A security camera at the Jerusalem headquarters of United Hatzalah, the voluntary, nationwide, rapid first-aid organization, picked up on Thursday night an incident that was heartwarming rather than negative. Two command center volunteers, Eliyahu Cholak and Muhammad Salach – side by side, each of them in black trousers and white shirts and one a Jew and the other a Muslim – were seen praying. Salach had laid out a small carpet and was kneeling on it to recite his prayers (verses from the Koran) while Cholak stood up and recited the arvit evening prayers.
“Here, cooperation and friendships are formed by people of different faiths working together to achieve a common goal,” said UH president and founder Eli Beer. “The friendship goes beyond simply working together. Our volunteers and staff learn about one another, help one another, support each other and work as a team in some of the most trying circumstances that exist. They’ve learned how to put their differences aside and work together,” said Beer, whose organization provides all its services free and includes 4,000 volunteers of all faiths and both genders.
“They are so comfortable together, that on their break, they even pray with one another. It doesn’t mean we each give up our own identity; it means that we respect others’ identities. They have even been known to invite members of other faiths to their weddings. I myself had numerous Arabs, Christians, Druse and even a few Beduin United Hatzalah volunteers at my daughter’s wedding this past summer, and I would call them all close friends.”