Haredi paramedic group splits after rift [p. 6]

Hatzolah Israel, a group of haredi paramedics on motorcycles, recently split following managerial, leadership and financial disputes. Two separate organizations are now providing the same services, and are recruiting aggressively in an attempt to build up their ranks. Hatzolah Israel, which is considered to be more haredi, continues to be headed by Duki Greenwald. Eliyahu Hendler, head of marketing for Hamodia; Ya'acov Berger, director of Lelov Hassidim institutions; and Ya'acov Grossman of Migdal Or Institutions are also part of management. Ichud Hatzolah, which has more modern Orthodox members, formed its own organization. "It's a shame that haredim who are volunteering to help the Jewish people could not avoid petty disputes," said Yehuda Meshi-Zahav, chairman of ZAKA (Disaster Victims Identification), another haredi emergency response organization that also provides first aid. Meshi-Zahav said Hatzolah's ability to organize on a national level would be impaired. "The split happened just two years after Hatzolah managed to create a nationwide network," he said. "Now the branches are splintered again." Meshi-Zahav said Hatzolah Israel enjoyed the support of the rabbinic establishment, but it was difficult to determine which of the two organizations was larger. Ichud Hatzolah spokesman Yerahmiel Toker said his organization had approximately 120 volunteers, compared to 80 for Hatzolah Israel. He said Ichud Hatzolah had raised tens of thousands of dollars that were used to buy a new fleet of 48 motorcycles and first aid kits. Greenwald said Hatzolah Israel was larger than Ichud Hatzolah. Toker said Ichud Hatzolah broke from Hatzolah due to "a feeling of alienation between the management and the volunteers on the streets." "We felt that the money being raised was not used properly," he said. "Rather, it was wasted on advertising and expanding administration." Greenwald said Hatzolah Israel was always run with complete transparency and there was no reason for the split. Meshi-Zahav and Greenwald both attributed the split to the death of Rabbi Moshe Halberstam, a senior rabbi of the Eda Haredit Rabbinic Court who served as a unifying force within Hatzolah.