A United Hatzalah volunteer medic was speaking to the congregation at Jerusalem’s Great Synagogue on Shabbat in honor of his upcoming wedding when his Mirs communications device received an emergency message: “A serious car accident has occurred on King George Street.”
A 97-year-old congregant of the synagogue was run over while crossing the road to walk home. His caregiver escaped without injury.
The bridegroom paramedic, Arye Jaffe – grandson of the synagogue’s late founder Dr. Maurice Jaffe – stopped his talk and raced out to resuscitate the injured man before he was rushed by ambulance to the hospital.
“I had just had an aliya for the Torah reading when my Mirs vibrated to alert me. While hearing the emergency message, we heard screams from the street,” Jaffe recalled.
“I ran out and saw his foreign caregiver standing and shouting hysterically next to the old man. I started resuscitating him and called my brothers and cousins, who are also medics, to come and help. They brought lifesaving equipment from the synagogue.”
A Magen David Adom mobile intensive care unit arrived, and the victim was evacuated to Hadassah University Medical Center in Ein Kerem in very serious condition.
In the meantime, the congregants found it difficult to continue in light of the dramatic event. The synagogue tradition is for the gabbai, who is Arye Jaffe’s uncle, to wish “mazal tov” to a bridegroom and say a few words about him and his family before he has an aliya to the Torah. Then, the women throw candies at him. This time, the gabbai said: “The bridegroom is not here, and whoever knows him knows exactly why.”
After the ambulance rushed off, Arye Jaffe said: “The moment of transition between the joy of Shabbat Hatan [the “groom’s Shabbat” held in the Ashkenazi tradition on the Shabbat before the wedding] and resuscitating the accident victim in the street was indescribable.
But that is exactly why I am dedicated to saving lives. This is my mission, and if I can, I do it. My bride and I reached an agreement that until 3 p.m. on the day we get married, I am with my Mirs and ready to save lives in any situation.”