Chief rabbis team up for child safety

A large percentage of home accidents occur among children in haredi and religious families.

Aware of the fact that a large percentage of home accidents occur among children in haredi and religious families, Chief Rabbis Shlomo Amar and Yona Metzger have agreed that advisories on child safety be distributed throughout the year to municipal and neighborhood rabbis around the country. The aim is to boost awareness among observant parents and teachers of thinking in advance to prevent casualties. Many of the holidays, such as Hanukka, Purim, Pessah, Lag Baomer and Succot, involve rituals and customs that can lead to injury if care is not taken. This was agreed upon Monday in a meeting at the Chief Rabbinate between heads of Beterem, the National Institute for Child Safety and Health, and the chief rabbis. Dr. Michal Hemmo-Lotem, a pediatrician and director-general of the organization (based at the Rabin Medical Center in Petah Tikva), discussed child safety at the meeting, which was also attended by Rabbi Hananya Cholak (a Beterem board member) and Chief Rabbinate director-general Oded Weiner. The chief rabbis expressed their appreciation for the non-profit organization, which works day and night to minimize the large number of preventible accidents in and around the home that kill and disable children of all ages. They promised to help distribute the safety messages via the national state rabbinate and called on parents and teachers to take the utmost care to protect children. "Our holy Torah commanded us to 'greatly preserve your souls,'" said the rabbis. "Our hearts are torn when we see children and young people who flowered a moment ago and all their future was ahead of them, and in a terrible second of lack of alertness and care, their lives were ended or were destroyed forever. And these tragedies affect their families as well, for their worlds have collapsed, and their pain remains forever." During the past year, 187,000 children were brought to hospital emergency rooms as a result of injuries, physical trauma and other accidents. Hemmo-Lotem said that of these, 200 died, and many others suffered permanent injury.