When Eli Beer set out to establish United Hatzalah of Israel in 2006, his goal was getting to every medical emergency within 90 seconds.
“If we had remained within our communities, we would have never been able to get everywhere in 90 seconds,” Beer, who today serves as the founder and president of the organization recalled, speaking at The Jerusalem Post Annual Conference, which took place in New York on Monday. “In order to achieve our goal, we needed to reached out to our neighbors and to people we didn't have a relationship with, starting with the Arab community”
Some 17 years later, United Hatzalah responds to almost 2,000 emergency calls every day, with hundreds of volunteers from every sector of Israeli society, Jews, Muslims and Christians, secular, religious and ultra-Orthodox, men and women.
United Hatzalah: Saving lives with limited resources
“For me and my family, it has been important to support Hatzalah because it saves lives with very limited resources,” said Erica Gerson, a Board Member of the EMS organization and a reform rabbi.
“In addition, it means so much to see the humanity of Israel at its best within our organization,” she added. “It is more than pluralism, it is really about humanity.”
Echoing the same sentiments were also two Hatzalah volunteers, Batya Widawsky, a religious Jewish woman and a resident of the West Bank, and Nazir Aweida, a Muslim man and a resident of East Jerusalem.
“When we are at an emergency scene, religion doesn’t matter, we work all together, people of all faiths, to save people of all faiths,” said Widawsky.
“My family is very proud of what I’m doing and people in my neighborhood are happy to have an EMS first respondent,” Aweida highlighted. “As a Muslim, the Koran teaches me to help everyone in need because saving a live is the highest value.”
“This is a message that I also want to teach my children, to volunteer and to give more and more under the umbrella of Hatzalah for the people of our country,” he concluded.