share a love and understanding of the Jews.

I believe in and support the future of Israel. I love working with the Jews because I have come to realize that I am one myself in spirit and relate to them on many levels.  They are truly my brothers and sisters and I know that I was meant to work with them so that I could know G-d’s people.  I am most grateful for their love and acceptance towards me and for the opportunity of working on the staff of AFMDA, but most particularly, for the privilege to work with Ellen Rofman and Lisabeth Lobenthal, which has been a joy and pleasure.  I consider them my friends.

In closing, I would like to quote the following scriptures that state the love G-d has and the promised blessings He has made to Israel:

Isaiah 41:10-13(KJV):  “Fear thou not; for I am with thee; be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.”
“Behold, all they that were incensed against thee shall be ashamed and confounded: they shall be as nothing; and they that strive with thee shall perish.”
“Thou shalt seek them, and shalt not find them, even them that contended with thee: they that war against thee shall be as nothing, and as a thing of nought.”
“For I the Lord thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not: I will help thee.”

Zephaniah 3:17-20(KJV), referring to Israel: “The Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing.”
“I will gather them that are sorrowful for the solemn assembly, who are of thee, to whom the reproach of it was a burden.”
“Behold, at that time I will undo all that afflict thee: and I will save her that halteth, and gather her that was driven out; and I will get them praise and fame in every land where they have been put to shame.”
“At that time will I bring you again, even in the time that I gather you: for I will make you a name and a praise among all people of the earth, when I turn back your captivity before your eyes, saith the Lord.”

B’ Shalom


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Mark Paredes is a former Mormon bishop currently living in Los Angeles. He has worked for the ZOA, the American Jewish Congress, and the Consulate General of Israel in Los...

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